How To Make Pemmican Survival Food

We are going to teach you how to make Pemmican. This concentrated mixture of both fat and protein is the ultimate survival food made to last. On that note, you can store the mix in airtight containers even without refrigeration. When done properly, it can last you a good sum of years.

Ripe is this blend with calories and nutrition. It has come to even inspire some of today’s protein/energy bars.

And over the course of time, it has achieved such statuses of being absolutely sine qua non; high-energy; and highly reliable.


Pemmican was invented by the native peoples of North America but it then was adopted by the incoming Europeans. Its appreciation and usage most notably started with the fur trade. It then later expanded into the hands of arctic and antarctic explorers and several notable figures who such as were adventurers and expeditionists, and soldiers.

British troops, during the Second Boer War, would have iron rations given to them that included four ounces of pemmican. That pemmican was considered to still last in mint condition for decades. Additionally, it was to be considered superior to biltong, a form of cured game meat originating from Africa. Men allegedly could walk for at least 36 hours before dropping when given pemmican – though they were to only use it as a last resort.

Learn how to make Pemmican here. Video on the next page tells you more.

“Pemmican”, the word or term we use today derives from the Cree word,”pimîhkân”, which in and of itself derives from the word, “pimî”, or fat grease.

Now, the ingredients one would usually use, and will be what you would might – later, usually was whatever that was or is available. But even with that, we have some choices more often used than others. Such as the meat most often being of either bison, deer, elk, or moose.

Then you have dried fruit extras such as blueberries, cherries, chokeberries and currants though they most only are used for weddings and other ceremonies. While wet extras could include honey, maple syrup, or peanut butter. And on top of it all, sometimes, we have cranberries and saskatoon berries being added into the mix.

Anyways let’s get to the steps…

1. How to Make Pemmican: Dry the Meat

First, you will have to dry the meat. Have all the fat cut off then slice it as thin as possible prior to placing it on the drying rack under the heat of sunlight. You can also place the meat in an oven but the temperature must be at the lowest setting. You will need the meat as dry enough that it cracks if you were to try and bend it. The addition of salt will extend the meat’s shelf life. Furthermore, the more you add, the longer shall it last.

How to Make Pemmican - Preparation
Traditional drying of Pemmican meat. – Courtesy of Wikipedia

This goes much with the traditional preparation of pemmican – which also gives the option, by the way, of a slow fire for your lean meat of large game to be dried.

2. How to Make Pemmican: Pound or Grind the Meat into a Powder

Second, you must then grind or pound the meat into a powder. With a food processor, you can try to mince the meat and then later grind it inside of a blender. However, in a survival situation, you will have to manually chop your meat into small bits and or pieces and then crush them until they reach a powder-like form. Traditionally, you would do this with stones.

3. How to Make Pemmican: Render the fat

Third, you then will have to render the fat. The reason why pemmican lasts so long lies a lot in this “rendering the fat” process. If done properly, you can get the most years or least spoil chance out of your pemmican. So start by heating up the fat in a crockpot, on the stove or in the oven. A low setting you must use for several hours. Make sure to stir the fat just occasionally so that it reaches a point where it stops bubbling. Lastly, pour this fat through a mesh strainer so that you can filter out any solid remaining pieces.

4. How to Make Pemmican: Add any dry extras

Fourth, if you have any dried fruit or nuts you plan to add, this will be the time to add them in. Mix these along with the dried meat in a size-worthy bowl while leaving enough room for you to later mix in your fat .

These, however, when added could take away some of the shelf life off your pemmican.

5. How to Make Pemmican: Mix the fat and meat

Fifth, add in now the fat you rendered earlier. For each two parts of the dried meat mix, add one part of fat. Pour onto your meat mixture the hot liquid fat just slowly and then remember to stir well.

More traditional preparations of pemmican, however, would have the meat mixed alongside the fat at a 1:1 ratio.

6. How to Make Pemmican: Form your Pemmican
How to Make Pemmican - Long-Lasting Survival Food
Served ball of Pemmican. – Courtesy of Wikipedia

You may add some wet extras before going unto our sixth step. That, however, like the addition of dry extras can reduce the shelf life of your pemmican. If it gets too wet, you can add a bit of almond. If bland, you can add salt.

For the sixth step, you will now need to form your pemmican. Cut the meat however you may like but let it get a bit firm before doing so. For some ideas, we have squares or in bars, balls, and it being spread into a casserole.

7. How to Make Pemmican: Store your Pemmican

You must now store the pemmican you just made for the last and final step. Place those cuts into airtight containers and be able to store them in any cool, dark or dry place. You can also consider putting those cuts in the freezer via zipper bags. Again, traditionally, people would come to store their pemmican into rawhide bags.

Extra Notes: The ratios for the ingredients may change from source to source. You may tweak the ratios to your liking. A lot of sources normally choose the ratios – one is to one – for all the ingredients added. The process, however, remains pretty much still the same everywhere.

If you are interested to learn more then watch this short video.


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