Pemmican was a staple trail food used by Native American scouts, and was quickly adopted by the early Western explorers who followed. Once prepared, pemmican is a compact, low weight foodstuff that provides a substantial amount of protein, carbohydrates, and high calorie fats which convert quickly to energy. It’s a near optimal way to concentrate the nutrition and calories one might need while on the move, and as such is an ideal food for survival preparedness kits.
Pemmican is a combination of rendered animal fat, pulverized dehydrated meats, and typically some dried fruits. It’s relatively easy to make, and requires only lean meat, raw tallow (beef fat), blueberries, pitted cherries, cranberries, or other fruit which is easily dehydrated. To make pemmican, first slice the meat thinly and place it along with your desired fruits on a drying rack or in a dehydrator. Dehydrate until the meat and berries break when pressure is applied—if they are rubbery, or bend or deform without breaking, they still contain too much water content.
The next step is to prepare your fat. Though tallow (beef fat) is preferred, lard (or pork fat) can also be used. There are multiple different methods for rendering fat, but for our purposes, we’ll be using one of the simplest. Prepare the fat by chopping it finely in a food processor, then place the minced fat in a sauce pan large enough to accommodate it. Heat the pan containing the fat over the lowest heat setting on your stove, cover, and cook it until the fat melts completely. You’ll be left with a pale straw to golden colored liquid with small bits of burnt debris floating on top. At this stage, remove it from the heat and strain it into a container through a colander or metal strainer lined with cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or several layers of paper towel.
While you are rendering the fat, prepare the dehydrated meat and fruit by running them separately through a food processor or a blender until they take on a cottony or “fluffy” consistency. Set the processed meat and fruit aside until your fat is rendered and strained. Once strained, pour the liquid fat over the meat and berries until it is well saturated—you can tell when you’ve reached the proper amount by the fact that (when cooled) the resulting mass sticks together and will not crumble or fall apart.
That’s all there is to it. Store in a water-proof container until needed—as long as you keep it out of direct light and away from moisture, it will last for a very long time.
To your survival,