Pemmican may just be the perfect holiday gift to make for all the lovers of the great outdoors in your life. An ancient food with modern viability for those who love hiking, wilderness skiing, hunting and a variety of cool to cold weather outdoor activities, pemmican keeps for years with no refrigeration. This is a gift that will not only be useful but appreciated and treasured.
Traditionally, one would prepare pemmican using deer, elk, caribou or buffalo, but today beef is most commonly used. This method will work for all red meats. Do not use bear, bird or pork. It is a raw foods product and does carry raw food risks, so prepare carefully using only the best of fresh ingredients.
Pemmican is one part dried red meat to one part pure fat, though one may substitute up to a third of the meat portion with dried berries. It is suggested that no seasoning be added in the pemmican-making process. Some folks like to add a bit of salt or salty seasoning mixes when consuming. These should be packaged separately. In these modern times, some choose to add dried ground nut powder and even pure raw honey for added flavor.
Meat is best prepared in thin strips at low heat (100 F to 115 F) cold smoked or in the oven. This takes up to 15 hours. It is best done in a cold smoker over seasoned hard wood or in an oven. When completely dry, the meat will easily crumble. All fat and bones should be removed before drying. 10 pounds of fresh red meat will produce 2 to 3 pounds of completely dry meat. Once dry, the meat may be pounded or processed in a blender or food processor to create a dry meat powder.
Berries may be used in one’s mixture. Saskatoon berries are the traditional berry, but one may use blueberries, raspberries or even cranberries. Berries must be completely dried (about 5 to 6 hours) until they can easily be crushed into powder.
Traditionally, the fat used would be from the marrow of bones, but today one can purchase pure organic beef fat. To prepare the fat, one should heat it to 150 degrees throughout forming a liquid. A candy thermometer works well to assure proper temperature. Once liquid, this fat should be strained using a paper towel in a sieve to assure it is free of unwanted debris. Cool to room temperature before mixing with meat (and berries if used).
Mix equal portions of room temperature dried meat and fat thoroughly (add dried berry or nut powder and pure raw honey if you wish) and then package in air and moisture free containers for storage. Vacuum packing works best, but plastic sandwich bags work fine if the air is squeezed out. Store in dark place with temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees and this product will keep for several years.
Pemmican should be made during relatively dry cool weather as any moisture or heat will compromise the finished product. The amount of fat may be reduced if to be used by summer hikers. It does not hold up in weather greater than 60 F to 70 F as the fat will melt and this compromises the safety of the product. It is best for cooler activities.
See the joy erupt when your outdoors lover receives their pemmican package.