(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.
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
- 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 or and 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.
Step-by-step Instructions for Making Pemmican:
- 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.
- 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.
- Crush the dried berries down to a powder of similar size.
- 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.
- 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.
- Knead the mixture until it is thoroughly and completely combined.
- If you can see any white "spots" or clumps of fat, continue kneading
until these have all been eliminated.
- 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.
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!