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How To Make Pemmican: A Practical Guide

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How To Make Pemmican

Have you ever wondered how you'd be able to feed yourself if conventional means weren't an option? 

If you're a prepper, you probably have, and you've probably began stockpiling tons of non-perishable food items.

How much did that cost you?

I'm willing to bet it wasn't cheap.

A single month's supply of MRE pouches can cost as much as $500.

Thereadystore.com offers MRE supplies starting from 72-hour kits to 1 year supplies. Here are the costs:

Kit type

Cost

72 hour kit

$65

1 week kit

$146

1 month kit

$527

3 month kit

$1582

6 month kit

$3165

1 year kit 

$6330

Even storing things such as canned foods and dry grains can cost an astronomical amount.

Relying solely on traditional prepping methods also has another drawback.

You have to acquire all of that survival food before a survival situation begins.

During normal times you won't easily run out of survival food, but during a disaster or after one you won't be able to log onto your favorite site and order food during a survival situation.

Luckily, there are a few different food items that you can make before or during a survival situation, and they'll fill their role as a survival food well.

We've already talked about hardtack in another blog post.

So, we'll focus on pemmican this time.

Before we get started, you should know what pemmican is.

What Is Pemmican?

Pemmican is one of the healthiest survival foods you can make, and it can last for decades.

More importantly, it's a protein-based food.

So, you won't have to survive off of flour and water biscuits like you would if you just had hardtack.

Pemmican is made from ground meat, and it is mixed with rendered animal fat after it's dried.

It resembles hardened spam when it's finished.

There are a bunch of different things that you can add for flavor and nutrients, but the basic recipe is simple. 

Pemmican is a traditional survival food invented by the Native Americans and has seen huge popularity during the late 1800's and early 1900's.

The pemmican was placed in tin cans and wrapped in parchment and taken on the arctic and antarctic expeditions. 

What You'll Need To Make Pemmican

You'll only need 3 ingredients and some basic cooking tools to make the basic recipe. 

1: Lean meat: 

You'll need meat to make pemmican. You can use deer, elk, bison, moose, or beef. 

That makes it possible to be made on the fly if you don't prepare beforehand. 

You don't have to worry about the quality of the cut that much. 

Just make sure that it's relatively lean. 

You don't want a lot of fat veins running through the middle of the meat. This recipe calls for 1 cup of dried meat after it's ground. 

2: Animal fat: 

This comes with the meat. So, you don't have to do anything special to acquire this. 

It'll work as a binding agent for the pemmican, and you'll need roughly a cup of it once it's rendered. 

So, try to make sure your meat isn't too lean. You don't want to have to source animal fat from a different source. 

3: A drying rack or oven: 

This is to dry the meat out before you process it. 

You can use a drying rack in a pinch, but your home oven will work just fine in times of peace. 

The drying rack method requires an outdoor setup. It'll use sunlight to dry out the meat. 

So, it's a little slower than using an oven.

4: Pot or pan: 

This is just to render the animal fat. I suggest getting one with relatively thick walls. 

That will allow you use it on a campfire without worrying about damaging it. 

5: Knife: 

Make sure that your knife is sharp. 

You'll need to slice the meat thinly, and you'll have to use it to cut off the fat. 

Your survival knife should work just fine.

6: Stirring instrument: 

You'll need to stir the fat while it cooks. 

This isn't a major item, but I want this list to be complete.

In a survival situation, you can use literally anything to stir your animal fat. 

7: Mixing bowl: 

After all of the ingredients are prepared, you'll have to mix them. 

The recipe that I'm going to cover will make a decent amount of pemmican. 

So, you'll need a bowl that's large enough to hold it all.

If you want pemmican that is a little more flavorful, you can use a few extra ingredients. 

For those that prefer to watch a video instead of reading text, then the next video is for you.

It's a comprehensive video on how to make pemmican at home

Salt

This isn't even remotely optional if you plan to store your pemmican for any real length of time.

However, you don't need it for a batch that you'll eat within a day or two, and you might not have access to salt in a survival situation.

That's why I'm putting this down as an optional ingredient.

You want to use salt when you make pemmican. 

It'll allow it to last for ridiculous amounts of time.

If you use a lot of salt, it can outlast you. 

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit isn't necessary to make pemmican, but it can add a lot of nutrients and flavor to the dish.

You can use just about any dried fruit out there, but the most popular choices are dried cranberries, cherries, and raisins.

Do keep in mind that these fruits will make your pemmican spoil faster than it would if it were just meat and fat. 

Nuts

Pemmican already has plenty of protein and fat in it, but you can add more by mixing in nuts.

Like the dried fruit, nuts will decrease the shelf life of your pemmican.

I recommend using dry additives for short-term storage, but I'd leave additives out of anything you need to preserve for a long time. 

Wet Additives

If you want, you can add some honey, maple syrup, or a nut butter of your choice.

Honey and maple syrup will make your pemmican sweet, and they're both packed with nutrients.

This is especially true for honey. 

Peanut butter will add a lot of extra fat and protein to your pemmican, and it's inexpensive.

You have to remember that these additives will greatly reduce your pemmican's shelf life.

If you're making it on the fly, and you just want to enjoy it, it's okay to add these.

Don't use these additives if you plan to store it for years, though. 

How To Make Pemmican

Making pemmican is simple, and it doesn't take that long to make.

During normal times, you can easily make it in the comfort of your home during your free time. 

If you're camping or in a survival situation, it's not a very involved process.

So, you can make it while you work on other camp tasks.

In the sections below, I'm going to go over each step that you'll have to take to make pemmican yourself. 

Prepare Your Meat

Regardless of which meat you use, you'll need to dry it.

Start by using a sharp knife to remove any fat from the meat.

You want to remove all of the fat before you move ahead with any other steps.

The meat won't be properly cooked, and you don't want gelatinous fat spoiling your pemmican.

After you've ensured that all of the fat is removed, set it aside and start slicing your meat.

You'll want a very sharp knife for this.

You need to cut the meat as thinly as possible.

That will help with drying it out, and it'll make the dried pieces easier to process later.

Now, you need to start drying the meat slices.

If you're using a drying rack and the sun, this can take a while.

You'll want to use an oven, it's a bit easier. 

You just have to put the oven on a very low heat, set the meat directly on the middle rack, and let it sit.

Regardless of which method you use, you'll know it's done when the meat starts to crack when bent.

Make sure that you dry it completely.

Raw meat won't last for long, and it's liable to make you sick.

If you have the luxury of using salt to make your pemmican last a long time, this is the step that you use it in. ​

Season the meat with salt before you dry it. 

If you're new to drying meat, take a look at the video below

Grind It Up

If you have the luxury of using home appliances for this step, you should take advantage of them.

You need to grind the meat until it's a relatively fine powder.

A regular blender will do just fine.

But be sure that you cut the meat up really small before you blend it.

If you don't have access to those luxuries, you can cut the meat up into the smallest pieces you can manage, and you can act like a caveman for the rest of the process. 

Just smash it until it's dust. 

Melt Your Animal Fat

I hope that you didn't get rid of the animal fat that you cut off of the meat.

You'll need it for this step.

Once the meat is dry and powdered, you'll need to start preparing the fat. This is easy.

All you have to do is melt it in a pot.

Try to keep the heat relatively low. You don't want to burn it, and you don't want to destroy your pot.

If you're doing this over a campfire, you can lower the amount of heat that your pot is exposed to by simply moving it to the edge of the fire.

But if you're lucky enough to have your pot tied above your fire, you can just raise it higher.

As the fat melts, you need to stir it when it bubbles.

You don't have to constantly stir it. 

Just keep it from bubbling out of control.

If the fat boils over, it will react the same way as pouring hot oil on your stove.

You don't want that to happen. 

When the fat is fully melted, do your best to strain out any pieces of meat that may have accidentally gotten added to the fat.

Cooked meat will spoil. However, these are called cracklings in most country homes, and they taste pretty good.

Feel free to eat them when they cool down.

This Glen and Friends Cooking video shows you how to render fat. 

Dry Additives

If you're not adding any dry ingredients, you can skip this step. 

If you want to add dry fruits, nuts, or any other dry ingredients, this is the time to do it. Once you go past this point, it's going to be too late. 

All you have to do is dump your dry ingredients into your mixing bowl with your dried meat.

After that, you can lightly mix them. 

Add The Fat

Now that your dry ingredients are all mixed up, you can simply mix in the rendered fat.

This isn't a scientific process.

If you have 1 cup of dry ingredients in your bowl, you'll want to start out by adding half of a cup of fat.

Then, if it's still dry, you should have another half cup to add.

If you plan to add honey or other wet ingredients, you need to leave it a little dry.

You don't want to have to add anything because you made it too wet. 

Wet Additives

Right now, you probably have a slurry of meat, fat, and nuts.

Now is the time to add any wet ingredients you have.

Once the fat starts to cool, it will be too late. 

You can add these ingredients to taste, but don't add too much.

You'll have to mix in almond meal or flour if it gets too wet, and that's another ingredient you'll have to source.

In a survival situation, that can be an issue. 

Mold It

If you just let your pemmican sit in the mixing bowl, you'll have a big blob of it in no time. 

Obviously, that's not something that will be easy to eat.

You don't need anything fancy to mold your pemmican into individual pieces.

Rolling the pemmican into balls that match what you can eat in a single serving should do the trick, and you can place them on whatever you have available.

Preferably a clean surface.

If you want your pemmican to be a little fancier, you can spread it thinly across a cookie sheet or casserole dish.

When it hardens, you'll have a nice sheet that you can slice into pieces. 

Put It Up

Pemmican doesn't require any serious storage preparation.

You can simply shove it in a TupperWare container, plop it in a cabinet, and save it for later.

If you want to increase its shelf life, you can put it in your freezer.

You'll have to let it thaw a bit before you eat it, but it'll last longer. 

Conclusion

I believe that pemmican is one of the few survival foods out there that won't cost you an arm and a leg to stockpile.

More importantly, it's filled with nutrients, and you can make it in the field.​

It might not be as close to a home cooked meal as an MRE, but it contains a lot of calories, and it's a great source of protein.

That gives it several advantages over hardtack.

If you liked the post, I encourage you to share your opinions in my comment section, and I hope that you'll share it with your friends.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope that I was able to teach you something new.


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