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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 22 2009

How to Make Pemmican

By Mark Sisson
213 Comments

Vihljamur Stefansson, eminent anthropologist and arctic explorer, went on three expeditions into the Alaskan tundra during the first quarter of the 20th century. His discoveries – including the “blond” Inuit and previously uncharted Arctic lands – brought him renown on the world stage. People were fascinated by his approach to travel and exploration, the way he thrust himself fully into the native Inuit cultures he encountered. Stefansson studied their language, adopted their ways, and ate the same food they ate. In fact, it was the diet of the Inuit – fish, marine mammals, and other animals, with almost no vegetables or carbohydrates – that most intrigued him. He noted that, though their diet would be considered nutritionally bereft by most “experts” (hey, nothing’s changed in a hundred years!), the Inuit seemed to be in excellent health, with strong teeth, bones, and muscles. He was particularly interested in a food called pemmican.

Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat (usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common then) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat (usually beef tallow). Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength (and glucose, when needed). The Inuit, Stefansson noted, spent weeks away from camp with nothing but pemmican to eat and snow to drink to no ill effect. Stefansson, a Canadian of Icelandic origin, often accompanied them on these treks and also lived off of pemmican quite happily, so its sustaining powers weren’t due to some specific genetic adaptation unique to the Inuit. In fact, when Stefansson returned home, he and colleague adopted a meat-only diet for a year, interested in its long-term effects. A controlled examination of their experience confirmed that both men remained healthy throughout.

So, pemmican has a reputation as a sort of superfood. While I’m usually leery of such claims, the fact that the stuff is essentially pure fat and protein (plus Stefansson’s accounts) made me think that maybe there was something to it. I set out to make my own batch.

I got about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast, let it firm up in the freezer, then sliced it thin. After adding liberal amounts of salt and pepper, I set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and laid out the strips of meat directly onto the rack. I cracked the oven door to prevent moisture buildup. At this point, I also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

I let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it was crispy jerky that broke apart easily. I tossed the jerky in the food processor until it was powder. After the meat, in went the blueberries to process. Again, you want a powder.

Now I was ready to render some fat. I used grass-fed bison kidney fat, which was already diced into tiny pieces. I put about half a pound of that into a cast iron pan and cooked it slowly over super-low heat.

I made sure to stir the fat as it rendered out, and watched closely so that it wouldn’t burn. When the fat stops bubbling, the rendering is done.

Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder.

I think I poured too much too quickly, so I added a bit of almond meal to firm it up. Let it firm up, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball. I went with a ball.

Pemmican will keep almost forever. Pure, dried protein and rendered (mostly saturated) fat are highly stable, so I wouldn’t worry about it going rancid. If it does, you’ll know.

Now, my pemmican wasn’t exactly delicious. In fact, it tasted a bit like bland dog food. Maybe I’ll jazz it up next time with some more salt and spices, but I don’t think pemmican is meant to be eaten for pleasure. This is utilitarian food, perfect for long treks through the wilderness. It gets the job done, and I’ll probably make it again. It definitely doesn’t taste bad; in fact, the taste grows on you after awhile.

My dog certainly enjoyed cleaning up the bowl.

Has anyone else here tried pemmican? Let me know what you think in the comment board!

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213 thoughts on “How to Make Pemmican”

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  1. Unless I was anticipating a survival situation I don’t think I would make this. Seems like a lot of time and effort involved for something that isn’t that tasty.

    It is an interesting article, though.

      1. One way you can anticipate a survival situation is by focusing on global economic trends, some say there will be a collapse of the United States very soon that the govt. is preparing for by building detention centers across the nation. Might be a great time to start making excess pemmican now. I can easily see this economy getting progressively worse as our jobs have been sent oversees and the huge national debt to GDP our country is is.
        Prepare for hyper inflation.

        Just my two cents.
        Take care & stay close to your faith.

        -Brian

          1. They made fun of Noah building the ark for years too…be careful “jack” or you may wind up the “ass”

          1. That’s why I’m. On this site Ruby. Going to make some hard tack as well and store in airtight containers.

        1. Brian, you’re actually interested in facts and the study of economics and history. Most other people are only interested in insults and ad hominem.

        2. Brian, you sir are exactly correct. They person who called you a J.A. has their head under their armpit, or somewhere else. The danger signs are all around us and flashing. As quoted from the movie Under Siege – Dark Territory….”Chance favors the prepared mind”.

          Take care

          1. You’re quoting a Seagal sound byte as evidence of an impending fiscal crisis? You must be a Democrat! That was one of his worst films!

          2. Lets not bring politics into this. Otherwise this discussion will get real messy.

        3. Brian,
          As Usual, I’m late to the game…
          Your are absolutely correct! Hyperinflation is knocking on our back door soon to barge through the front.

          God Bless!

        4. I didn’t expect my comment to stir so many opinions. I’m sorry if I upset anyone, truly. Matt said it best, nothing lasts forever. One day America’s credit will run dry and the world will see the dollar for what it is, a piece of paper backed by nothing.

          National debt has exceeded $15 trillion dollars, that’s around $50,000 per citizen’s share of the debt.

          Russia’s military budget for 2013, about $100 billion.
          China’s military budget for 2013, about $150 billion.
          UK & Japan’s military budget for 2013, about $120 billion combined

          USA’s military budget for 2013, over $675 billion!

          The countries I listed, are the world’s top 5 military spenders.
          (Based on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

          Speech made in 1961, concerning the growing threat of our militarily-industrial complex.

          “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”
          – Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, was a Five-star General
          .
          50 years later, we see how real the threat has become.

          “The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries. In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide. These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of 30 million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of 737 bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of 2,202,735 hectares, which makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners worldwide (Gelman, J., 2007)”
          – Dr Gideon Polya

          Don’t worry Russia and China, once and some consider still communists nations will be the new light for the world. It’s hard to see that now, but your children will know it.

          My advice.
          – Teach your kids Mandarin, the Chinese language. Many opportunities will be opened for them.
          – Invest in real commodities, especially farming and agriculture. The world is going to need more food as nations grow, and China’s 1.3 billion citizens demand a greater variety of it.
          – If you don’t agree with your home nation’s ideologies, simply get out. Sometimes the best response in a fight is to just walk away. There are other countries in the world with more economic freedom, and similar civil liberties. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way to defend whats already lost.

          My best advice, think for yourself. You are inherently responsible for your own well being and those you care for.

          God Bless!

          P.S. The name of the whole game is demoralization. When a country’s citizens loses its morals, it loses its roots. The first step in every Communist agenda is to subvert a nation of its moral principles. America’s already past that step, the next step is crisis. Prepare yourself if you decide to stay, but never, ever sacrifice your values, its our most valuable possession.

          1. Never apilogize for being correct and definately when dealing with mindless troglodites.

            Being offended is a choice. The idiots seem to have no choice.

          2. Who are you to judge? Next time proofread your “mindless criticism.” In your haste to prove your stupidity, you misspelled “apologize, definitely and troglodyte! Congratulations! A trifecta!

          3. Considering the multiple misspellings and grammatical errors in your response, I’d venture to say with confidence that you are quite a bit more of an idiot than the people who called Brian out for being completely and utterly incorrect. An uneducated opinion is just that – opinion. Both his original comment and updated comment had zero bases in fact and were the fear-based response of those lacking intellect. As evidenced by the fact that the United States did not collapse and in comparison to the current state of affairs caused by a willfully incompetent and narcissistic leader, I think it’s high time for people like you to just find some duct tape and shut your mouths. The only reason this country will implode is due to the racist, sexist, bigoted examples being set for the lowly general population like yourselves.

          4. My advice is to read the bible and you will see we are in the end of times. Daniel 7 vs. 21-25 and Revelation 13 vs 7 and on down. Then start making Pimmikin before it’s too late, and too late is after the Election. Good Luck, hopefully you won’t drink anymore Obama KoolAide or listen to his Strawberry Fields and Rainbows speeches. Satan was a Master at lies and Manipulation. All in the bible, written thousands of years ago, but everything happening in the world and in our country now, is right there for you to see, if you will read it. God Bless.

          5. People have been saying the end was near for hundreds of years…find something else

          6. It’s “Pemmican” and “End Of Days!” An obvious theologian such as yourself would know that! Michael is right! Every time something significant happens, Bible-thumpers come out of the woodwork as self-appointed messengers of God! Riddle me this, why wasn’t the all-knowing aware that those building the tower of Babyl would simply run out of oxygen once they reached a certain altitude so there was no reason to scramble their languages? Let’s try an easier one. How about the dinosaurs? Why is there no mention of these demonic monsters that we now know, definitively, ruled this planet for over 140 million years? (Take the time to properly digest that…OVER 140 MILLION YEARS! — 140 MILLION!”) Could it be that the first dinosaur bones were only discovered in the late 1940’s so the PROVEN THREE KNOWN AUTHORS of the good book “a copy of the Pagan works before it, by the way,” never knew they existed? Why don’t YOU read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?” It’s just as ridiculous, but way more entertaining!”

        5. Brian,
          I am with you! As for you nosayers, either you are stupid or an Obama cronie. Either way, I believe you can look around and see what is happening. I see that both parties are participating in the lies. We can vote out all incumbents if we have time. All are drinking the Obama koolaide. We are in trouble, we don’t have the money, they have stolen from Social Security and that is going down, they borrowed from China and we have massive debt which we cannot even meet the interest. We are on the verge of a new horizon. Wake up America.

        6. So you tried explaining yourself and somehow proved yourself even dumber than the original post -_-

        7. Brian, you said be ready for hyperinflation nearly five years ago, and it still hasn’t happened.

          Anyone can make any statement , and if it happens claim “I was right”, if it doesn’t “It hasn’t happened yet” -I see it all the time i conspiracy forums.

          People read your kind of comments and the delusional paranoid ones think that you really have something to say, or have special access to privileged information, again something that is the foundation of the whole conspiracy ‘industry’, but, sadly, you haven’t, if the guys working chaos theory or advanced economics have no clue what the future is, an anonymous guy on the internet is even more clueless…unless, they are lucky of course…does anyone base their future on luck?

          I tend to agree with Razrbac, when do you know there is going to be a survival situation, none of us do, I am old enough now to have lived through enough gloom and doom, enough ‘prophets’ telling my world or THE world is going to end…the world is still here, so am I. The end could come any time, from pandemic disease, from asteroid strike, super-volcanic eruption, no one knows, and anyone who says they do are a liar or delusional.

          All we can do is try and prepare, have your bug-out-bag, have your stores and plan(S), but a years supply of fried food and potable water back at home is no use to me if I am stranded at some country thousands’ of miles away, or even just a few miles away if it has been effected by such a calamity.

          Also, the circumstance of our survival, could mean instantaneous death was a better option any way…

          Stop predicting the end-of-the-world, I’ve heard it all before…

        8. Here is is 5 years and 10 months later on election day (Trump/Clinton) and this country is in MUCH worse shape than 5 years and 10 months ago!!! Yes…I’m stocking up on water and emergency foods I purchase BUT I am going to make this too.

      2. Better start making it now, this Election year is a survival scenario

    1. Where did the Inuit get salt and pepper? I know they had the ocean but did they make use of its salt? I’m thinking your pemmican has an unhealthy sodium component. Love your experiment, tho.

      1. The Inuit didn’t have much salt in their diet. They ate mostly fish. Acquiring salt from the ocean is not easy, since there are many other undesirable minerals in ocean water other than salt. If you boil salt water, you are not left with white salt, rather, a bitter tasting brownish grit.

        1. Really ? Is that from personal experience ? Do you live in an industrial area or near a river mouth I’ve used salt crust from rock pools around York Peninsula in South Australia for seasoning a couple of times and from memory it was delicious, white and tasted better than normal salt. I’ll grant you that it wasn’t from boiling but naturally evaporated from sea spray, but I’d imagine that similar sources of naturally evaporated salt would be available to most coastal peoples, even ones living in sub-arctic conditions.

          John

        2. False, the Inuit had ample amounts of salt in their diet via the older sea ice they consumed for water (the ice loses salt with age), therefore having the perfect amount of salt required for the ketogenic diet they were eating. I’d recommend basing your statements on fact, rather than conjecture. For starters, you could read some Dr. Phinney and Volek, who are experts in the field. And you must be joking about unrefined sea salt being unfavorable. I almost had to LOL.

  2. want to try making it but am having trouble finding a good beef fat. could it work with coconut oil?

    1. Yes, with coconut oil.I like to add cayenne pepper and chocolate and cinnamon. Less than 5% and 2 tspns of cinnamon. Cayenne to taste.

    2. If you make pemmican w/coconut oil it won’t keep well out of the fridge where the coc oil will melt quickly.Saturated animal fat keeps the pemmican harder longer.

      I have pressed pemmican into muffin tins. I think it helps to be very sparing adding the fat and to use a measure amount of sea salt, to add dried herbs and spices too. Too much fat can give it a very strong taste. I have recipes with suggested ratios in my book, The Garden of Eating.

      1. i’m not sure on that one. i’ve kept gallon containers of coconut oil in my room for years and years after opening them – room goes through all the temp fluctuations of the seasons, no problem with rancidity.

        assuming one would make this only if going into cold climates the coconut oil would certainly stay hard, though the taste would probably be a little interesting – jerky and coconut(?)

        1. Although the coconut oil will not go rancid easily, the question here is temperature and melting. At around 80 degrees coconut oil begins to soften and liquify. Tallow would probably be better in this recipe for that reason.

          Also, expeller-pressed coconut oil does not smell or taste of coconut as virgin does, so this shouldn’t affect flavor of the pemmican in that respect.

        1. I used a blender, it didn’t make powder but it worked pretty good and for a binder I used peanut butter in sted of animal fat. Used sea salt,cran berry’s, pine nuts, almonds,blackberry’s, strawberry’s,

    1. REAL Pemmican and jerky are illegal to sell in the USA. The FDA requires that all meat sold in the country be at least partially cooked, to a temp above 160 degrees.

      Real jerky is simply dried in the sun, or in a dehydrator. If you have jerky that has simply been dried, and not cooked, it’s illegal to sell.

  3. I remember learning about pemmican in grade school social studies class. It seems a lot more appealing now then in did back then… 😉

    I think I’ll give this a try next fall or winter. Seems more appropriate to those seasons.

    Thanks Mark!

    Adam

    1. what’s great about pemmican is that it makes an easy portable meal wrapped in lettuce leaves and served w/an apple or grapes. The portablity factor was likely the reason it was invented and used by native people.

      1. Great idea wrapping in lettuce leaves. I take pemmican hiking, but it can be undesirable to handle when without a means to wash your hands nearby due to the grease. Wrapping it in a lettuce leaf, maybe even raw kale, is a great idea to make it less messy. thx!

      2. I stumbled across this link through pint rest. Began reading comments and yours was the one that pointed out the purpose of the grossly non-aesthetic recipe. I don’t follow the conversations as they tend to get off point. Your input was helpful(to me).

        1. You could also maybe season the pemmican with a touch of honey when wrapping.

      3. Hi Rachel question for you. Can you use fresh pastured pork fat for the rendered fat?

  4. i agree with jpippenger – not sure i’ll ever make this. BUT the take home message is a good one! Protein and fat = super healthy! Good thing I had my eggs this morning 😉

  5. It always sounded interesting when they told us about this social studies (I’m Canadian). I think we should figure out how to make a tasty version between all the cooks on the board 🙂

    1. I’ve made it with peanut butter as the fat, and dried blueberries. Quite good. Yes you do need salt.

        1. Some other vegetable or nut fat, then. But it may be more sensitive to rancidity if kept for a long time.

  6. This seems like a great food for a long hike–it’s difficult to find high energy foods that are worth their weight. Around what temperature will something like this melt?

  7. Mark, maybe you could look into packaging a producing pemmican. That way those that are curious, but not to keen on putting in 16 or so hours to make it can just order a package of it.

    1. Possibly, but I’d really have to work on the taste (not that it tastes bad! Just plenty of room for improvement).

      1. I have a great tasting pemmican recipe. 3lb top round roast. Partially freeze and slice very thin. Dehydrate in oven at lowest setting or in a dehydrator until very dry. Cracks rather than bends. Dehydrate 1 cup blueberries. Put dried meat in a blender and turn to powder. Add blueberries toward the end to keep some larger peices for texture. (I added 2 tbls of sweet potato powder that I made by dehydrating just like the meat.) With dry ingredients in a bowl add about 2 tbls honey and rendered tallow until the consistancy of sticky dough. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap and roll out to desired thickness. Let cool to harden and cut to desired sizes. It really is delish! and high energy. Very easy to make and so easy to store and take on hikes or camping. You can eat as is or use for making stew type dishes.

        1. I learned of Pemmican in grade school in Michigan in the 1950’s. Our teacher said the Indians in the Great Lakes area made it with venison and corn by pressing the corn kernels into the meat and then letting narrow strips of it dry in the sun while hanging on lines set higher than carnivores could jump. Whether they cooked it at all, I don’t know, but I always thought so. It was carried in a pouch and eaten by the strip on the run during the many Indian wars both before and after the white man cometh – when time and distance meant life or death. Water was normally no an issue in Michigan, as we were taught that in our state, one is never farther than 6 miles from a stream. als

        2. I made my pemmican per these directions and it is AWESOME! The Boy Scout troop I hike with is interested in making this for their next 50-mile hike.

          Thanks!

  8. I received my copy of The Primal Blueprint today! I’m going to ask my husband to hide it until Sunday, otherwise I won’t get to anything I need to take care of today and tomorrow. I want to read this book NOW!!!!!

    Grok on!!!!

  9. I first read about this is Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”…while I see how this could be handy, I think I’ll stick to the primal power bars!

  10. I have made pemmican to utlize on hunting excursions, Ski trips, and epic mountain bike rides.

    I have made it as Mark has and I have also made a batch with pure Maine maple syrup from a producer around the corner. I have also made it with a garlic rub. Both of the last two recipes were much better than the initial bland rub, and in my estimation are still primal.

    As far as rendering fat goes, its not so bad. Render 6-7 lbs of fat at a time and that provides a wicked charge of tallow (fat) to be used for quite some time. You can freeze or can it for later use.

    Get it going on a cold morning, most of the labor is in chopping it up, but even that is marginal. Let is simmer throughout the day and process at the end of the day.

    Not as bad as you think. Give it a try!

    1. When you added the syrup, did you mix it in while you were adding the fat to the meat? And I guess the garlic rub was applied to the meat before drying it out?

  11. Like Adam, I remember learning about this stuff in school, and it pops up in books now and again. I always wanted to make some, but now that I know the actual process, I think I’ll just stick with jerky!

    But if I ever need to stockpile food in a bomb shelter, I’ll use this recipe for sure! 😉

  12. Wow. Looks different. I see this as more of a nuclear emergency type food or maybe add some spices for flavor.

  13. Dip it in chocolate, and you just might have something there.

  14. This would be great for people like me who are sometimes too lazy to cook… just make a load at once and dip in every once in awhile.

    For some reason the whole idea of homemade pemmican seems very appealing to me, even aside from the convenience. I must try this.

    1. Duck fat tastes great, but I don’t think it would make a good candidate for pemmican. Reason being, it is too soft when it cools. I’ve tried with pork lard which is more solid than duck fat and even that wasn’t solid enough. It would end up way too greasy. Beef tallow works good because when it cools it is hard.

  15. Hi Mark, I made my first batch of pemmican about a month ago. It was so good i’ve made 2 more! 🙂 No berries, and just a small amount of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Maybe the berries and almond flour altered the taste of yours? My husband who is super picky thought it was good and said “it tastes like roast beef”. I cooked my beef in a dehydrator @ 105 degrees F. maybe that is why also.

  16. I’ve wanted to make these for a long time! I read about it first in Nourishing Traditions and then got even more info about it from the Garden of Eating (which is a grain free, dairy free cookbook). I am definitely planning on trying ti sometime!

  17. Prefer jerky myself, but you had some flaws in your pemmican. 1) Dry your berries in the sun like raisins. If you can, dry your meat the same way. 2) Looks like you used way too much fat. 3) Add different spices! Salt is barely a spice, it is more a preservative. 4) Buy a dehydrator.

    I’ve often questioned how much nutrient value remains in dried meat. If you really want good cured/dried meats you let it hang in the air, you don’t use a dehydrator. This is how it was done 100 and 1000s of years ago, and how really good cured meat is still made today (i.e. Prosciutto made in the mountains of Italy).

  18. This recipe is awesome~ im going to make this soon!
    thank u so much for posting such great info.!

  19. Make biltong……far easier and will keep for years.

    I ate kudu biltong that was years old in Namibia.Slight bit o mould..scrapped it off and wallop..wonderful.

    Sadly also had the lad in INto the Wild known about this he might not have died due to malnourishment(some conjecture about him being/not being poisoned) as he sadly tried to smoke the beast he shot.

  20. “See them stripped and you do not find the abdominal protuberances and folds which are numerous at Coney Island beaches and so persuasive in arguments against nudism.”

    I fell down laughing. It’s certainly no better now.

  21. I actually tried making it twice in the past two weeks. Neither worked very well. I think I didn’t slice the meat thin enough. The outside would break easily, but there would be parts on the inside that I would have to tear apart. My food processor wouldn’t process it, and when I tried putting it in our old meat grinder, it jammed up. The grinder parts have been soaking in soapy water for three days because the parts that need to unscrew in order to clean it wouldn’t unscrew.

    I didn’t eat anything that was produced, but my dog did enjoyed it immensely! 🙂 At least, he devoured each failed batch within minutes. When I gave it to him, he ate it with his tail tucked between his legs. He normally eats with his tail down to keep it out of the way, but when he was eating this it was VERY straight and it was flat against his behind, and I could tell his mood was off, like he was sad or scared. I was taken aback by how extremely submissive he was. It was like he recognized it for what it was, like this was real dog food and the dog food we had been buying for years may as well have been starvation. If it were up to me, I would feed him nothing but beef and liver (another thing I know he likes) and none of the carbohydrate-laden, meat-flavored stuff again.

    1. You don’t have to give your poochie the crummy kind of dog food. My cat even eats primally. We buy our pet food from either Petsmart or PetCo, the brand is Blue Buffalo. They have a line of primal foods that are WAY better than the grainy filler-loaded stuff. My sister’s dogs love the stuff, as does my cat (she won’t touch the grainy stuff anymore…it made her puke anyway).

      I want to try making pemmican…don’t know what my husband will think though. He is still a hard core “whole grain-er.” My daughter will love it–she is a total meat-a-tarian like me 🙂

    2. Awww! This story really affected me. The idea that your dog’s behavior was so dramatically different when presented with real dog food. 🙁

  22. I have a few suggestions for making pemmican. Make a big batch of jerky and pemmican so you don’t have to make it as often. Bear in mind that 2 pounds of meat will make only about 8 oz (by weight) of jerky (1 quart before powdering).I find a food dehydrator with multiple trays makes it easy to prepare a large batch of jerky.

    Add only enough rendered fat to make the meat stick together. Adding too much fat can alter the flavor, making it taste too strong.

    In the Pemmican recipes in my book, *The Garden of Eating*,I figure 1 1/2 cups of liquid tallow to 4 1/2 cups of powdered jerky.

    I add herbs, spices, and sea salt to enhance the flavor of pemmican and I press it into muffin tins, which firm up after chilling so you can pop out a meal size round of pemmican, wrap it in lettuces leaves, tuck it into a container and take your hand held-meal with you, supplemented with an apple or a couple of handfuls of grapes.

    You can spice up pemmican w/Mexican, Moroccan, Italian, French, or Greek seasonings. I’ve even added sun dried tomatoes and dried bell pepper bits. Some find it an acquired tastes; others take to it right away.

    I have taken this on airplanes and car trips. It makes great, compact travel food you can eat w/your hands.

  23. That looks quite awesome, Mark,what’s your opinion on the advanced glycation end products that form as a result of this? Of course there are worse things you can do, but it doesn’t seem entirely healthy.

  24. What if you added some cayenne or texmex powders when you blended the meat? or perhaps mixing brown sugar into the rendered fat?

  25. I would like sources for buying beef jerky on the web. I’ve been getting it from Costco (Pacific Gold), but I suspect there are healthier versions. Any suggestions would be appreciated, as I’m NOT going to be making my own.

  26. I don’t know what you guys are talking about. I made pemmican and threw in dried blueberries, a bit of cinnamon.

    The only thing is that I used clarified butter instead of tallow or suet. Clarified butter has a great taste

  27. I just made a batch from the “Nourishing Traditions” recipe. 3lbs lean beef, 1 pound fat (leftover from beef stock preparation), and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Absolutely delicious. You will want to do some hard work after you eat it. It is GREAT warmed up. You could even make it a great base for some hash.

  28. I had made my own years ago. While my methods varied slightly (as did my fruit additives), it always turned out well. I used to publish the recipe on my website but had removed it to redo the website.

    Mine tasted great – however it took much time to prepare and “babysit” the drying meat.

  29. Totally making some of this up for the West Coast Trail trip this August!

  30. They make something like Pemmican in the Middle East. They call it Qawerma. It’s made with lean meat (beef or lamb) that is boiled for a really long time in salt, pepper, and allspice. After cooking it until it comes apart into shreds, you drain it and then cook it again with a lot (and I mean A LOT) of clarified butter. This was made when meat was plentiful and kept in cold storage (in vats that were sealed with fat) for winter consumption. I wonder if the origin of salamis and other sausages are in Pemmican-like preserved meats. Sopressata is easily 1:1 meat to fat. I’m making some Qawerma as I write this.

  31. Hmmm I’m definitely going to try this with kangaroo. sounds delicious, thanks for the discussion.

  32. Mark, I wonder if it might work better to make it more like a confit; cook the meat in the fat in the oven at about 150-180 degrees for several hours. The water will be cooked out this way. The French make duck and pork confit this way, and this was a traditional way to preserve the meat. Usually they add spices like cinnamon and clove. This strikes me as potentially more delicious. I’m gonna have to try it to find out for sure…

    1. I have a beautiful chicken confit in the freezer waiting for a sort of cassoulet later. But that means I have a scary amount of leftover duck fat infused with chicken fat, rosemary, and garlic. You can only eat so many green beans. Chicken and duck flavors go well with pork. Hmm, I can see a possible rustic Old World sausage type thing going on with this.

  33. I’ve made pemmican a few times (and then subsequently lived off what I made for the next few days) and each time I made it I also ground up macadamia nuts and some type of dried berries. It doesn’t take many berries/nuts to add a LOT of flavor and cohesion to the bar, so you don’t need to worry about it having too much sugar. I salted the meat as well and added some cayenne pepper. The sweet/salty/spicy blend was amazing. The first batch I made was gone in two nights because my friends ate it all.

  34. I live and work in Fiji where a carb-heavy diet is the norm. Though I have access to fresh fish and some greens in my diet, a lot of my meal options are based around fried cassava or dalo (carb heavy root vegetables) and Chinese imported, low quality white rice. Reason being I live on a remote island with no markets or shops available. Any suggestions on an exercise routine that caters for a heavy carb’ thogh natural diet? I don;t want to go chrocin cardio if I can help it. Pemmican sounds a winner, I’ll look for a butcher on the mainland to make some for me I think!

  35. I make a cross between pemmican and jerky for my boys. I use grass-fed ground beef (with added ground liver and heart), mix it with pureed onion, prune and a few spices dry it for 2 days at 100 degrees (so it’s still raw). I tried blending this up so I could mix it with fat I’d rendered (in a crock pot – much easier to get a pale unbrowned fat) – but my food processor couldn’t handle it. So I make it in sheets, cut it up, slather with fat and make “pemmican sandwiches”. This is their favorite car snack, and I always carry some in my purse now as emergency food. One note – I find that rendered fat from grass-fed animals does go rancid after a month – probably because grass-fed animals have more mono-unsats in their fat. I make huge batches, break it into smaller batches and store them in the freezer.

  36. Chinese meat floss and Malaysian serunding are primarily dehydrated meat with fat and spices. Very tasty, like meat stew, but in a fine, shredded form.

  37. Basically your process looks good.

    Iadd the following for flavor and carbohydrate enhancement.
    1 lb lean mean, i use hamburger for ease of use.
    ¼ tsp pepper
    1 tsp lemon juice
    1tsp salt
    1tsp honey
    1 tsp broun sugar
    1 tbsp liq smoke or soy sauce
    a friend of mine likes to soak the meat in Red wine over night in the fridge before proceesing

    this will taste better than yours and adding the carbo’s helps some.

  38. Hi Everyone!
    After being utterly fascinated by the research conducted by a true pioneer, Weston A. Price, I embarked on the journey of consuming pemmican and haven’t been let down since.

    It’s only been three weeks and I’m beginning to change from a 21 year old boy into a 21 year old man. It appears my hormone levels have spiked and my sugar cravings have drastically reduced. Overall my attitude has changed for the better, no longer irritable, anxious, or worrisome, my attitude is now calm, assertive and best of all happy. It is no surprise to me how our Native American ancestors and Eskimos endured such harsh conditions. As far as liquid is concerned, I began consuming mineral rich bone broths from organic beef bones and vegetables. Another significant improvement in my health was achieved. I feel very blessed to say the least.

    I’m also taking 1-2 teaspoons a day of cod liver oil.

    Mark I’m glad to see your diet has given you the drive to build this website and write a great book on the topic. Our bodies are truly ancient.

    The key when making pemmican is to dry the meat around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and render the fat at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit until all moisture has evaporated. The ability to store pemmican for over a year without refrigeration is truly amazing.

    God bless everyone looking to make a difference in their lives!

    Brian Cote

  39. I just made a batch of venison pemmican with cranberries. Yummmmmm.

    I left the berries whole instead of blending them in just for texture and I added salt, garlic and cayenne pepper.

    Oh yes, the secret ingredient. Bacon drippings. I’m not sure if this is as rot-proof as pure rendered fat but it won’t matter because this stuff is too yummy to last that long.

  40. Just came upon your web site. Thanks for all the good information. I was just wondering if you could use freeze dried meat for the pemmican? I have a #10 can of freeze dried ground beef in my emergency stores and it seems plausible. Anybody try it?

  41. i have used your recipes and then did a couple modifications.. i put in several servings of Benifiber in as well as blueberries and my own dried peas..although peas are very hard to powder, the jerky turned out very good. i then vacuum pack it and toss it in the freezer to be ther whenever i get hte hungries for it.

  42. My husband and I both being engineers, we never do anything unless we can over-engineer it. So we converted an old washing machine case into a dehydrator, using metal dowels to hang the meat from, using heating elements from an old toaster oven (with switches to turn them on and off, for controlling the temperature), some ducting to force fresh air into the case, and a vent pipe at the top. A 1.75 HP meat grinder from Cabela’s, along with a jerky slicer to fit onto it, help with the slicing. An alternate top for the dehydrator consists of ozone generators, and UV lights, to ensure that the surface of the meat is thoroughly sanitized prior to dehydration. I can process up to 25 pounds of fresh meat in my dehydrator, which yields about 7.5 pounds of jerky. The 1.75 HP meat grinder is then used to grind up the jerky (and does a beautiful job), and some beef tallow from Wellness Meats is used to create the pemmican. The jerky comes out very brown, and the pemmican looks like chunks of dark chocolate. I only add a little salt and fresh-ground pepper to my jerky and pemmican, being a bit of a purist. I deviate from the usual recipe for pemmican, by using 1/3 fat and 2/3 ground jerky.

  43. Wish I’d known about this stuff when I was in the marines. This stuff would have been awesome for a 20 mile hump.

  44. I’m making a batch right now, and so far so good. I have the meat dried and ground up and the fat rendered, just waiting on the fruit. One thing I did was marinate the meat before drying. It gave the meat great flavor, and I’ve used less fat.

  45. So I was just sitting around and realizing that I’ve gone paleo and have no idea what I’m supposed to eat when I go backpacking this summer!

    Lo and behold I come across this post.

    Gonna make try making pemmican, biltong and jerky ASAP. Thanks for the ideas everybody!

  46. Hey guys, I’m a type 1 diabetic and I’ve recently made the switch to a primal lifestyle. Does anyone know how I would gauge my insulin for this? Especially if I was camping?
    Thanks

  47. While living along the Canadian border in the Northwest, I have made and eaten pemmican on numerous occasions. The secret to making it tasty is to include a generous portion of fruit. Native berries or dried purchased fruits. Apricots,apple, etc, all cut into small pieces. I added no salt, but used salt to season a portion upon consumption. You can coat the pemmican in flour and fry it like scrapple or make a soup with it. Is it as tasty as a home kitchen meal? no, but in moving from place to place in the North woods via canoe and backpack, it aint bad…Take a kid camping in the woods..Blessings to you all.

  48. fyi….biltong is NEVER traditionally smoked..never ever ever and one makes perfectly wonderful biltong by just drying in a slightly dry room with it hanging from paperclips and having had it marinade in coriander s and p and a few tabs of vinegar.
    Do people just make stuff up ?? Don’t ask but do read Shermers wonderful The Believing Brain !

  49. I love this recipe. well balanced and accessible.
    I’ve made versions of pemmican before and have even subsided on it for an entire month once! Although the blueberries are not completely traditional (depending on the trbal recipe and season of preparation). I find the inclusion of berries takes off a “primal edge” temperment that tends to develop after long periods on the stuff. this is probably due to the fiber, antioxidants and chloragenic acid that help the system function more smoothly.

  50. If anyone wants a short cut oriental markets sell dried shredded meat inexpensively in the pantry section. It is usually pork, a product of Taiwan where they traditionally eat it with rice. It is pretty good stuff.

  51. I rendered some nice black bear fat this fall, has anyone used bear fat to make pemmican? Shure works good on boots and saddles.

  52. as a young person( a very long time ago )i read of a type of pemmican made by pounding a large slice of fresh meat ( THE MORE FAT THE BETTER) thin and then using fresh berries etc spread on top next fold over pound thin again continue et al until you have a flat dry slab .
    the berry juice acts as a preservative/ chemical agent ,reportedly tastes pretty good and lasts quite a while.
    remember the old ones did not have electric grinders but they really liked there food

  53. Mark

    Please to allow this lowly one to correct your history. Pemmican was NOT an Inuit invention. It was in fact an invention of the plains Indians, by which they developed an efficient way of converting excess buffalo hunted during prosperous years against lean times later. A food that would last damn near forever if properly prepared and stored.

    It became a staple of the Fur Trade, from sometime in the eighteenth-century onwards. The canoe brigades of the Canadian North West Fur Company (the legendary “voyageurs”) had to travel immense distances during the short Spring and Summer season between breakup and freezeup, from their Montreal headquarters out to distant trading posts scattered across the vast river networks of the North. Racing against the return of Winter, they endured a strenuous routine of backbreaking paddling and portaging, with no time left for hunting or elaborate cooking. They needed a compact, nutritious ration that left as much space as possible in their craft for their loads of trade goods going out and beaver pelts coming back.

    The early Victorian British Arctic explorers–in their overland expeditions–hired fur traders as their guides and assistants. It was from them that they learned of pemmican and adopted it as their standard sledging ration. THIS was how pemmican became indelibly associated with Polar exploits and used by all who traveled into the icy realms (and many other places besides).

    The one universal quality of pemmican is the uncomplimentary references to it. From Ye Olde times to the present, every explorer who has relied upon it has felt called upon to strain his literary creative powers to the utmost in making uncomplimentary references to its taste and consistency. In his book of his 1986 trans-arctic expedition Will Steger described it as resembling wet concrete and that it gave him alternately the runs and constipation.

    Evidently, the grass-fed part of the equation is extremely important here.

    Many of the more conscientious explorers took great pains to make their pemmican more palatable. Roald Amundsen added such things as rolled oats, honey and spices along with the berries. Ernest Shackleton added pea flour and spices. Admiral Peary preferred his straight.

    In his work, Vilhjalmur Stefansson said that this was all well-and-good but that such delectables should be packed separately, as extras, to be jettisoned in an emergency. He was even against the addition of salt, saying that pemmican was just as good a food in a pinch for sled dogs, but that dogs are much less tolerant of salt in their diet than humans.

    So there you have it. It looks like pemmican is highly versatile, in that you can heat it up and add just about anything to it to make it palatable or you can just nibble it cold.

  54. What’s this? A recipe of my favorite food!

    Bland? Nu uh…
    Not at all for me. I order mine from grasslandbeef.com and it is delicious, 1 entire bar with only 4 carbs!
    They use cherries and raw honey, instead of berries.

  55. Well the only input I have is from the backwoods. My family makes pemmican and dry meat every year. Usually it includes meat from the latest hunting trip. My mother seems to be a master st makng it taste good. She utilizes ground deer or bison, the fresher the better. Adds pepper and salt as if she were seasoning burgers. You let those spices soak in and in another bowl grind up some fresh or frozen berries. Add them to the meat with about a quarter cup of berry syrup (we use huckleberry ) let that sit for a bit. When your ready to dry it roll half inch balls, flatten them and put them on a dehydrator rack for 12 hours. The fat is already in the ground meat and the syrup really adds flavor. It keeps well and packs easily for powwows and such.

  56. I am interested in making Brick Chili which origionated with the Mexican and Indian women known a Chili Queens in Texas. They were familiar with Jerkey and Pemican, so it was a logical step to add dried chili, tomatoes, maza or cooked dried bean powder to the mixture and come up with bricks of material which would keep and be reconstituted into the basics of chili and chili beans. If you have ever come across a recipe for brick chili I would like to have a copy.
    Ernie H

  57. mark, i saw somebody recommend peanut butter for the fat. could that idea be tweeked wit almond butter or macadamia butter (my favorite)? as that sounds like it might bring more to the table in the taste department… just thinking!

  58. Now I may be mistaken. Isn’t rending tallow basically getting liquid fat?
    If so, go to the grocery store and back with the meats and such are the containers of ‘(snow) Lard) that a lot of folks like to cook with. I am thinking mainly of Hispanic cooking, that and Southern cooking.
    Correct me if I am wrong and I will have learned something new.
    Rending seems to be labor intensive and I seem to look for ways to make it easier and quicker.
    Also instead of a dehydrater, cut the meat about 1/16 th of an inch thick. (Meat cutter). Then smoke the meat with your favorite wood and seasoning. Being that thin it will get crisp,(keep an eye on it), and it will have been flavored. I can smoke up several pounds in a couple of hours. You can cut up some of the meat thicker to break up and eat as snack around the house,at work or play. What you do no use you can refrigerate for later, or share with friends.

  59. There are a lot of doom and gloom news articles and almost as many articles of the coming fabulous prosperity that will overtake the world. Who Knows and frankly Who Cares? Simple fact of the matter is there are many stories every year of people stranded for days in the snow, lost while hiking, falling over a cliff and surviving on a ledge for days and so on and so on. It would seem prudent that if ever you hike, climb, travel in semiremote areas or just on long road trips, it would be wise to have survival gear and include stable long lasting food stuffs even if not too tasty. I have done so for many years and on a couple of occasions have actually had to use them during my six decades of life.

  60. Had a Lewis and Clark themed dinner last night with buffalo steak, berries and what I had thought (from distant memories of explorer accounts) was pemmican. Used honey instead of rendered fat, and added quite a bit of flour, cooking in cupcake tins as above. Not bad; the flour makes it (after baking) the consistency of cured epoxy. Keeps your teeth strong!

  61. Mark,

    Congrats on what is always a fantastic resource and pleasure to read.

    I recently wrote an article for my blog regarding ketogenic adaptation, military training and Arctic exploration as I am fascinated by the biochemistry involved.

    I recently read about Schwatka’s search for the Franklin expedition before Stefansson’s more famous forays into the Arctic, and he too was a big fan of the pemmican.

    I am in the British military and passed my commando course a few years ago now and earned my much-coveted green beret. The final challenge in test week being a 30-mile ‘yomp’ (run downhill, stride-out uphill sort of pace) over Dartmoor, caring equipment, in under 8 hours. I recall the overwhelming urge to consume sugar in the final stages and the pleasure of finally crossing that finish line!

    Having been ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’ for a year or so, I am going to re-run the 30 miles with only pemmican as a food source and water to drink. I’ll be posting the results on my blog. I don’t particularly enjoy these sorts of long runs, much preferring strength training now, but when serving in the military, especially commando forces, there is a big emphasis on the ability to cover a lot of ground, carrying equipment, and arriving ready to fight. I’m hoping that all the theory behind ketogenic adaptation plays out!

  62. I remember reading about pemmican while studying in school about the Native Americans, and I was intrigued about what it might taste like. I tried some yesterday, and I LOVED IT!!! (I was kind of surprised I would) I used bacon drippings for my hot fat–not a bad choice because I made a tiny amount, just to try it, so it was eaten quickly (not for storage). Does anybody know if bacon fat be used safely in pemmican you wanted to store long term, or would it go rancid? Not wanting to put on my food processor so early yesterday morning, I even ground the jerky using my mortal and pestle–I felt very primal indeed!

    1. Bacon fat would work if you properly rendered it. The key to pemmican storage life is to be sure there is no moisture whatsoever in the final product. You would have to boil the fat until no bubbles come out. At the point the temperature will also rise, as the moisture keeps it near the boiling point of water.

      Likewise you need to dry the meat very thoroughly.

      Now you could refrigerate it and the moisture need not be fully removed. But one of the advantages of pemmican is the ability to take it with you on trips.

      1. I strain and refrigerate my leftover bacon fat after cooking breakfast, to the point where I have a spaghetti sauce jar full of bacon fat. Do I need to do something else with this, or can I just scoop it out and use “as is” when I make pemmican?

  63. Put the pemmican into boiling water. Makes better stew. Leave out berry’s and its very low carb. I use BK seasoning mix instead of salt.

  64. Thanks for putting this recipe out there, and the facts that you found to go along with it. I have a very hard time finding REAL food, not stuff with so many preservatives in it my organs work overtime to feed me. I go to college full time and work second shift full time, so my stress level can be high since I also have family at home to manage with my wife. I am saving your website to visit when I can as I am sure you have more content to interest me further.

  65. I’ve made it before. Dried the lean beef to 1/4 the weight then added an equal weight of Kidney Suet, i.e. 4# raw Beef and 1# Suet for 2# Pemmican. I added some S&P, Pea Soup powder, Onion Soup powder and Dried Berries. Tasted pretty good. Have read this will keep for 40 years or more depending on how well it is made and stored. Dieticians killed it during WWII as too fatty but explorers and North American First Nations People have been using it for centuries to no ill effect. Couldn’t have got to the North or South Pole without it. The key is NOT to cook the meat but only DRY it. Must be very lean. Deer or Buffalo is best.

  66. Thanks for this simple How-To for making Pemmican. I’ve purchased Pemmican from US Wellness Meats. It’s absolutely delicious and very filling. I think this article is to help you get started but you have to treat it like any other recipe. I could see how it wouldn’t taste good if all you did was what’s in this article. I’m sure US Wellness meats first seasoned their jerky and then added what they have listed as ingredients for their Pemmican. I find their Pemmican to be very flavorful. I just bought their 5lb bucket of beef Tallow and I’d bought 1/4 of a pastured, grass-fed cow from Tendergrass Farms who were kind enough to send me cuts with me making beef jerky in mind and plan to make my own Pemmican soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’ll want to add my only blend of spices. 🙂 But I discovered for me personally if I ever let myself get too hungry, I’m unable to get past the initial hump of weaning off carbs. Every time I’ve fallen off the wagon it’s because I not eaten enough or gone too long without eating when I knew I was hungry early on. Time is an issue for me so now that I know about Pemmican I can make my own and have something portable I can eat when I’m hungry and not able to cook a full meal. The first time I tried Pemmican I was surprised at how one bar filled me up and kept me satisfied for hours and hours. 🙂

  67. People always say something bland or bad “tastes like dog food”. I’m still waiting for someone to actually tell me they’ve ate some.

  68. Saw recipe for bacon pemmican in the most recent Men’s Journal. Don’t know how long that kind would keep, but it sounded delicious. I made some with beef last weekend and was pretty impressed with the flavor. I used 7% fat ground beef, dried blueberries and cranberries, and rendered bacon fat. Some sea salt and black pepper in the final mix, pressed into muffin tins, and it was scrumptious! Ate 2 “meat muffins” as my wife calls them, the first day and was completely satiated for hours. My new snack staple!

  69. I have survived on self-made pemmican for up to four days of forced marching in mountainous terrain in the dead of the summer Mediterranean climate.

    The defining thing about Pemmican is that it’s the food which is a) whole, meaning you can survive on it indefinitely, and b) has the highest caloric density of the foods satisfying a).

    Taste is irrelevant. Imagine you are to pack for a long, exhausting trip into the wild. You need food which can sustain you and is as compact as possible. Pemmican is the optimal answer.

    BTW, my personal experience is that it doesn’t taste bad, and it is very satiating. To the point that you have to force yourself to eat, to avoid losing weight!

  70. I made my Pemmican with beef jerky, craisins, and oatmeal. Bacon fat was my fat source. Ground up the jerky, craisins, and some oatmeal, added the bacon fat, and more oatmeal until I was happy with the consistency. (and some whole craisins) Lined a baking sheet with parchment & froze. Excellent! I want to eat it regularly but know I can’t.

  71. We have made pemmican several times in my home, standard stuff for my Grandparents. The proportions are 3 parts meat, 2 parts berries, and enough fat to soak. Standing pools of fat are fine, but they do not win blue ribbons at County Fairs.

    I avoid using salt (it’s hygroscopic, as many spices are). And I avoid sugar (or any sugar-type substance) as it reduces shelf life greatly (to about 10% of what one should normally expect). If shelf life is not a factor, Great!

    Berries of any kind are fine, as long as they are dried well. They are not necessary, and are used for flavoring, as my grandmother told me. Also, matching meats to fats greatly improves storage life (beef fat to beef, deer fat to deer meat, etc)

    DO NOT use pork. It does not dry well (IMHO) and fails quickly. IF that’s all you have, and IF it’s short term only………. Yes, there will always be someone that has successfully used pork, but you won’t see us using pork!

  72. Thank you for the recepy, we just killed today grass-fed bull so I will try it in about 14 days…plus some other recepy from book Tender grass fed meat or Sally Fallon’ s Nourishing Traditions
    Thank you, it encouraged me.

  73. This is awesome, I’ve been looking for just this kind of receipe. Thank you.

  74. This is one of the more inteligent and productive web boards I have encountered. Maybe a primal diet makes people’s brains work better and be more reasonable and patient with others as well?

    I am not a “Primal Diet” person myself but I do understand well the concept and biochemistry of it.

  75. Salt is a tasty addition, but a detrimental factor for very long-term survival eating only pemmican. One example is that salt excretion in the kidneys leads to calcium depletion: more calcium will be excreted than you’ll gain from the food.

    If pemmican is only a part of your diet (as it would be for virtually everyone here) it’s no big deal. However, if you’re planning on living on only pemmican alone for an extended period of time, do not add salt.

  76. Pemmican without any fruit added was always considered the best form of iron rations. Addition of fruit greatly shortens the lifespan and does not allow the pemmican to “keep forever”.

    Natives added blueberries only to “wedding gift pemmican” for this reason. They sometimes added bitter type berries but even then only rarely.

    It wasnt until the pemmican trade that fruit additions became the “norm” as the voyageurs liked it better and they were the first target market.

    If you are making pemmican for survival rations and hoping it will last years the safe bet is to leave out all fruit, and keep it to a lean / fat ratio of 1:1

    1. In the northern fur trade fruitless pemmican was standard. Berry pemmican was rare, expensive and probably used by native people themselves rather than traded. Mentions of the two were made by the Earl of Southesk and Captain John Palliser. Both preferred berry pemmican but found it hard to come by in the fur trade country.

  77. I googled this site to learn more about pemmican. Just finished reading THE ICE MASTER – a book about a trek Stefansson started and then abandoned. Because Stefansson did not check the contents of the pemmican cans he took as supplies, many men in the party died due to kidney problems which occurred due to their diet of pemmican. Very good book.

  78. I want to clear up a few factual assertions. Obviously Pemmican is
    a mixture of what anybody wants to add for almost any reason.
    Some of the reasons are nutrition, longevity, taste, cost, historical
    accuracy, ease of making.

    Seemingly pemmican is the granola or casserole or stew ( all
    being mixtures of desirable ingredients ) of two requisite ingredients.
    dried meat and fat. ( nearly any kind of meat and any kind of oil
    as we have seen ).
    Some of the mistaken assertions have been that salt is good or bad.
    It depends. We all know for a thousand years salt has been a preservative agent… such as in cured hams etc. Too much salt is
    of course bad for our health when consumed such as in drinking
    seawater. Just a little bit to replace our electrolytes however is necessary. Sugar likewise has been spoken of improperly. Sugar
    can increase shelf life as in when fruit preservatives are made etc.
    Sugar however is a pure carb but hard to omit when in the form of
    berries or maple syrup or honey etc. because of the flavor enhancement. No one has mentioned that carbs are the only source
    for quick energy if needed as they can digest and spike blood sugar
    in just a few minutes whereas the human cannot turn fats into energy
    nearly so fast… may take hours etc.

    I’d like to comment here that some fats and oils go rancid faster than
    others and that is a topic for separate research and I would use whichever fat is best pending the outcome of research. One thing
    we all know however is that peanut butter never goes bad and I am
    inclined to think that peanut oil thusly has a good rancidity performance for our purposes here. The peanuts themselves
    while actually a legume I do not classify as an undesirable carb.

    I have in fact made my own “survival cookies” by mixing peanut
    butter with powdered jerky, various chopped nuts, and dried friut/
    raisens , eggs and protein powder. These cookies after baking
    and then 24 hours in the dehydrator subsequently and stored in plastic baggies kept well for 6 weeks of outdoor travel.

    I do not think they would last forever but only for so long as
    they could be kept absolutely dry.

    I do believe a pure oil/fat of some kind mixed with just powdered
    jerky might last a very very long time exposed to air ( without being
    kept in an airtight container ) …. maybe years because
    if the oils would not spoil, I think the food would have a hard time
    absorbing moisture from the air because the powderd meat would
    already be saturated with oils. It is the moisture that allows
    the microorganisms to grow and spoil the food whether it be
    fungus, or bacteria or yeast etc.

    separate point, many have talked about cooking their jerky and I have
    seen much commercial jerky sold that contains a lot of moisture,
    and I know that sooner or later this kind of jerky would mold and spoil.

    I have a gallon jar of beef jerky I made 15 years ago that is so try
    that it cracks like saltine crackers. The only way to store it for
    unlimited duration is to remove absolutely as much moisture as
    possible and keep it in an airtight container otherwise the jerky
    will act as sponge and take humidity out of the air if the air has
    a greater percentage of moisture than the jerky.

    To me the improvement with pemmican is that by supersaturating
    the dried meat with oils, you prevent the meat mixture from soaking
    up moisture from the air without having to store in an airtight container. Now we just have to make sure the oil
    used in making the pemmican does not go rancid.

    1. Rancid problem? Not for me. Add BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) to the oil and it will not go rancid for many years. One capsule (sold at health food stores or online) per quart of oil and your oil will stay good at room temperature for a long long time. Yes it is a chemical food preservative and one GREAT antiviral agent. For eighty years or so everyone was fine with it as a commercial food preservative. It absolutely works and hasn’t harmed me in many years of use.

  79. Historically, pemmican was a cooked food. Fur traders in what is now Canada would fry pemmican in its own fat. Once the meat was cooked (as pemmican is made with raw, dried meat) the traders would add water and other ingredients to made a type of stew. I make mine from bison and would not willingly eat the stuff in its solid state.

  80. I don’t know if anyone has posted this, but you can render any kind of animal fat in the crockpot. Just put the suet in there on low when you leave for work in the morning. When you come back, it should all be liquified. Then, you just filter it. It won’t burn on the low setting.

    Also, in response to those who’ve said that pemmican is messy to handle: I have a native american cookbook in which the author puts the finished pemmican inside sausage casings and smokes it. Although, I don’t think the smoking would be entirely necessary.

    1. A slow cooker would probably work if you leave the lid off. But rendering suet is more than liquifying it. You must also get 100% of the moisture out. The total lack of moisture is key to it keeping for a long time.

      After filtering it needs to be boiled again to get all moisture out.

  81. As a Canadian expat, I am so going it make this to (a) teach my son about First Nations traditions in Canada (b) prepare for this summer’s solo back packing / camping trip and (c) use up the beef tallow I have in the fridge. Thanks!!

  82. I recently purchased pemmican bars from the local Whole Foods store. These are real pemmican, not the half-granola bar stuff *some* folks call pemmican. The grass-fed beef, cranberry and bacon bar is quite good, if not a bit pricey.

    I’ll try your approach and see what I can cook up. Thanks for the article!

  83. My collaborators and I are headed to the High Arctic (Northern Ellesmere Island) this summer for some field research. I’ve been trying to get them to agree to bringing along some pemmican. I might make some and have them try it to see what they think. Thanks for the article and the recipe!

  84. I would like to see some authoritative reference to scientific data showing
    exactly which oils or fats last the longest before going rancid. What we have
    in this thread is a lot of non-experts either repeating old wives tales or telling
    stories of what ancients used because it is the only thing they had available
    to use. Today, most of have a choice as to what to use. We could use any
    kind of powdered protein including dehydrated eggs, milk or meat from any
    kind of animal or even fish and mix it with any kind of oil and flavored with
    any kinds of spices and fruit etc.
    Lets try to take advantage of modern knowledge and select the very best instead
    of following blindly the techniques of historical indigenious peoples.

  85. I realize this is years old but I wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. I will definitely make this since I am not only primal, but also keto. I learned my lesson recently when my neurological problems flared up after a too-high carb eating part of my life. Funny thing is, it was just rice, not wheat or anything, and it wasn’t even 100g/day. Some people like me are born to be wild I guess. Sad that my body had to tell me by taking me out of action for 3 days. Also sad that I didn’t listen the first time my body told me that, last year. Anyway, this recipe is exactly what I was looking for and your website popped up as one of the top hits for “pemican.” I simply am unable to eat any kind of “protein bar” because I can’t even tolerate 10g of carb in a meal. It’s a real hassle since I have a major fatigue problem and making a fresh meal 3 times a day is merely a pipe dream at this time. I always have to cook ahead and have portioned/prepared things ready or I just don’t eat. This recipe will really help.

  86. After reading through all the many suggestions for what fat to use and various additives, I have to say: I finally have something to do with all that delicious rendered duck fat in my fridge!!! Yey! Also I plan to use a tiny amount of LSA as a binder (per Sandra Cabot MD). I can’t tolerate any direct addition of carbs though. In theory the cranberries sound the best because all that fat is pretty bland and the sharpest taste will be the most obvious I think. I wonder if anyone’s thought of adding vitamin E for preservation? I’m all excited to try this, thanks!

  87. Can you use ghee or clarified butter in the place of rendered animal fat? I would imagine so, because like rendered animal fat, it’s essentially just pure saturated fat, but would it taste weird or be unpalatable?

  88. I found this article very interesting and did some more googling on Pemmican. According to the following document, http://www.traditionaltx.us/images/PEMMICAN.pdf, it is important to not heat lean meat above 120 degrees will compromise the nutritional value of the pemmican. Just providing more information on a fascinating subject. Thanks for turning me on to this.

  89. Thanks for this post mark. I am currently reading “The Fat of the Land” and I am fascinated. Im interested in pemmican because as a full time college student and full time worker I have absolutely no time to cook meals! And because I detest fast food I have been starving, and loosing weight. Pemmican seems like the perfect way to get some adequate nutrition while on the go. Im going to order some off us wellness meats and hopefully make some of my own…one day.

    1. I think pemmican is the perfect solution for your needs, busy student on the go, also for office workers, anyone who needs grab and go nutrition, something you can nibble on all day and never get hungry… though if it’s made well with quality ingredients then it’s more expensive than most grab and go junk people eat these days, and nobody sells pemmican that’s made with raw meat like the original version that can keep you healthy for months without fruits and veg. I like to use a lot of dry fruit and nuts though and some honey and a dash of pink salt. It’s very tasty, like dinner and desert in one! It is an acquired taste, but just eat some before and after a hard work out or a hike with heavy pack and you’ll acquire the taste quickly and even crave it 😉

  90. ?Try an EPIC Bar?. They don’t say they are pemmican but that is what the ingredients and the taste lead me to believe. They are distributed out of Austin, Tx and the number on the package is (512)993-4774. I bought them at Whole Foods and am partial to the Beef, Habanero, Cherry. There is also a Bison and a Lamb version. Cal 190, Fat 11g, Carb 10g, Protein 13g. They are very satisfying.

  91. I think this is the solution I’ve been looking for for long (+7 day) backpacks. We need something that can survive being at the bottom of a bear canister over rough terrain for over a week.

    ~Wanderin’ Jack

  92. My grass fed rendered suet was not hard at room temperature, in fact it is yellow, somewhat graining like leaf lard, and as soft as butter. It also tastes like butter. I get my steers from a family who raise them on pasture up in the mountains. The fatty acid profile of beef changes dramatically with the animal’s diet.

    1. Are you sure you rendered it so that there is absolutely no moisture? No gas bubbles coming up when you boil it?

      If so, then you used tallow and not suet. Suet is the fat from around the kidneys. It is more saturated than the fat from the rest of the animal.

      1. I was a chef and later food science major, I have rendered suet many times and suet from this ranch was the first time it came out yellow and soft, like butter, at room temperature. It hardens right up in the refrigerator. There was no moisture left.

        It was definitely not tallow, I am well aware.

        Now I just need to get my hands on high quality suet for rendering, there is nothing like it for pie and pastry.

        1. I’ve rendered fat with suet from different local farms, all grass-fed, organic, etc… and what I got from one farm turned out very soft also at room temp, not like tallow, I got some form another farm that was pretty yellow and quite solid and from another farm that was whiter and and seemed even harder, waxier, I noticed the waxiness it in the suet before rendering. I’m becoming a suet connoisseur!

  93. Ancient article…but a great topic to cover in regards to pemmican. I live in Alaska and embark on long wilderness adventures on a fairly consistent basis, so finding the best stuff to chow down on can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to calculate the value of food in terms of calories per gram.

    The basic recipe for pemmican is pretty bland, but if you designate the stuff for use in cold winter conditions, there are ways you can make an exceptionally Primal pemmican energy bar much more palatable. Here is a recent recipe I just made:

    1 lb. uncured organic bacon (oven-baked, but I would recommend drying instead)
    2 c. pitted dates
    2 c. unsweetened coconut, shredded
    1 c. raw macadamia nuts
    4 Tbsp. coconut oil
    4 Tbsp. lard (rendered fat from bacon)
    3 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
    3 Tbsp. ground chia seeds
    3 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
    1 tsp. crystallized lemon

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor, mix/shred/atomize, then pour out onto a large baking sheet to spread evenly. Freeze for about 1 hour, then remove. Cut into 1 x 3 inch bars, then store in freezer.

    Bars can be individually wrapped in aluminum foil, or kept in a large zip-lock bag for storage. Keeping the bars frozen will maintain their shape and prevent easy crumbling, with the foil wrapping holding the form in case they are ever brought back to room temperature. This promotes their use in cold-weather endurance activities.

    These bars are quite tasty and offer a wide range of flavors, not to mention a tremendous amount of calories.

  94. Why do you need to start with lean beef, when you add in fat?

    1. Because the fat does not dry well in the dehydrator. For it to have a long shelf life, it needs to be rendered to get 100% of the moisture out.

  95. I’ve made pemmican and I love the stuff! I make 5 lbs. at a time. Mine’s just powdered home made jerky, rendered suet, and a bit of sea salt. I pour it into mini muffin tins, let it harden, pop ’em out and wrap each in waxed paper. Then I put ’em in a plastic bag in the freezer. Thaw the night before using. It’s a great snack with a piece of fruit or raw veggies!

  96. Apologies if this is a question you’ve already answered. Please, would you describe or demonstrate with a picture for scale the size of one lb. of pemmican (just an approximation would be awesome)? After a week of research, this seems to be the one piece of information I can’t track down.

  97. As a Scoutmaster, years ago, everybody ate pemmican bars on the Philmont trails. The stuff tasted like sawdust and nobody finished a bar. But now I see that it can be made to taste and would be good for long distance hiking and bike riding.

  98. Hi there,

    Great article, I really loved it.
    Your photos seemed familiar and I know remember where I’ve seen them before.
    This site: http://www.askaprepper.com/pemmican-ultimate-survival-food/ stole your article and pictures.
    I hate people who steal content from others and act high and mighty as it was their own work. I thought you should know about it.

    Have a great day,
    Donnie

  99. You can imagine how useful this would have been back in the day. Before refrigeration and modern preservative techniques, many methods were used to preserve foods. This would have been one of the better methods. Since the fat would otherwise go unused, it is added to the dehydrated meat instead. High protein content, edible as-is for survival situations, or useful as an ingredient in other dishes. I just wish there was an option to turn meat into jerky and pemmican in the old Oregon Trail pc game

  100. Thanks for this post. I made it for our class. We are studying food culture of the first people to arrive to North America. Kids loved the experience. I did have to spice it a bit.

  101. Hi Mark, don’t know if you covered this question, how would this be kept? What I mean do you keep it in vacuumed seal jars, or maybe in sealed bags or something! How do you store it for long time use?

  102. Next time you could use egg white powder as the protein source. And I heard the Indians used marrow in their pemmican as well as tallow, which is one reason Steffanson remained so healthy. Bone marrow is amazing!

  103. Does anyone make REAL pemmican for sale? I know US Wellness does something that is very far from shelf stable, one of the biggest reason to use pemmican is because it keeps well. Epic bars are kind of disgusting. Bricks bars are pretty decent, very dry, and not actual pemmican.

    1. We’re looking into the feasibility of such a product. The main issue is if the meat needs to be truly raw, or if it has to be subjected to a humid 125-130°F before drying as per beef jerky guide lines. That’s not a very high temperature but supposedly all the enzymes in raw meat are destroyed at 118°F. We’re trying to start a discussion for this and other issues related to pemmican production and health at http://www.realpemmican.com/ if you have any ideas or know more about raw meat nutrition.

  104. Hi Eric, totally agree on US Wellness Pemmican’s shelf life. Frankly, it sucks and adding water to it totally destroys the purpose. We’re a group if friends in Switzerland/Germany and intend to make a batch of pemmican soon. Sourcing dry meat currently is the hardest part as we’re thinking of producing 200lbs/100kg of Pemmican. Using non-professional ovens to dry all the meat is out of question. But let us know if you’re interested – maybe we can help out.

    1. Hi Dominik, that’s whole lot of pemmican! It will take a lot of meat. I tried your link but it doesn’t work. Is this for an expedition or something?

  105. I hope people are still watching this thread for newer posts. I’m curious about some things.

    Assuming the world as we know it is NOT about to end, and we just want to be prepared for emergencies (shelter in place or evacuation situations, loss of family income,) how long would pemmican last? If I made it today, and stored it in an air tight container, would it still be good in 2 yrs… when a tanker spilled toxins and my family had to evacuate the area? Or longer?

    I’m thinking, several lbs of pemmican, some hardtack, and a good supply of dried fruits/veggies should last for at least a few years…. shouldn’t it? Powdered milk isn’t as stable, and tends to turn bad (as does canned milk) after a a few years. Any alternatives for the dairy needs? Cheeses can last for a long time.

    Also, to the question of salt that was mentioned on earlier posts. Coastal people had kelp (seaweed) available, but I’m not sure if the Inuit had that option. Salt is one of the earliest known preservatives for everything from mummification to food storage, so it has to be available in abundance around the globe …. if you know where to find it.

    So, I’d really like to hear if anyone has answers to my questions. Thanks. Happy Prepping, Y’all!!!

  106. I had heard of this stuff before but never seen it. Though I’m a vegetarian for the most part, I would not hesitate to eat whatever is available in a crisis. At the least, people ought to know HOW to survive without abusing other people’s kindness or lives should there be a natural disaster or economic collapse. Unprepared people in cities would pour into the countryside like roaches, with just as much of a moral compass. Those who know how to survive will have the best chance. It’s never stupid to be prepared for anything. If it doesn’t happen, fine; but if it does, you’re better off than the next guy. Thanks for sharing.

  107. Lots of interesting and probably tasty recipe innovations discussed here, but be careful about such recipe changes if you are not going to consume quickly. Pemmican was likely developed by native people as an easily transportable food, not just because it is nutritionally dense, but also because it is safely storable under primitive conditions for long periods of time. Changing the recipe changes the shelf life and safety factor.

  108. wow, that was a cool article to read. I never new you could keep food fresh like this. I guess living off the land, you must know what you’re doing.

  109. just ran across your page,
    you left out a very important fact in making Pemmican if you want it to last a long time and have good health values 20 to 40 years after you made it. and that is the temperature you dry your meat at and the temperature you render your fat at. meat should never be heated over 120, 100 to 155 is ideal.
    rendering should never go over 240.
    the last we made was in 1965 eat the last if it October 2015, was just as good as the it was made.
    it had no fruit in it just spices, by leaving fruit out shelf life in a sealed container is, well as far as i know over 50 years.
    and if you use good spices and flavor to taste you should never be disappointed with the taste.

    1. Late to the post but you say the meat should never be heated over 120 but then say 100 to 155 is ideal. Am I missing something?

  110. I made a 20 bars a few weeks ago. Dchopped up dry jerky, nuts, peanuts, dried mango, pineapple and coconut. Was it good? It was DELICIOUS! Mixed in some palmtreesugar to sweeten it a bit (and add some more calories). Everyone was after my pemmican so now I’m making new ones without telling anyone. It’s like an energybar but as filling as a complete dinner. Not to be used as a little snack because that will ad a whole daily intake of colaories tot your normal day. Great for who needs to gain weight. And that’s not me… :/

  111. Awesome! I am really lucky I found this article.
    I’m interested in pemmican cause I’m a full time college student and full time worker I have absolutely no time to cook meals!
    This helps a lot 🙂

  112. Great post! I’m sorry if this has already been covered – I have a German dehydrator and the highest setting is 70 degrees Celsius. Which scale does this article refer to in the directions? Because I’ve been wondering if I should cook the meat before dehydrating it, in order to avoid bacteria and such, since the temperature won’t get very high. I don’t need to store it for years on end, I just need it for prolonged hikes and a possible year long trek through Norway.

  113. I’m new to pemmican. When finished, does it melt easily in warm climates? Does it ‘squish’, or does it generally retain its form? Does It make the container greasy/smeary, or is it generally clean to store? Thanks.

  114. Mark, I’ve been working on a pemmican recipe to include in a series of children’s books I’m writing about different cultures. The Native American culture is one that we have here right in our own backyard!

    I was trying to figure out if I really needed to refrigerate it, or if it would last in my cupboard, etc. I wasn’t sure how to make it or how to store it since I have never done it before. I had read accounts that pemmican could last 50 years. I read that it was the ultimate survival food. I read that it didn’t need to be refrigerated.

    As I did research about pemmican this is what I discovered: It was mostly made by the Metís Indians in Canada. It was traded with French Trappers and the like, who used it as a staple food for the long journeys they would make into the wilderness. It was useful because it was lightweight and nutritious.

    The important part is that it was mostly made and traded in CANADA. Not New Mexico, where I live. Your article mentions the Inuit. I was realizing how much the context was important, and that the blanket statements I had read about pemmican in general didn’t necessarily apply in my region. It’s all about context…

    Here are my (edited) truths about pemmican:

    Pemmican can last 50 years. If you don’t mind the lingering flavor of rancid fat and you don’t mind losing a quarter of the product when you cut it away from the leather bag in which it has been buried underground for half a century.

    Pemmican is the ultimate survival food. But, let’s face it. If you’re really just surviving, you would be grateful for anything – especially pemmican. You wouldn’t care if it tastes like crap.

    Pemmican does not need to be refrigerated. If you live in Canada. And consume it within one year. Which was the point of pemmican anyway. Young, perky native american women didn’t make 90 lb batches of pemmican so they could bury them underground in the hopes of feeding it to their grandchildren 50 years later.

    That being the case, this is what I have come up with so far:

    Carne seca, plain (Casa Blanca makes a good carne seca. I have just been ordering grass finished jerky from reputable online company and putting it in the oven at a low temperature until it is crispy).

    Grass finished ghee

    Organic unsweetened dried tart cherries

    Organic unsweetened dried blueberries

    Organic almond flour

    Chopped pistachios

    Salt

    Rubbed sage

    Ground fennel seed

    I’m getting ready to make another batch and I’m going to pay more attention this time to the proportions. When I’m in the kitchen I pretty much whip things up by instinct but if it’s going to repeatable I need to figure out an actual recipe!

    With the ingredients I mentioned, the flavor of the pemmican is outstanding. Everything that is in my pemmican is shelf-stable to a certain point. That being said, I have chosen to make balls out of the pemmican and put it in the refrigerator.

    Warmly,
    Gina