Making Pemmican

Making Pemmican

(As featured in the December 2008 issue of Practically Seeking)

During "Using the Whole Animal" last month we did all sorts of stuff with all kinds of animal parts.

But one of the things the folks in the workshop found most surprising happened near the end of the last day:
"Hey, this tastes pretty good!"

Believe it or not, when made properly Pemmican does not taste too bad. Okay, you probably wouldn't want to serve it for Sunday dinner, but I bet you'd be surprised at how "not bad!" it actually tastes.

Packed with calories, which is what you need in a survival situation, pemmican is way up there on the "bang for your buck" food scale. It also travels well, can be stored for a LONG time, and can be made with many different variations so feel free to experiment with the extras that you add.

And next time you cook a pot roast or make some stew, save that stuff that hardens over on the top (the rendered fat) and try your hand at a batch of pemmican.

Tips & Tricks for Making Pemmican

Step-by-step Instructions for Making Pemmican:

  1. Take equal parts of rendered fat, dried meat (jerky) and dried berries. If you don't add berries the amount of meat can be as much as doubled, to taste.
  2. Jerky

  3. Chop up the meat into small bits and crush it into a powder. If you are not in a primitive situation, a blender works well.
  4. Powdered jerky

  5. Crush the dried berries down to a powder of similar size.
  6. Powdered berries

  7. Take about a third of the fat and mush it in your hands so it is pliable. Place the fat on the pile of meat powder, turn it over and place it on the pile of berry powder, then begin working the meat and berries into the fat, disbursing them as evenly as possible.
  8. Mush a third of the fat Begin mixing fat meat and berries Crush them all together

  9. Add some more fat to the ball and place it again onto the meat and berries and work it all together. Continue this process until all the fat, meat and berries are worked in.
  10. Continue Mixing Combine thoroughly

  11. Knead the mixture until it is thoroughly and completely combined.
  12. Combine completely Distribute fat, meat and berries evenly

  13. If you can see any white "spots" or clumps of fat, continue kneading until these have all been eliminated.
  14. Clumps of fat Finished kneading

  15. Pemmican does not require refrigeration. Simply store it in a cool place in an air tight container when possible. Traditionally the intestine was used to form sausage-like links, each one being a complete portion. 
  16. Sausage-like links Smaller taste-size portions

    Pemmican is energy dense, slow to digest and should be consumed slowly in small portions.
    So long as the fat has been properly rendered there should be no problem with it going rancid.

    So Have Fun, Be Brave, and give Pemmican a Try!