Pemmican, a Good survival Food


Pemmican is something that we have all heard about, but probably have not encountered.  It was used extensively by the Native Americans, but there seems to be some confusion over exactly how they made it.  I suspect that part of the problem may be that it was made differently in various areas of the country.

Native Americans made pemmican because it was nutritious, didn’t spoil and was good for traveling. They used mostly dried buffalo or venison that they dried in the sun. They hung stripes of the meat over a stick supported by forked poles. When the stripes were brittle, they would beat into a powder and add hot fat to bind the meat and make a paste.  The mixture was shaped into either small loaves or cakes; thus, you could eat it while traveling and not have to stop.

There are a lot of questions about the use of berries by Native Americans, some sources say that they only put berries in pemmican that they sold to whites.  Here is a modern pemmican recipe for you to try.


  • 1 cup venison or beef jerky
  • ½ cup dried berries or fruit (list below)
  • ½ cup crushed nuts or seeds (such as sunflower seeds unroasted)
  • ½ cup rendered fat
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Optional dried fruits cherries, apples, raisins, currants and nuts.

Grind or pound jerky to a mealy powder in a bowl.  Add the berries and nuts.  Heat the rendered fat and honey until softened. Stir them into the meat mixture until well blended. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape it into logs or cakes.  Stored in an airtight container or plastic bag; it will keep for many months.

If you choose to make some pemmican, I would store it under refrigeration if possible.  If it is stored under adverse conditions, keep it as cool and dry as possible.  In case you see signs of rancidity or spoilage throw it away, do not eat it.

Here is a link to the  Pemmican Manual by Lex Rooker that you may find interesting.




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