I grew on a state park as a son of a park ranger and was encouraged (maybe that’s too strong a word –tolerated) to explore Native American crafts and wilderness survival skills. I had always wanted to make pemmican, but since I lived on a state park, I could not hunt so I never had access to enough meat and fats to make it. (Mom wouldn’t let me experiment with the family’s groceries unless I was cooking supper…. LOL)
The urge to make pemmican lay dormant for several decades as I went in the service, and later spent all my energy learning about ex-wives and the legal process. Now that I am settled and have a wife that understands me enough to let my creative juices float me in strange directions I decided to finally make some pemmican.
Basically pemmican is mixture of dried and pounded meat and rendered fat. Since meat spoils rapidly needs to be preserved, but because of the differences in makeup meat and fats have to be preserved using different methods.
In pemmican, dried meat and rendered fat is preserved separately. It is then mixed back together to make a calorie dense food that has a long shelf life. Traditionally we hear about pemmican being made with dried berries also, but that did not make up the bulk of pemmican creation until the Europeans began buying it that way.
Here’s how to make traditional pemmican
- Separate the meat from the fat
- Dry the meat into jerky
- Grind the meat. Use a commercial grinder, or pulverize, I threw mine into a blender.
- Render the fat.
- Combine meat and fat, in a ratio of 2 parts meat to 1 part fat.
- Pack in airtight containers
If you want to add dried fruit you can do that also.
Modern Pemmican is more palatable
For a more modern (and easier to convince your wife to try) you can substitute peanut butter for the fat.
I dried a bag of freeze dried assorted fruits and added it with the peanut butter and meat. My wife ate some and would do so again. I doubt she would if she saw me dumping in a jar of rendered fat though….
Just one caveat, this stores well, and tastes pretty good, but modern pemmican is very calorie dense so its probably best suited as a meal replacement and not a neat snack.