Pemmican Recipe

Have you ever wondered how is the process of preserving meat before modern canning methods were invented? Preserving meat is a vital skill for survival, and making pemmican is one of the easiest and most effective ways to preserve meat.

Pemmican is one of the original meat and fat survival products. In its simplest form, pemmican is just a way to store meat for a long time without refrigeration. It usually includes dried fruits, nuts with some spices.

The reason pemmican is interesting is that it can be preserved for about 10 years (some people claim up to 50 years, but I think this is an exaggeration) and it only needs to be kept in a cool condition so that it will not spoil.

What is Pemmican and How Can You Make One?

Depending on where the pemmicans are made, recipes vary greatly. Some tribes can get a variety of fruits and nuts, while others can only use few suitable additives to improve the taste of pemmicans.

How Did it Get its Name Pemmican?

The word comes from pimîhkân, a Cree word, which is also derived from the word pimî.
Pemmican was used by Native Americans to preserve meat. It is usually made from any available meat (such as bison, elk, deer and moose).

When Europeans came to the America, they learned the recipe from the Native tribes and adopted it. The ability to produce pemmican was actually one of the ways in which the primitive fur trade flourished, and was the main content of early explorers.

In the past, pemmican was so important that the export of pemmicans in certain areas was banned, and the so-called “pemican war” began in the early 19th century.

Although Pemmican is not really making a comeback in this generation, rather it is only becoming more and more popular among those involved in preparation and survival.

This interest is because pemmican is relatively easy to prepare, does not require energy or other modern preparation methods, and is very light compared to its calories.

Preparing pemmican is also a good survival skill. This technique allows you to store and store large amounts of meat, otherwise you may never eat it until it spoils.

What is the Difference Between Jerky and Pemmican?

Jerky is lean meat strips that are dried and salted to remove moisture, thereby inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and preserving the meat.

Pemmican is made from almost all available meat. The meat is then chopped and mixed with the extracted fat. Sometimes, berries and nuts are added to pemmican based on the food available.

Procedure of Making a Pemmican

1. Dry the meat of your choice: You can use any meat (bison, elk, deer and moose) or beef to make pemmicans.

These thin strips are then placed on a rack to dry under the sun until they break when folded. Or, put the meat strips in the oven at the lowest setting to dry the meat.

You can also add salt to the meat strips to increase the flavor and preserve the final product. Lean cuts are best, but if the meat is well dried, fatty cuts can also be used.

The traditional meat drying technique is a combination of smoking and drying, which can be achieved by placing a tripod on an open flame and hanging thin strips of meat over the fire to dry and smoke the meat instead of cooking it.

2. Grate the dried meat. This step involves grinding the dried meat to a powdered consistency. This can be done with a hand grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Another way to cut meat is to use a food processor or blender. This modern method of making pemmicans is much faster than the traditional method.

Moreover, traditional meat grinding is done with stone. In a survival situation, you can easily grind as much meat as possible using smooth stones.

3. Remove fat from meat. One of the most important parts of the formula is fat reproduction. Slowly heat the fat on the fire or stove. Stir the fat from time to time, then heat it until it stops bubbling. This means that the fat has been processed correctly.

Alternatively, you can put the fat in a slow cooker.

After proper processing, the fat is filtered through a fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining solids.

Note that oil or fat can catch fire when smoking. If this happens, consider reducing the heat or removing the pot from the fire.

Another source of extracted fat is white fat left over from stews or cooking meat. This fat is very suitable for pemmicans, you can use fat that would otherwise be wasted.

4. Mix minced meat and dry ingredients. Add dried fruits, nuts or spices to dried meat. Keep in mind that the more oil and moisture you add to the mixture, the pot life of the finished pemmican may be shorter.

Drying additives in the same manner how you dried the meat. Chop the berries and pat dry. Dried berries or fruits can be chopped like meat or ground into powder.

Cranberries and Saskatoon berries were used historically. Modern ingredients can also try to add flavor to the pemmican mixture.

Any nuts or fruits can be used in the dried pemmican mix. We can get many ingredients that Native Americans dream of. Try to find the best method for you.

Other recommended ingredients would be brown sugar, cranberries, sunflower seeds, peppers or any other condiments you might like.

Mix the meat and dry additives in a ratio of approximately 1:1.

5. Add the extracted fat. Then add 1 part of the extracted fat to 2 parts of the dry mixture. Slowly add the extracted fat, being careful not to add too much. Mix everything until the mixture becomes smooth.

Another way to make pemmican is to mix pre-extracted and refrigerated fat. If you are using solid fats, mixing is even more important. You need to mix these ingredients until all the fat lumps are broken down and evenly distributed.

6. Mix the wet ingredients. Other ingredients such as honey, maple syrup and peanut butter can be added to enhance the taste of the pemmican. If the mixture is too wet, you can add flour or almond until the mixture becomes firm again.

7. Shape the pemmican into sticks or balls. In many survival situations, it is easier to make the pemmican into small balls, but you can also spread the pemmican into a thin layer. When the mixture is dry, you can cut the pemmican into sticks.

8. Store the finished product. If you store pemmican in an airtight container in a cool place, it will last longer. Though, it is difficult to obtain a sealed container under living conditions especially in a survival situation.

Traditionally, Native Americans kept pemmican in rawhide bags, so it is enough to cover pemmican and keep it relatively cool.

You can also store the pemmicans in a traditional cellar.

Another traditional pemmican product is sausage, which is packaged in the intestines of animals. These sausages are usually divided into different parts so that they can be easily separated and packaged.

Peanut butter, nuts and vegetable skins can be used instead of meat products to make vegetarian food equivalent to pemmican. However, the calorie content of this vegetarian pemmican is different, so it must be cooked correctly.

Is it Safe to Add Salt to Pemmican?

Most pemmican recipes are salt-free. This doesn’t mean that you can’t add it if you have it, it just means that traditionally salt is sometimes not available and is unnecessary for making pemmicans.

Some people add salt to the meat before drying. Others add salt to the mixture to form strips of dried pemmicans—which is fine anyway. You can also simply add salt to the pemmican when it is ready to eat.

Total Calories You Can Get From Pemmican?

Pemmican’s energy is between fat, meat, and optional berries and nuts, so a 4 ounce piece of pemmican can contain 700 to 800 calories.

This makes it an ideal choice for a survival situation where you burn a lot of calories.


Pemmican is one of the primitive methods used by our ancestors to preserve meat.

Finished product of pemmican is high in calories (mainly protein and fat) and can nourish the body for several hours. In addition, pemmican is light in weight, has a long shelf life, and is very delicious when cooked. Correctly used for stew or frying.

If you want to produce pemmican to supplement your food supply, you can go to the butcher to buy the fat and meat you need. Go for lean cuts and suet.

Suet is solid white fat that surrounds the liver and other organs. Compared with other types of fats, this type of fat is less troublesome to deal with, and it can also improve the taste of your pemmican.

Once you learn how to make pemmican, you can store the meat for a long time without the need for many other specialized items or equipment.