Invented by the natives of North America, pemmican was used by Indian scouts as well as early western explorers. These people spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time.
Pemmican was light, compact, high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and if done properly can last anywhere from a few years (decades) up to a lifetime without refrigeration!
Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat which is crushed to a powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. Back in those days the natives made it with bison, deer, or elk but nowadays it is usually made with beef. Crushed, dried berries can be added as well.
A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy, the protein for strength and vitamins for health. There are a few cases in history of people living for months (in good health) only out of pemmican.
So, it’s easy to understand why I choose pemmican as the ultimate survival-superfood.
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how the guys who wandered the west 130 or so years ago did it. As I’ve said it in a recent article (30 Lost Ways of Survival from 1880) the “SHTF” we all prep for is what folks 150 years ago called “daily life:” No electrical power, no refrigerators, no Internet, no computers, no TV, no hyper-active law enforcement, no Safeway or Walmart.
How to Make 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)
- Optional – about 1 shot of honey (you can add nuts but they will lower the self life)
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 (around 150 degrees) and put the strips of meat directly onto the rack. Crack the oven door to prevent moisture buildup.
At this point, you can also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.
Let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it is crispy. Toss it in the food processor until it becomes a powder. Do the same with the blueberries. In the old days they’d pound it with a rock to turn it into a “powder”.
For the fat portion of pemmican, you can use tallow (rendered beef or mutton fat) or lard (rendered pork fat). Cut up your fat in small pieces and place the fat 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, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball.
If done and stored correctly it can last for decades.
Wrap these “pemmican balls” in wax paper and store them in a ziplock bag in a cool, dark place.
Back in the 1800, the Metis (one of the recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada) 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 this is because for a serious journey, almost all foods would have been too heavy to carry.
If you’ll ever have to bug out – especially without a car – keep this in mind: Pemmican is the most compact, light, natural and nutritious supply you can take with you.
You may also like:
What’s the #1 Killer In Any Crisis?
Ingenious Foods People Made During Crisis
Do You Make These Fatal Mistakes In A Crisis?
How to Prepare for the Coming Food Crisis
30 Lost Ways of Survival from 1880 We Should all Learn
Never seen this. I will be giving it a try soon. Thanks
The portion sizes are way off… A pound and a half of thinly sliced meat dehydrated only yielded about 1 1/2 cups. So to get 4 cups, you’re going to need at least 4 pounds of meat
I personally made it last year and a couple of times with my dad when I was a child.
If you put too much fat it will go rancid after a few months. The secret is to pour just enough liquid fat to soak into the (meet) powder.
The taste is not bad but not very good either. In fact, with time, it will grow on you but remember that this is a survival food.
Hello I was curious if you have added spices to it for flavor and if so, did it shorten the shelf life dramatically?
What about adding honey for taste and keeping it from spoiling?
Of course. It’s in the article listed as “Optional – unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey”. Some people add a little more honey, especially for the vegan Pemmican (because there is also a vegan recipe, but not that nutritious)
C.Davis, could you provide a link to a vegan or vegetarian recipe? As a vegetarian, I’m not averse to using dairy products or honey.
Haha yeah, because veganism is more important than survival. I fucking hate fish, but damn me if i wouldnt eat fish just because i dont like the taste if its a matter of life or death.
You can use powdered tofu-jerky instead of beef.
I found this, but really I don’t know if it will last:
2 cups dates (lower the shelf life)
3 cups powdered tofu-jerky
2 cups raisins (lower the shelf life)
Honey (as a binding agent, add as much as needed)
2 cups nuts (lower the shelf life)
Grind all this material together, except for the honey. Add in the honey a little bit at a time, and mix well each time. Pour into pan until about three quarters of an inch thick or make them directly into bars. Refrigerate and cut bars out of pan. This is a sweet concoction and in cold climates, honey can be replaced with suet and processed just as in pemmican recipe in the article.
Thank you C. Davis. So the dates, raisins, and nuts will lower the shelf-life? How is that? Shouldn’t dried fruits keep for longer?
not once they are “wet” or fried in fat.
C. Davis, thanks for that. I may try experimenting with just subbing tofu (maybe some smoke flavoring for fun) and minimal olive oil and agave syrup.
Ragar, I’m proud vegan – and also prepper and NRA. Any SHTF scenario shifts or tests parameters for everyone. I assume I would ultimately choose meat over starvation if my prepping failed, but I don’t know. But instead of making not-as-clever-as-you-think digs at people with higher ethical standards than you, maybe you should ask yourself questions like whether morality (theft) is more important to you than survival, or Christianity, or family, etc. Because all those put people to the test, and sometimes with different results – but in either case, it still wouldn’t mean veganism or ethics or anything else were therefore not good things.
wow. could you be more of an offensive, arrogant, jerk? vegetatians have “higher ethical standards”? i guess we should just all be impressed by your superior virtue. i think the point he was making is: seriously planning to survive emergency situations and planning to live “virtuously” are rarely compatible pursuits.
Idiots like PQ think they are saving animals, but they are not, at least if they are relying on factory farming. They are a shitload of hypocrites, because they aren’t doing all they can to save animals, they are just pretending to save cute cuddly ones that all go to slaughter anyway. That’s the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian, who have the exact same diet–the vegan is an SJW with superior morals than everyone else and thus quite annoying.
Vegans will never survive a SHTF event. There is no such thing as ‘wild’ tofu. Eat the wild beast, don’t graze like one!!
“Higher ethical standards “??? Uncalled for, rude and judgmental. While I didn’t like the other comment, yours was just as bad. We are here to learn not be insulted.
Please try to not get emotional about your values. We all do what we do, and we’re all doing our best. If you choose veganism as a moral choice, fine. But this doesn’t make you more moral than the next guy (or you a cleverer person for NOT espousing to veganism) just because the other guy doesn’t share your values. This digging at people because we don’t share their beliefs (both sides) is unpleasant and does nothing to build community. This is not what we need right now. The tendency to divisiveness has become ubiquitous in the U.S., and this will destroy us far sooner than any virus, pandemic or natural crisis will. You may attack me. I respect your choice to do so. But I will not join in the unpleasantness further than to call it out. Sure, call me a coward. Whatever it takes.
Why do you assume that people who are vegetarians by choice would not eat meat in a survival situation, and rather starve to death? I do not eat my cat, but if it really stood between him and me to not die, then I’d eat him (sorry, cat, love you) Being vegetarian in our society is a moral, sometimes healthbased, choice. The meat industry is afterall organized cruelty.
Anyone know if the vegetarian option would have longer shelflife? If so, making both versions would be a good tip!
Well said! Thank you. I made the choice to go vegan 2 months ago based on health reasons, and havent looked back.
friends dont get it.
Why do you assume that people who are vegetarians by choice would not eat meat in a survival situation, and rather starve to death? I do not eat my cat, but if it really stood between him and me to not die, then I’d eat him (sorry, cat, love you) Being vegetarian in our society is a moral, sometimes healthbased, choice. The meat industry is afterall organized cruelty.
Anyone know if the vegetarian option would have longer shelflife? If so, making both versions would be a good tip!
“Organized cruelty”? Don’t be such a hopeless ingenue — the industry feeds MILLIONS of your fellow humans, so it’s actually organized kindness.
Actually we harvest animals that we steward. While we did not do well with the buffalo, we now protect and harvest them with the view to keeping them an everlasting supply. Animals are there to harvest and we MUST keep them abundant enough to continue to feed our ever growing population. I think that pemmican optimizes the utility of all the nutrition in meat. If you want to go vegan because you love animals go ahead, but don’t blame those who continue to eat meat. It is not cruel to live according to your conviction, meat or not.
Ragnar, you know neither me nor my life. I am not some pussyfooted hippie who chose this because of some fad. This is my Dharma and my Duty. I would like to avoid eating the flesh of another living being if I could avoid it.
I’m with you on this one guys. I kept away from meat for almost a year. I ate eggs, milk, cheese because for me it’s not a moral issue to eat these. I switched back to meat when I started training. I know it is possible, but it is hard to get all the proteins and nutrients when you do a huge amount of physical activity. Anyway, I’m thinking I’ll go back to not eating meat again in few years.
I have horses,they are pets now, but believe you me, push come to shove, a Tennessee walker pacs a lot of protein
Well, a lot of people are religiously or mostly opposed to eating meat or animal products. If there is an animal free version, why does it matter to you? I personally eat animal products but can see why one would want to avoid them. If we could all just get past our petty differences and see the real enemy, the state, we’d be a lot better off
Honey preserves due to it’s high sugar content, and even then it can contain botulism spores. That’s why bottles of raw honey all say not to feed it to infants.
Putting food into honey should preserve it, but putting honey into a food will only sweeten it. In the case of pemmican, probably reduce shelf life a lot.
Pretty much anything you put into pemmican besides meat and tallow reduces it’s shelf life, and that includes dried berries.
Indians didn’t use berries, though they traded pemmican to traders, and THAT pemmican included blueberries.
The berries made their pemmican more popular with the White traders, and so far as shelf life, the Indians didn’t care.
The traders didn’t care much either, because their pemmican didn’t have to be stored for years, only months. They ate it, and they traded it to other people who ate it, so most of it wouldn’t have had to last much more than a year.
Yes, the native Americans did use berries, seeds and some roots in their pemmican. I am tribal. My family has always been tribal. We don’t write down recipes nor share much of our culture with outsiders because everything is spiritual and sacred to us. But on the note of what we used for this is not for you to assume. Maybe check your sources. Cranberry and lingonberry are extremely common ingredients.
Lakota Sioux used choke cherries or cranberries with powdered buffalo meat and buffalo fat in their wasna.
See recipes under wasna recipe on Google.
Honey won’t keep it from spoiling, in fact, it will make spoilage more likely.
The extreme sugar content of Honey is why it doesn’t spoil.
Pure Cane Sugar will last forever too, for the same reason.
Most microbes can’t live in the high-sugar environment.
When you dilute honey, by adding it to something, you lose that sugar concentration.
If you’re making pemmican for long-term storage, then just about ANYTHING you add to it will reduce it’s shelf-life.
Indians made two different kinds of pemmican. One was simply meat and melted tallow, which they kept for themselves.
The other variety contained various berries, to improve flavor.
This was traded to white men in exchange for steel knives and arrowheads, iron pots, etc.
It didn’t have the shelf life of plain old pemmican but had a taste that Europeans could enjoy more, and it’s shortened shelf live was still considerable enough to let it be re-sold to trappers who would be eating it within a year or so anyway.
How about substituting a meat you can buy like rabbit or buffalo ?
You can use almost any type of meet. Natives used whatever was available at that time for them (bison, moose, elk, or deer). Nowadays people use what they can buy. The only thing you should have in mind is to select a low-fat (almost no fat at all) meat (like beef for example).
You need to use a red meat, which rabbit is not.
Why do you need to use only red meat? Rabbit is low fat.
Can you use store bought Lard I assume?
Also Venison is exceptionally lean!
Venison would be PERFECT for this. And, generally, any “wild meat” is perfect, because it is low-fat or doesn’t have fat at all.
I think you can use Lard. Basically is the same thing… so I don’t see why not.
The problem I see with store bought lard is that it’s hydrogenated. That’s the part that makes it clog up your arteries and kill you. Just pain rendered lard didn’t have the same issues. Butchers will sell you pig fat. I’ve found that it’s jacked full of salt though. Depends on how healthy you want to be. We’ve switched from table salt to pink sea salt, and from sugar to raw honey. With high blood pressure and. Diabetes, I found my.body tolerated these better and there are minerals in the pink sea salt that we need that aren’t there in the table salt. The table salt we have new is a by product of making battery acid. We buy the big pink blocks of unprocessed horse block at the farm store. Not the processed blocks, but it looks like a big pink rock, some times had a rope through it. All they do is break the rock it, ship it to the store, no processing. Comes from Utah, much cheaper. No chemicals.
“The table salt we have new is a by product of making battery acid.” Who told you that lie? I lived in SLC and salt, NaCl is harvested in Promontory Point, ie the north end of the great Salt Lake right from the ground.. There’s no batteries involved..
They call those Himalayan salts in the feed stores
I buy those salt rocks for all my livestock. Are you saying you buy them for yourselves to eat? If so, how do you get them into fine enough salt to use on food? Sounds interesting.
the lard you buy at the store is highly processed and comes from pigs that have been fed GMO feed and are full of antibiotics and hormones… I have used it in the past but no more… Find some local resource for locally raised and rendered lard.
No lard if you want to store it long term. Lard is rendered pork fat. It doesn’t have the same nutritional value as beef tallow, or rendered fat from some other red meat.
Lard will go rancid much faster, also.
It doesn’t matter that venison is extremely lean, because you won’t get enough fat even off of a beef steak, so you need to use an outside source.
You can buy beef tallow online, in fact I think WalMart may carry it in jars. Check their website.
Or if you can find a local butcher shop, you may be able to get them to save beef fat and sell it to you cheaply. You can render it down to tallow yourself.
But stay away from anything having to do with meat that isn’t red.
No pig meat, no pig fat (Lard). Remember, they don’t market pork as “The other red meat”.
what is the life expectancy of making this product?
It all depends on how well you make it and how you store it. It may last for many decades! It’s hard to know a “shelf life” for this because we are talking about huge amounts of time.
For example, during the 19 century, British troops were given an iron ration made of four ounces of pemmican, chocolate and sugar. Some pemmican rations (from the British troops) were found intact (eatable) after 50 years or so.
Anyway, nobody will keep this for 50 years. And I don’t know if I would like to eat something which is 50 years old. I’m thinking for the next 10 years… and this will do, Jay!
What about using dates instead of blueberries? Will give that natural sweetness.
Excellent recipe I will be using and experimenting with… thank you 🙂
I’ve never tried dates and never heard about a recipe of pemmican with dates. I don’t know if you can dry them properly. You can give it a try, but if you don’t sufficiently dry them, the pemmican won’t last for years.
Thank for the reply… yeah dates do have moisture, but i will look into dehydrating them further…. maybe i will go with currants. Will try dates and tell you how it went.
There is a date known as the bread date. It is very dry so easy to carry and lasts a long time.
Date sugar is just dried date powder. You could try that, I suppose.
Could you use various spices to make it taste a little better?
Could you use bear meat?
No. Although it may work, I really don’t advise it. Bear meat = risk of parasites (including some serious ones). You don’t want that.
I don’t know about the parasites, have eaten bear any number of times and have never heard that before. Not saying there isn’t such a thing, just that this is the first I’ve heard of it. But as the recipie states you should use the leanest possible meat and from my experience bear is anything but lean.
Bear meat you have eaten was probably heated to more than 160 degrees during cooking, killing any parasites.
That’s the same reason you never see Hog Jerky… you can get trichinosis (parasites) from pork that isn’t cooked well.
Pemmican is made from dried meat, never heated enough to be sure parasites are killed.
In fact, in the USA, you are unable to buy REAL jerky or pemmican, because it’s illegal to sell meat that hasn’t been cooked.
Any jerky or other “dried meat” product you buy in the USA has been at least partially cooked, rather than simply smoked or dried.
Nowadays trichinosis (parasites) is basically a thing of the past unless you eat wild hogs. You can even eat pork that is cooked medium or at least it is according to what I say on “The Chew” the other day.
Preppers should be thinking in terms of surviving (personally, family, clan, group) a enduring crisis. That means that current factory-farming practices rapidly end. Forget pork (peccary etc.) and bear meat, except for roasts and barbecues.
In arid zones pork is particularly problematical, since swine need much more water than other animals. Aside from parasites, that is another reason why West Asians (Jews & Arabs) eschew swine for sheep and goats.
Pemmican as a compound *assumes* very lean meat. That means deer, elk, moose, rabbit, and like animals for principal protein inputs. But the human body needs fats too.
What puzzles me is any continuing neglect of leeched acorn meal, because it was another prime ingredient of pemmican East of the Mississippi.
Could you use dehydrated foods? I was thinking about adding vegetables as well. What would it be like added to boiling water?
It depends… what dehydrated foods? Basically you can everything, but it will no longer be Pemmican. Which can be good, because it might taste better. But will no longer last forever.
Can this be dehydrated further once it is made? Would that help any with the shelf life….and exactly what mode of storage is best? Sealed in something, or left to breath on a shelf, with a cloth to keep off dust?
Pemmican will slowly dehydrate over time (but very very slowly). The fat prevents humidity getting in or out of the Pemmican. If you try to further dehydrate it in an oven… you’ll melt the fat.
You can wrap the Pemmican in wax paper and store it in a ziplock bag in a cool, dark place (not in the sun were the fat can melt). Simple as that. If you don’t pack them somehow a little tiny insect (like ants) may find your pemmican very tasty.
Alternatively, you can dip it into black beeswax which will better protect it from moisture, light, mites, and other contaminants. peels right off like packageing. you can wrap it in cheesecloth beforehand to make the barrier stronger.
Like this idea. How do you make black beeswax?
Thank you both for your quick replies, will be trying this this weekend, with a few other added dehydrated veggies, peppers and the like……I wonder if I will eat this stuff as fast as the homemade Jerky, which seems to disapper in a matter of days.
Could coconut oil be used for the fat ?
You need pure fat that will solidify after mixing it with the meat powder.
If you use coconut oil you have to keep the Pemmican in the fridge in order to make sure the oil won’t liquify in the summer.
im not sure how true this is but I read a story about a bunch of this stuff that had been found that was over 100 years old and still good
How thin do you slice the beef?
Do you actually leave it in the oven at 150 degrees for 15 hours? That is a long time.
As thin as you can. This way it will dehydrate better. If you can’t cut it thin than keep it in the freezer and try to cut it while it’s semi-frozen with a sharp knife. (it will take a while this way)
can you use a food dehydrator to do this as well or only the oven?
This is a great idea!! Thanks for sharing!
a dehydrator would work just as fine!
You can use a dehydrator, you can even use the sun if you keep the meat covered with cheesecloth to keep flies away. That’s how jerky was made before there was electricity. The main thing is that it becomes what is essentially way over-dried jerky. It needs to be cut really thin for this and dried really thoroughly. Strips should break between your fingers when bent, rather than bending.
What about smoking to dehydrate it? It might add some flavor as well as remove moisture and render out any fat.
This is how it was done back then. It works!
Those wising to try veggies might consider using quality freeze-dried vegetables which retain much nutrition. One good source I know is http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com . They’ve given me great service. I’m going to try this source. they also have dried fruits, as well as some organic soy protein foods, all of which can be ground to powder.
Would skinless chicken breasts work? Much cheaper than beef.
And rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) ought to work, no?
You can use chicken breasts, but it won’t last that long. Chicken fat – no.
Why wouldn’t chicken fat work? (I should note that long-term preservation is not my concern. I would need it to last unrefrigerated for only a week or two.)
My guess is that it will last for two weeks maybe more. But, really, I can’t give advice on that, since I haven’t done it myself and I’ve never heard of someone doing this. Usually there is a reason for this. So when in doubt… don’t do it. This goes for all the foods (regarding food safety).
I would be very concerned about food poisoning as chicken and other poultry must be handled very quickly, carefully and even utensils must be thoroughly cleaned.
Having had food poisoning a few times from chicken, I would not use chicken without canning it after making.
Could you please tell me why chicken would not last long? I have been eating home made (so dry its brittle) chicken jerky a year after making it. No problem. (I would vacuum and mylar bag the pemmican)
You don’t have to look far to find warnings not to prepare other foods on a cutting board or with a knife that has been used for cutting up chicken without thorough washing in between.
Similarly, there are warnings against under-cooking it. Nobody serves Medium Rare Chicken.
This is due to a high risk of salmonella inherent with the chicken.
Would you want to simply dry something instead of cooking it when there are warnings like that around?
Most people recover from the vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps within a few days, but some have effects for the rest of their lives, and salmonella can get into the lymphatic system, causing typhoid fever.
You need to heat food to over 160 degrees if you hope to kill bacteria and parasites.
The drying process for the meat all happens at lower temps, otherwise the meat gets cooked instead getting dried.
You don’t cook pemmican. Given all the cooking sites that tell you to be SURE to thoroughly wash a knife or cutting board after cutting raw chicken, because of the salmonella hazard, I don’t think I’d have anything to do with dried chicken meat. Salmonella poisoning is no fun.
Folks…you’ll really need to use grass-fed tallow if you want this to be nutritious enough to live on…huge difference between that and regular stuff you get in your local market.
There is chemistry and biology at work here folks…the Grass fed beef is more than just nutrition – corn fed has a lot more sugars in it = quickly rancid. Anyone who compares corn fed or finished beef that has been in the fridge for a week…to wild grass fed the same length will know that sickly smell and discolored fat from store bought. Chicken BAD IDEA…too much bacteria…particularly the chicken fat. Vegetables REALLY BAD IDEA!!! Veggies are the fastest way to get botulism…MANY people get sick and even die from improperly preserved vegetables! The veg that would be in the center surrounded by fat are just what botulism likes….no oxygen…
True! For the best quality pemmican – use red meat. DO NOT include nuts, seeds, vegetables, grains…
Your recipe says unsalted nuts optional and then you say do not include nuts? Which one is it?
You are right. As you’ve seen, I didn’t use nuts, but I know some people do. Anyway, reading more about it, I found out that they lower the self life. I corrected the article. Thanks
Can a nutrition guru answer me a question?
Isn’t botulism a bacteria that develops in aneurobic –WET–environment? Such as canning? Is it also a problem with DIED environment?
“anaerobic” doesn’t mean “wet”, it means “Without Oxygen”.
Anaerobic bacteria can grow without any oxygen and in fact high oxygen levels kill most strains.
Anaerobic bacteria can live and multiply in a sealed Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers added.
You only get botulism when you do not do the anning properly. When you follow the proper procedures there is no worry. I have never gotten sick from canning!
You only get botulism when you do not do the canning properly.
Will Steiger used pemmican on at least his first expedition to the North Pole. He said it’s extremely high in calories, and it was the only food that would provide the energy necessary to cross the Arctic.
So, how do you know if it went bad? Does it smell and get furry? Also that ration with the chocolate that the English used, could we get a recipe on that?
If you do it and store it properly you have no need to worry:
First (and probably most common) if you put too much fat or if you don’t store it in a dark place (and I would add here to wrap the Pemmican in wax paper and store them in a ziplock bag) it may go rancid. Rancid is not a discreet phenomena – IT STINKS. Rancidity is very common. Most of us at some point ate a little bit of rancid oil. Rancidification can reduce the nutritional value of food but according to wiki it is unlikely to cause immediate illness. Although there are some things that can really go wrong (see link: https://nutritionnutsandbolts.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/rancid-fat/)
Botulism is much more severe (can cause death) – and it’s not that easy to identify because one type of this bacteria (C) has absolutely no smell and you can’t identify it (unless you have a laboratory). But, botulism (from food – especially canned) is really rare (aprox. 17 cases/year in US).
What constitutes a serving given a person’s size/weight and how many servings per day? Also, this doesn’t say how large each serving is to be cut, “Then cut it into pieces or roll it into a ball” is an extremely vague/incomplete instruction!
Can i use a dehydrator or electric smoker (i have a Big Chief) without the smoke to dry out the meat? My oven doesnt go down to 150 degrees. I also plan on using a elk roast, and fat rendered from bacon ends and pieces that is sold in grocery stores. Will that fat work?
yes, you can use the dehydrator or the electric smoker but it’s best to set the oven at 180 (does it goes down to 180?) let it there for 8 hours.
elk – yes. The fat it’s better to use it from the same (kind of ) animal. And it’s recommendable from a red meat one.
Fat from bacon ends will not solidify unless stored in frig. It gets runny as it gets warmer. So I doubt that would be a good choice. I believe the old timers would boil the fat and dip it off the top or strain the whole pot of liquid and then let it set or refrigerate. Should be easy to scrap the solid fat off the top of the water then. I can’t remember but they may have washed the rendered fat a second time. Should be an Amish recipe online somewhere.
Could you do the same thing by using a bag of fried pork rinds (chicharrones)? I was thinking you could eliminate the fat rendering step if you crush them, add them to the dried meat and berries, and use a small amount of honey as a binder. Can anyone tell me if or why this wouldn’t work?
The tallow isn’t only a binder, it’s part of the nutrition and preservation.
You can’t get tallow by crushing the solids that were created as a byproduct of getting the tallow.
You actually create a beef equivalent of chicharrones by rendering the beef fat.
They are a byproduct of the process. After filtering them out, you can throw them away or eat them like pork rinds.
Heating the fat separates it into liquids and solids. I have to think that fried pork rinds are the same way.
Also, you are supposed to use tallow rendered from red meat.
Pork is a white meat, and from what I’ve read, pork lard can be used instead of beef tallow, but will not give you the nutrition and shelf life of a red meat tallow.
is there a recipe for eating vegans? when shtf they will be the first to become weak and helpless, im planning on grabbing at least 20, should last about 5 years which will be enough time for normality of sorts to resume, thanks
I’ve mentioned a vegan recipe in the comment area (7th comment) but it is with honey (it’s the bidding agent) …i don’t know if you eat honey. Anyways, all the recipes that are derivations from the traditional Pemmican have different shelf-life’s. It will last a while, I’m sure, but I can’t possibly know or guarantee in a way or another a shelf-life for those.
You absolutely win the Internet. Best part is nobody caught the joke. Awesome.
Good one, vegan eater!
HA HA HA. Good one.
Ha-ha! The joke is on you. Vegetarians are KNOWN for their endurance. TRY THIS: Find a willing healthy vegetarian, and yourself. Starting at the same time, both hold arms straight out, like a cross. Test endurance, who gives up first. I have seen this demonstrated myself.
Just a point of clarification, Metis are not “the native people Canada”. Metis originated when, the mostly French Canadian voyageurs, partnered with a First Nations woman producing a half French half First Nations child, called Metis. Other European couplings also produced Metis children.
Canadian Indigenous persons are called First Nations, Inuit and Metis, which make up 32% of Canadian First Nations.
As colonialists, it is best to represent history accurately particularly when discussing a nation that was, and still are, subjected to genocidal government initiatives.
Seriously some of the questions are a bit much. Experiment and find some things out for yourselves. This is a good basic recipe. Now play with it!
Nice article. I am a Cree Metis from Canada and I want to say thanks to Sanguine for clarifying, we are not the Native people of Canada, as pointed out we are 3 distinct groups, First Nations, Metis and Inuit. We also did not need to go to the prairies to get meat from, we often hunted up into the north and used many different types of meat from Caribou to buffalo.
I have experience with pemmican, we made a lot of it when I was growing up. One thing we did was to ensure we used smoked meat, this goes a long way to help in the length of preservation, so the person who asked about an electric smoker, that is a great thing to use. However, dehydrated meat (however you dehydrate it) will also work just fine.
I’ve never used beef for pemmican, we always used moose, elk, or deer. But I’m sure beef would be great, I intend to try it at some point. We don’t really buy beef, we hunt in the fall and rarely need to buy it, but this will be a good thing for me to try out.
Thanks for clarifying this. I modified the article – “the Metis (one of the recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada)”.
I believe you that not all families went down-south to hunt, but most (or some) did. I found multiple sources confirming that the Metis hunted down-south and bring the pemmican north to trade: “Converting the buffalo into bags of pemmican the Métis would bring them north to trade at the North West Company posts. Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9tis_buffalo_hunt#Pemmican_trade (this is not the only source)
Once again: Thanks for clarifying this!
I live in the desert and it gets *hot* (looking at 80+ degrees today, while people back east are literally snowed in).
I figure this stuff was probably dehydrated outside back in the day and probably could be done that way again, right? Find a big pot to stick it in (to keep the bugs out) on a hot summer day, put it outside and that should work.
I don’t know about that. Probably won’t work. The Natives smoked it.
When I was a kid my Blackfoot grandfather would make this. He added honey and dried cranberries. Also, the venison in our neck of the woods was corn fed, so it was more tender and had a higher fat content than most. Pretty good stuff. I’d think elk would be even better.
In that day the corn they ate was not genetically modified!
can you use coconut oil instead of lard? It will solidify, add flavor in a little bit of sweetness.
Yes. See comment 36 for more details.
There are a great many dried fruits available in Wal-Mart – blueberries, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, mango, apricots, and of course, raisins. I’d like to try this with some of these dried fruits, and test it out on a backpacking trip.
Do you believe that these storebought dried fruits should be dried further? I notice that your recipe calls for frozen blueberries rather than dried, so wonder how well some of these others might work. Has anyone here ever tried these?
Can I use dried fish and organic Coconut oil?
Dried fish … no. Coconut oil yes.
Maybe you should do some research. Many northern coastal peoples used fish for pemmican. It just smells and tasted like cat food. Not a first choice but still an option.
How well would rabbit meat substitute for the ones mentioned?
Rabbit meat does not contain enough nutrition to sustain you as a sole food source. While I look old enough to be a mountain main, I am not, so my advice is second hand, but it is my understanding that some mountain men starved to death trying to sustain on rabbit meat alone during the winter. Same with trout, you can’t eat enough to get the nutrition you need to sustain.
They starved because there weren’t enough fats & carbs in winter killed rabbits! As you are adding in a fat source, rabbit meat should work great for pemmican.
You would need to use real high quality tallow for your fat. Because, yes you can starve to death on rabbit. I would also add a easily dried high calorie fruit. The same is said for venison. Both are low fat foods that provide too low of calories to sustain a person on their own.
Can a dehydrator be used to dry out the meat and fruit?
Seriously people I see the same questions being asked over and over. Read all the questions and comments before subjecting the author to repeat himself for the 10th time.
How about grassfed goat meat? It is very lean, especially if it’s not a milk fed kid.
Pemmican Wars were huge while Europe, France, and America were still battling for territorial domination during the fur-trade era (early 1800’s). Pemmican was being made as this author states but mostly from buffalo. An early 1800’s cache was unearthed in Washington State in the resent past near Spokane and when unwrapped it was completely eatable still. Pemmican kept fur traders and families alive on many a journey! It’s lean and so healthy!
Lean? Think about that for a minute. It is made with dried meat and rendered FAT, which is the energy element. Ditch the low fat lie, you need fat in your diet, just not the artificial poison from modern food manufacturers.
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Would clarified butter work for the fat? It is considered to be more nutritious than meat fat. We would also use an organic fat because of the hormones, pesticides, herbicides, etc. found in commercially grown animal products.
Do not use butter. Butter goes rancid quickly and melts.
Venison is lean because the fat grows in an insulative layer along the back of the animal instead laced throughout the muscles as in steers. I read “Red River Story” years ago about the Metis` who mixed it in skin bags and sewed them shut then dug pits and left these 100-lb bags buried in caches for trading parties to collect months later. They made a stew from it called rubaboo.
I was wondering about the wax paper being in contact with the pemmican for so long. I think wax paper is made from petroleum. Wouldn’t it be better to make your own wax paper out of bees wax? Or cloth covered with bees wax?
Too bad coconut melts when it is like 76 degrees as I would think it is the best to use . It doesn’t go ranciad like lard can . Now another thing I have learned about lard back in the old days people would put pork or even beef cuts of meat in a bucket of lard to preserve it and it lasted for months .
This may be a silly question but can you use organic unrefined coconut oil? Could you also chia seeds? Would either of these options shorten shelf life?
Just thinking maybe kangaroo meat? It is like deer in that there is very little fat in the meat, it forms a layer subcutaneously. Dense and nutritious. Maybe using bush cherries for sweetness.
Didn’t ever ever hear about that sounds good reminds me of beef jerky need to make some thanks
How about wild hog for the meat and fat?
can I add oats to this or even flex seeds?
I wish I had learned this before now being 1/4 Choctaw Indian from the olders of the Tribe but I did not & now I have a chance to teach my Son & Daughter & all my grandkids this with this site I can learn then show them I always take jerky but I may try this & use it instead Thank You
Can the meat be marinated like beef jerky?
Metis : (especially in western Canada) a person of mixed American Indian and Euro-American ancestry, in particular one of a group of such people who in the 19th century constituted the so-called Métis nation in the areas around the Red and Saskatchewan rivers
I can’t believe some of the comments on this post. Pemmican is for when things go super bad and there is nothing else to eat. And long before that point you will no longer be vegans, or vegetarians, and you won’t be worried about what’s in your food source, or if it was “made” with pink salt or normal table salt. You’ll eat a rat, half cooked, on a stick. Or a stray dog, or cat, or squirrel. You won’t be worried about ANYTHING except eating and staying alive.
Davenna, good point! But, we aren’t there, yet. I think some of this group is intent on preparing ahead, since it is supposed to keep well. By added nutrition while we have it, we can improve our chances. And when things get REALLY BAD, we will have to learn HOW the old-timers did this without electricity, and the equipment we know today.
Could you use dried seaweed like the Nori sheets for sushi or powdered dulse?
I’m Native American from Montana we have knowledge of this. in our tribe we used deer, Elk & Bison , fat was hard to come by but with a little effort you can get some off deer, Elk and Bison. We did not have blueberries but we did use choke cherries and bull berries & wild rose berries.with prairie potatoes for starch and carbs, Farther east used wild rice. Honey was also used. I have also heard of using many different kinds of dried edible flower petals.
Quantas calorias tem conforme as quantidades da receita que mostrou?
Thank goodness our ancesters didn’t know about low fat, vegan or gluten free diets or we wouldn’t be here. Sometimes more knowledge isn’t a good thing. I can see maybe 2 of you surviving a nuclear winter. Maybe.
Can you use true can lard from the local grocery made by Armour? Thank you.
Is it possible to season the pemmican, dried ofcause. Or would it change the shelf life too much?
Thank you for such a great article! We are all here because our ancestors Survivors! This is a great starter recipe. May I clarify that smoking was a way of disinfecting food for centuries. You can naturally pasteurize meat by freezing at or below 0° for at least 2weeks. Remove the meat and I grind into burger. Brown well. Rinse off impurities. Spread out and dry to rock stage, grind to powder. I use chokecherry, rose hips, Sarvis berry.and Elderberries for the high vitamin c an immune boosting properties. Honey or stevia can be added. Ground beans and legumes may be added if meat not desired, rendered fat done properly is clean and naturally pasteurized during the process tense primarily called schmaltz. Salt- I use REAL SALT from Utah as it contains all the essential minerals we need and you use less. Pepper, garlic and onion will help too. Adjust to your taste. Before adding the fat, pasteurize your powder in a canning jar in the oven at 225° for 30 min let cool. Add fat and I press into cookie sheet when cooled I wrap in parchment paper and store in cool dark place…I still use grandpa’s old dinamite box he used. This recipe has been handed down for MANY Countless generations. I converted Granny’s wellness broth to a complete powder that makes a quart jar of bouillon that is a complete survival broth/bouillon with everything a human requires, good survival bread and you are set for ageless easy carry food. Thank you again for taking the time and effort to share your knowledge to help folks. The replies are most entertaining but folks, use your common sense, do your own further research for your personal needs. As grandad used to say “I can explain it to you but I cant UNDERSTAND it for you! Just a note that the recipe I still use is very old and was ingredients foraged from nature you can obtain dried versions from reputable companies online.be kind and appreciative to others…life will go smoother😳
Thank you C. Davis and Farmgranny, I appreciated your great artical and great comments! I have read about Pemmican before and have wanted to give it a try. I have a grass-fed beef in my freezer, but we had the butcher add fat back into our steer’s meat. Could I still use the ground meat for Pemmican and just rinse it really well after browning the meat. We never gave him grain to fatten him on. Thank you again!
The first step to making pemmican is to make very over-done jerky… it needs to be so dried that it will crumble if you pound it with a rock (as the Indians did) or run it to a near-powder in a food processor. I don’t know if ground meat would fill the bill, and doubt if you could rinse the fat off of it. You’d probably have to boil it off, and I don’t think you’ll be making jerky out of boiled meat.
You can render fat in a 200-degree oven or in a crock pot. Use a low setting for several hours, and be sure to stir the fat occasionally until it has stopped bubbling. Then pour it through a mesh strainer to filter out any pieces. This would probably work for your ground beef also, though you would have to use the meat for something other than pemmican. It’s a way to get your fat back out of the ground beef, or at least to get tallow out of it, which is what you need anyway.
Please refrain from calling us Indians. We are not from India. We are Native Americans. Thank you.
I”m curious, when I ordered your book, I noticed that you took all the information to pay for it, but never asked for my mailing address, why?
In a lot of the old histories and such I’ve read the Indians used Bear fat for their pemmican. It seems that beef Tallow is the absolutely worst edible food you can put into your body. (short of outright poisonous foods)
Beef Fat was the only Clean food that the ancient Hebrews were forbidden to eat.. They could use it for anything else, but Not eat it.
Unclean foods were not even supposed to be touched..I don”t know how healthy the bear fat was, either.
Also you can eat bear meat, but Not the liver. It’s so high in iron that it poisons you.
I guess you’re aware that medical thinking about fat has changed in recent years. Thought now is that the worst thing you can do is avoid fat. Consume lots of coconut oil, whole milk, butter, etc. Fat (unless hydrogenated or otherwise adulterated) is good for you, for your heart health and other things. You don’t have to use beef fat, specifically… fat from any red meat will do. That lets out pork, chicken, etc. but if you can get elk, moose, bear, or find enough on a deer, etc, it will work if you have some specific prejudice against beef.
That may be true today, the way our hogs are raised, and tested for tricinosis, but post shtf they will be less managed and there may be a resurgence of many parasites and diseases we dismiss today, forgotten but not really gone.one sure practice is to raise your own, if the animal is healthy it will be safer to eat
What about vacuumed sealed bags would work better
The secret to pemmican’s long shelf life is in properly rendering the fat from the meat, to get proper tallow. The pemmican can be stored in airtight containers without refrigeration in a cool, dark and dry place. If made and stored property, it can last for years or even decades. There are reports of some pemmican lasting 50 or more years. Decades-old pemmican has been found in clay jars, sealed with beeswax and buried in the ground. Likely vacuum sealing would be good, but not necessary. Even without sealing it should last for years. Properly made and sealed… decades.
How do you keep it from going rancid?
Make your tallow correctly, (completely well-rendered) and use only two ingredients, tallow from red meat plus highly-dried (Over-dried, thin-cut jerky) red meat. Do that and it will last for years, or decades. When you start to stray from that, you start to lose shelf life. You can add various dried berries, nuts, or whatnot to flavor it if you want, but if you add those things, nobody is going to dig up your jars 50 years from now and find edible pemmican inside! You have to decide what your goal in making pemmican is going to be. Do you want it to have a shelf-life of decades, or do you plan to eat it as you make it? If it only needs to last a week or two, then it doesn’t matter WHAT you put in it.
hey here is a thought how about you make it and I will buy it seems so much easier to me !!!! lol
no really could you include a website where you can buy premade stuff
I mean if I am going to have to go to the store and buy all the materials to make it anyway then why not just buy it from someone who already knows how to make it cause if I make it I am probably going to end up with food poisioning or some crap like that by the time it is all said and done I will be missing half my stomach and 6 feet of intestines cause they had to cut it out from eating 2year old rotten deer meat just a thought !!
The short answer is that a web address for pre-made pemmican wasn’t included because there is no such website that would be allowed to sell in the USA if it were really pemmican.
In the USA, the law forbids selling of ready-to-eat meat that isn’t at least partially cooked.
That means you can’t buy real pemmican or real jerky. All of it has been heated to over 160 degrees for a period long enough to sterilize it.
You can visit https://discover.grasslandbeef.com/blog/pemmican-superfood-for-centuries
There, you can buy bars or pails of what they call pemmican.
It keeps for up to 2 years in a freezer, or bars last two weeks in a refrigerator. The pail lasts 7 days in a refrigerator, and they recommend frozen storage for all of it.
That doesn’t sound to me like something someone might be digging out of the ground in a stoneware jar 80 years from now and finding it still edible and nutritious.
At https://discover.grasslandbeef.com/blog/beef-tallow-rendering-usage-storage/ they sell grass-fed beef tallow. That is the main benefit of the website, in my book.
Minimum order is $75, so plan on dividing the tallow up into freezer bags and freezing them.
That’s two pails of pre-made pemmican (such as it is) at $37 each, 7 small pails of tallow (1.7lbs each), or a 5-gallon bucket (36 lbs) of tallow for $115.
Of course you can cook with beef tallow, in addition to making pemmican and it’s actually healthy for you, with lots of omega fatty acids, as opposed to Crisco, Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil (do they press that stuff from Canola seeds??), Olive Oil, Lard, etc.
Found this thread peculiar. Acorn meal or flour not mentioned once, despite some reputed Indians (qua First Nation folk) contributing.
Truth be told, for making pemmican Indians used whatever their tribal tradition indicated and which was at hand. That would be salt, lean smoked meats from hunting, acorn meal leeched of tannin, and whatever nuts (hickory, etc.) and berries had been in season.
Everything gets dried and powdered, and then rendered fat (anciently not beef and not fowl either) got added until a dry-ish paste was achieved.
Preppers would seek to find out how all that got done without electricity. Suppose a water or wind mill could get used for making acorn meal/flour and for grinding dried nuts. .
It got done without electricity using two stones, a pouonder and a larger pounding surface. That would pound anything into a powder.
In modern times, you can use a manual grain mill, which clamps or mounts to a table edge like a sausage grinder.
Grain mills are somewhat like sausage grinders, though you can’t grind meat with them. They are meant for dry goods.
Even oily nuts (like walnuts) in too large a quantity can be a gooey problem.
For a grain mill, you can and either buy a set of Flour Plates, or you can grind your nuts, wheat, etc., then re-grind a couple more times to get a powdered flour.
Ebay is eaten up with grain mills for under $50.
Corona mills are the best… you can get repair parts for them and they aren’t aluminum.
If you’re doing meat for pemmican, under normal circumstances, a food processor is best, or even a blender.
If you’re thinking about post-SHTF, a crank-type sausage grinder might be best. Even highly-dried meat has a lot of oil content.
Do you sell it? Is it like Hardtack and last 100 years?
Cost if you do sell it?
Maybe she sells pemmican, though it’s illegal to sell real pemmican or real jerky.
The FDA requires that any meat offered for sale be at least partially cooked, which is to say heated to at least 160 degrees, though not necessarily for long enough time to actually cook it completely.
Still, jerky and pemmican are both raw meat that has simply been dried, usually at temps less than 100 degrees.
In the case of jerky, usually just hung outdoors in the sunlight and covered with food-grade cheesecloth to keep the houseflies off.
Here in a South Texas summer, that means “dried at about 130 degrees” in direct sunlight.
Nothing wrong with ‘cooking’ proteins before incorporating them into pemmican.
In fact, 160F for an hour recommended, so as to kill bacteria and parasites. That’s 160F internal temperature, not surface. Really cautious folk will ensure that chunks of wild protein (aside from fish) briefly reach 212F (100C) internally. Only then they macerate and powder those meats.
Northern Europeans, Scandinavians, and Inuit aforetime salt-dried seafood proteins. Some Scandinavians have a nasty food wherein their seafood gets soaked in a chemical base.
That leads to Christopher Columbus, who wasn’t venturing blindly as often alleged. Portuguese folk had been fishing for centuries off Canada’s Grand Banks, taking their catches ashore to fillet and dry-barrelling the result to sell in Northwestern European ports, then going home.
Due the Norse (Eric the Red et al., and the Portuguese) the ‘New World’ was a worst-kept ‘secret’. See that L’ance Aux Meadows site. Henry Ford was correct; ‘official’ history as taught in US public ‘schools’ is bunkum.
This is a wonderful blog, and I really enjoy all the good survival tips offered here. So now I’m considering stocking up on SPAM and jerky. And since my wife and I both like SPAM and jerky, whenever we consume an item from our survival stash we could promptly restock the item and therefore keep most of our stash fresh. I’m still trying to figure out how I could afford to build a decent root cellar, one not too big but have room enough for me to walk inside. Shortage of money is what is holding me back.
To start a root cellar, all that you initially need is a well-drained soil location, strength, time, and a good shovel and a flat file.
Main problem in much of North America is that the water table is rather close to the surface. Great for folks wanting a well, not so great for dry cellars. Some folks instead build a mound ‘cellar’
Public libraries aforetime had illustrated books.
if the weather is not freezing or below, better keep the tallow separate from the jerky and berries. mix a days worth at a time. Then if the fat goes rancid (and it always does in a year, if not in the fridge, and will in 2 years, even if it’s refrigerated. HARD frozen, it might last much longer, I dunno. anyway, if the tallow goes bad, you can still eat the berries and jerky. So be careful. Dont have the tallow be so hot that it cooks the meat, or it’ll definitely spoil pretty quickly.
I am a cautious person who seeks to learn. With the article about pemmican I was motivated to make a generous portion that will guarantee me a good time of self-subsistence.
But I was left with a doubt that I hope will be clarified: What would be the weight of a (dry) slice of pemmican that would be sufficient for a day’s journey?
Having this information I can program how much I should carry in my backpack for a journey of X days.
long term, best leave your rendered fat separate. and mix up only a week or so’s worth of pemmican at a time, then if the tallow goes bad, youll not have also ruined your dried berries and jerky.
So you can store just dried powdered meat? In a vacuum sealed bag with an oxygen absorber?
What about adding some RAW crushed Burr Oak acorns ( can be eaten without leeching) to the pemmican ground meat and berry mix. Would this still shorten shelf life, and what do I look for if it is going bad?
Thanks for your assistance.
Can you store dried powdered meat (without the tallow) in a vacuum sealed bag then in a mylar bag with oxygen absorber for long term storage. If so, how long would it store for?