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Packed with calories and nutrition and able to be packed and stored for long periods, pemmican is often called the ultimate survival food.

Created by Native Americans and adopted by European explorers of the New World, pemmican is a concentrated blend of fat and protein from lean, dried meat. The word “pemmican” is derived from the Cree root word “pimi” for “fat” or “grease.” Traditionally, the meats used in pemmican included bison, moose, deer and elk. Beef can be used as well.

The secret to pemmican’s long shelf life is in properly rendering the fat from the meat. The pemmican can be stored in airtight containers without refrigeration in a cool, dark and dry place. If made and stored property, it can last for years or even decades. There are reports of some pemmican lasting 50 or more years.

Let’s look at the steps to making pemmican.

1. Dry the meat. Cut off all the fat, and then slice the meat as thinly as possible before placing it on a drying rack in full sunlight. Another option is to place the meat directly on your oven rack with the oven temperature at its lowest setting. The meat needs to be dry enough that it cracks when you try to bend it. Adding salt will extend the shelf life. The more salt you add, the longer it will last.

2. Grind the meat. Now you need to grind the meat until it is powder form. If you do not have a food processor, mince the meat and then grind it in the blender. If you are in a survival situation, chop the meat into small bits and then crush it into a powder.

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3. Render the fat. Now heat the fat in a crockpot, in the oven or on the stove. Use a low setting for several hours, and be sure to stir the fat occasionally until it has stopped bubbling. Then pour it through a mesh strainer to filter out any pieces.

4. Mix the meat with any dry extras. If you are using any nuts or dried fruit, such as raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, mix it with the dried meat in a large bowl (leaving room for the fat). Note: These extras reduce the shelf life.

5. Add the fat. Next, add one part of fat per every two parts of the dried meat mixture (add more fat if needed). Slowly pour the hot liquefied fat into the meat mixture and stir well.

6. Add any wet extras. If you are adding wet ingredients such as honey, maple syrup or peanut butter, mix them in now. If the mixture seems too wet, you can add a little almond meal to get it to your desired consistency. You also may add salt to taste if you like. Note: These extras will reduce the shelf life.

7. Form the pemmican. A popular method is to spread the mixture into a casserole dish. Let it get firm before cutting it into squares or bar sizes. If you prefer, you can form the mixture into balls.

8. Store the pemmican. Once cut, place it into airtight containers and store them in a cool, dark and dry place. You also store your pemmican in zippered bags in your freezer.

There are many varieties of pemmican, but they all use the basic instructions. Many other recipes begin with a 1:1:1 ratio of basic ingredients such as:

1 cup of dried fruit or berries

Pemmican is surprisingly filling and can supply energy for hours.

You can experiment to find the recipe that works well for you. Label the pemmican you make with the ingredients and proportions you used, so you will know what combinations work well and how you might want to tweak a certain recipe a little in the future.

What is your favorite recipe for pemmican? How long does your pemmican last? Share your advice in the section below:

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I noticed it said in the article that additions other than simply meat (salt optional) and fat will have a reduced shelf life. I curious as to just how much it is reduced by? Obviously this stuff wasn made to be stuck in a refrigerator, so I mainly interested in the length of time or can be kept in a cool dry place; not a freezer or refrigerator, or even a cold cellar, just on a shelf or in a (well ventilated) shed. Thank you all for the helpful information you have this far shared here. It is appreciated. You can cook meat(not pork), put it in a glass jar with an air tight seal. Fill it with meat, pour hot fat over it, put the lid on tight and put it upside down so the fat covers the inside/bottom of the lid. The fat will get hard and seal it to prevent air from coming in. Can last months. Pork goes bad quick and is the filthiest meat, pork contains parasites that doesnt die from heat or freezing and is extremely unhealthy. Cut meat like beaf or game into strips, put it in brown vinegar for 2 days together with ground salt and bit bown sugar, can add coriander also. Hang the meat in cool, well ventilated area for about a week. Can put a fan on it to blow it dry quicker. No hot air! You can freeze dry game meat once its completely dry. I havent frozen dry beaf yet. If you vaccuum pack it, it can last years, the drier the meat, the better. We have raised chickens,cattle and pigs. We have harvested them all. The CLEANEST was the pig meat. It depends on what you feed them and how you raise them. Ours NEVER got slop! They never had any meat only veggies that needed eaten, corn, and extra milk from our milk cow. We would let them range on the farm during the day and they loved to root in the fields for weed roots and acorns. When we would harvest one it was always in cold weather. The meat was always firm,the liver healthy. NO WORMS,etc. Beef was also good, but the chickens would eat anything. They are bottom feeders.

Thank you for clearing that up. It reinforces what I was taught 20 years ago by my farmer brother in law.

When I put up my experimental pemmican this fall, I will use lean cuts of beef (red meat), thin sliced by the butcher to exactly the thickness I want without slicing it myself. I will lightly salt all of the meat, dry it in the oven until near snap hardness. I cut it up and run it in a food processor (borrowed from my sister) until it is fine ground, and as needed render the tallow I buy.

I plan to add a little more salt to the final mix. Then I would like to try a small batch with ground up dried fruit, another with crystallized honey, and the remainder as is.

In the 21st century storage should never be an issue. Packaging in small food saver packets will keep from having to open a large bag for a few bars. With this and a few pounds of hard tack, you couldn go more basic and secure.

I don understand why you would say that pork fat gets bitter. Historically we have rendered lard from pork fat for use in all our cooking. My relatives have always used lard and continue to this day to render lard and use it for all their cooking needs. Properly canned and stored lard will last for years. The pure white lard, the lard rendered in the beginning of the process, has no taste and makes very soft and fluffy baked goods. It is more healthy than most alternatives people use today. Never buy lard in a supermarket, it not the same. Render it yourself or buy from an organic farm.

I need to address a few serious, serious misconceptions perpetuated in this comment There literally no basis for you making the claim that sheep fat is the best. You need to use rendered fat that is solid at room temperature, and that why lighter fats like schmaltz (rendered poultry fat) or bacon grease won work. Internal, visceral adipose tissues like the stuff tallow comes from is what you want to use if you making your own, not because of rancidity, but because it won melt as easily and expose the meat to bacteria. You can get a similar type of fat from pigs; we call it lard.

(2) There is no such thing as a parasite that survives heat. Cook anything long enough and every pathogen on it will die. botulinum) that can be removed by cooking. Moreover, pork today (at least in the US) is parasite free. Trichinella used to be a problem, but these days you more likely to get sick from a salad than from a medium rare pork loin.
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Discount vintage mulberry bags sale Outlet A Survival Superfood That Can Last 50 Years