Pemmican is basically a mix of dried meat (traditionally bison), berries, and animal fat. It is a high-protein and high-energy food that was originally prepared by the North American Indians but still makes for a useful survival snack today. Not only this, but it also lasts for decades if properly packaged and prepared.
Due to its benefits, it became an excellent food choice for both explorers and traders alike. It became such an important resource that a war was even started over it.
The meat would be dried so much that it could be crushed into a powder which was then blended 50/50 with animal fat and dried berries. It would then be placed into a sack that would then be sealed with more animal fat to help it last longer.
- When preparing your fat, meat and berry ratios it is best to make them equal by weight, not volume. You will get much better tasting results!
- So long as the fat has been properly rendered pemmican does not require any refrigeration, but be sure that you use air-tight containers for storage. Sausage-type links in a tight plastic wrap or vacuum packed can last a very long time.
- Glass jars and/or pottery containers are also good, and better for rodent-proofing your stash!
- While not as high in fat and calories as the meat-fat version, vegetarians can make a similar product using peanut butter (the commercially made non-separating kind) in place of rendered fat and fruit or vegetable leather instead of meat jerky.
How to Make Your own Pemmican
You will need the following for our recipe:
- 4 cups lean meat
- 3 cups dried fruit
- 2 cups rendered fat
- Unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey
Your meat should be as lean as possible and double ground from your butcher if you do not have you own meat grinder at home.
Spread it out very thin on a cookie sheet and dry at 180 degrees F for at least 8 hours or until sinewy and crispy.
Pound the meat into a nearly powder consistency using a blender or other tool.
Grind the dried fruit, but leave a little bit lumpy for fun texture.
Heat rendered fat on stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruit, and mix in nuts and honey.
Mix everything by hand. Let cool and store.
The above is only one recipe but there are many out there so if you try one that you do not like, don’t give up, try another.
Next up, learn how to make hardtack