Pemmican was invented and used by the natives of North America. It was used by Indian scouts and western explorers, people that were used to spend a great deal of time on the go and were depending on having a portable, highly nutritious, high in energy and filling foods that would last for long periods of time. Pemmican was compact, light, high in vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and if made properly can last anywhere from a few years (decades) up to a lifetime without refrigeration, which makes it the ultimate survival food!
Pemmican is made of lean, dried meat which is then crushed to a powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. Originally it was made from bison, elk or deer, but nowadays it is usually made with beef. You can add some crushed, dried berries to alter the taste.
A man could survive entirely on pemmican, drawing on the vitamins for health, the protein for strength and fat for energy. There are a few cases in history, of people living healthy for months out of pemmican.
We all can learn about survival from the older generations. They managed to survive in harsh environments for a long period of time solely on foods like pemmican.
- 4 cups lean meat or a pound (deer, beef, caribou or moose)
- 3 cups blueberries (or other dried fruits)
- 2 cups rendered fat (or 1/2 pounds)
- Unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey (Optional)
- Get about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast and let it firm up in the freezer so you can slice it thin.
- Add salt and pepper. Set the oven to the lowest possible temperature and put the strips of meat directly onto the rack. Crack the oven door to prevent moisture buildup. You can also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.
- Dry out the meat for fifteen hours, or until it is crispy. Toss it in the food processor until it becomes a powder. Do the same with the blueberries.
- For the fat portion of pemmican, you can use lard or tallow. Cut it into small pieces and place it into the crockpot. Set the crock pot on low heat and remove it only after it becomes completely liquid. Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.
- Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder – slowly.
- Let it firm up and then cut it into squares.
Wrap the pemmican in wax paper, store them in a ziplock bag and keep them in a cool and dark place.
Back in the 1800s, the native North Americans from Canada (Metis) would go southwest onto the prairie, slaughter buffalo, convert it into pemmican and carry it north to trade at the North West Company posts. For these people on the edge of the prairie, the pemmican trade was as important a source of trade goods as was the fur trade for the Indians further north. And if you were planning a serious journey, almost all foods would have been too heavy to carry.