Meat preservation is a hot topic amongst preppers and being able to prepare and later on, enjoy a good meat ration is a must when it comes to preparedness. To prepare for and conquer the future, we sometimes must look into the past, as there are no better teachers than our ancestors. They knew how to survive and thrive with what the land had to offer and they passed their learning and methods to us. This article will present one of their teachings, how to make Pemmican, a traditional food of native North Americans.
The use of electrical energy via freezing is the most common form of meat preservation today. The ability to preserve food when electricity isn’t available will make the difference between life and death for many preppers. Being able to add to your pantry, a food source that is high in proteins shouldn’t be a luxury and you have to make sure, you have enough meat supplies to last you a long time. When there will be no electrical power, your freezer will become just a fancy shelf and you will have to learn other ways to preserve your meat.
Another method for preserving meat is canning, but as you know it requires jars and lids and a heat source. Those are medium-technology items, however, and may not be available deep into a crisis.
The most primitive methods of meat preservation and the most dependable ones, require a lot of human energy. These would be smoking, making jerky, and making pemmican.
What is pemmican and why should it be of interest to you?
Pemmican is a nutritious, preserved food created by the women of Native American tribes. The term Pemmican is derived from pimii, the Cree-Chippewa word for fat. Pemmican consists of a mixture of cooked, dried and shredded buffalo meat, or fish, which is combined with melted fat. The pemmican was tightly packed into a bag made of buffalo skin and used as a convenient type of long lasting food.
In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail due to its content of proteins and vitamins. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost. Besides assuring a good health of the Native Americans, Pemmican was also considered a super-food do to its content of buffalo meat and the proprieties it was passing on. The warriors of the Indian tribes believed that if they ate pemmican, they will be strong and healthy as the mighty buffalo.
In today’s modern times, Pemmican is ideal for preppers because it is a high-energy, fast food that is easily transportable and long lasting.
How to make pemmican
The Traditional Indian Recipe:
Native American women used dried buffalo meat to make pemmican. The method and recipe for making pemmican was as follows:
- The buffalo meat was first dried and then it was heated through over a low fire.
- The meat was beaten with sticks or stones into fine shreds so that it can be well mixed with the other ingredients
- Buffalo tallow was melted and the shredded meat stirred into the hot fat to create pemmican
- The pemmican was 50 percent meat and 50 percent fat
- Berries and dried fruit were sometimes added to the pemmican
- The mixture was tightly packed and fastened into a bag made of buffalo skin
- The pemmican would then cool and harden
- Pemmican would last for over a year and was eaten dry or boiled in water
Pemmican Balls – Mountain men recipe
This the classic survival ration recipe, a paste of powdered jerky mixed with dried berries, nuts, and meted suet rolled up into balls.
To make pemmican balls you must first make jerky and locate a source of fat for the suet. Beef or pork fat can be used, as other animals often do not have enough fat to use with their meat.
The jerky for pemmican is made in the usual manner (learn from this article about making it), but in thinner strips. The meat source used should be the best cuts available, stripped to be about one inch by 1/4 inch, and as long as possible. The jerky strips should be very hard and more brittle than needed for regular jerky. The strips are then pounded (using a meat hammer or whatever works for you) to powder the meat fibers.
The fat (or suet) used for pemmican is melted slowly without overheating in a large kettle. The kettle is then taken from the heat source and allowed to cool. Then the fat is examined, and only the hardest, purest fat is put aside for use in the pemmican. The very soft fat can be used to make soap.
Everything is then ready to make pemmican. You will need to make fist sized balls composed of 50% powdered meat (with a touch of salt added), and 50% suet with a small amount of dry, powdered berries and/or nuts. The components are then thoroughly mixed (the suet can be softened with heat) and formed into fist-sized balls.
The pemmican balls must then be preserved and protected against moisture and here are three methods to do it:
- Wrap the pemmican balls in waxed paper and dip them in wax.
- Wrap the pemmican balls in cheesecloth, and dip them in suet. This is the “classical” method used by mountain men.
- Just dip the pemmican balls in melted suet.
Pemmican hunter’s recipe
- 4 cups lean meat (deer, caribou or moose)
- 3 ½ cups dried fruit (blueberries, chokeberries, raisins, etc)
- 2 cups rendered fat
- 1 cup unsalted nuts
- 1 shot of honey
Procure meat as lean as possible and double grind it using a meat grinder. Spread it out very thin on a cooking sheet and dry at 180 degrees F for at least 8 hours, until the meat becomes strong and crispy. Pound the meat into a nearly powder consistency using a powerful blender or other tool you have at hand. Grind the dried fruits. Heat the rendered fat on a stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruits, and mix in nuts and honey. Mix everything by hand and let it cool before storing it in your pantry. You can store it and be consumed for several years.
Pemmican modern recipe
- Dried lean beef, buffalo, or venison
- Beef suet
- Seedless dried fruit (apricots, dried apples, etc)
Grind the meat and dry it as you did for the previous recipe. Once the meat is crispy you can grind it into a powder. Melt the suet until it becomes golden brown and liquid. Strain out any solids if the case. If you cool the suet, re-melt it and strain it again, as it will improve the shelf life of the pemmican. Chop or grind the dried fruits and add it to the meat. Pour liquid suet onto the meat and fruit mixture. Mixes best if suet is warm, and allows you to use less of it. Now, press the pemmican into a tin using a spoon. Let it cool in the fridge, than turn it out and cut into bars the size of candy bars.
Pemmican Vegan recipe
- 2 cups dates
- 4 cups powdered tofu-jerky
- 2 cups raisins
- Honey (add as much as needed since it’s your binding agent)
- 2 cups unsalted peanuts
Grind all the ingredients 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 blend and in cold climates, honey can be replaced with suet and processed just as in pemmican recipes seen above.
Tips for making good pemmican
Here are some tips you should try, to improve your skills and make proper pemmican:
- Get the suet from your local butcher as it might have the healthiest choices in terms of organic meats. You may be able to acquire the suet for free in certain places or at least you should get a discount, depending on the quantity of meat you’ve bought.
- Remove all visible fat from the meat using a long sharp knife
- When melting the suet, be careful not to burn it or make it smoke.
- Use a good meat grinder and double grind the meat to make sure meat fibers are gone.
- If the climate in which you are going to use the pemmican is warmer, you will need less fat for your recipes. If on the contrary, the climate is colder, you will need more fat for your pemmican recipes.
- Use a good blender to break the dried fruits into small pieces
- If you add honey to the recipe, try to get raw honey as it is the best for food preservation (honey is also a good survival food).
- Use wax or cheesecloth dipped in suet to wrap your pemmican and store it in a dark cool place
Lastly, remember to experiment with your own pemmican recipes, and keep in mind these three key points: melt the suet properly, use lean organic meat (from trusted sources) and make sure the meat and fruits you put in the recipes are very dry.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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