How to Make Pemmican, the Original Survival Food of Native Americans

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How to Make Pemmican, the Original Survival Food of Native Americans


Learn why Pemmican, the original food of Native Americans, is considered the ultimate survival super-food and how to make Pemmican. Step-by-step instructions, recipes, and variations.

Pemmican, the original survival food of Native Americans

This might be your first time in getting acquainted with Pemmican, but this food mixture has been in existence for centuries – this can even be older than you! If you’re looking for the best survival food for you and your family, you’ve come to the right place. Pemmican can be the answer to your search. This article is filled with vital information you need to know about Pemmican, so read on!

Knowing What Pemmican Is

Pemmican is from the Cree word “pime” which means fat or grease. It’s made from a concentrated mixture of red meat and fat. Pemmican is considered a nutritious food because it contains a lot of micronutrients, needed by the body. It’s a recipe developed by the Northern American Indians and has been used as early as the 18th and 19th centuries. The recipe that most people are presently using is very similar to how the Native Americans did it before. And today, it’s still used by many as a survival food, which can last for years if properly prepared and stored.

Commercial Version of Pemmican

If you don’t have the time or the interest to make your Pemmican, you don’t have to worry because this mixture is already available on the market. You can readily purchase it from your local supermarkets and save the time from making one. Companies are selling it in stick and bar forms, choose what’s convenient for you based on where and when you’re planning to consume it. If you’re a hoarder and want to be prepared for emergencies or long travels, you can also buy Pemmican in pails. But even if you purchase yours from the market and these products are commercialized already, make sure that you still store it appropriately as this will affect the Pemmican’s shelf life.

Pemmican Storage

You want your Pemmican survival food to last for years because that’s basically what you’re expecting, right? For you to achieve this goal, it’s important to know how to store it properly. To know how, you can follow the list below. It will help you store your Pemmican based on the amount that you currently have:

  • You can store pemmican bars and pails in the freezer for two years.
  • Pemmican bars with sea salt can be bought for weekend out-of-town trips as these don’t require refrigeration.
  • During emergencies, you can store your Pemmican in a cool, dry place. Just make sure that it’s not being hit by direct sunlight.

Keep in mind that keeping your Pemmican in the freezer is the best option to store it.

Nutritional Contents of Pemmican

Many have considered Pemmican to be a source of the essential nutrients for a man to survive. It’s a nutritionally complete food, and some people have solely eaten this mixture for years. If you want to do the same or if you’re just curious about what’s inside a Pemmican, this list will be helpful for you:

  • Carbohydrates: When you eat Pemmican, you can guarantee that you’ll be energized throughout the day. It might be made from the simplest ingredients, but your carbohydrate requirement is never compromised.
  • Fats: Even if you only eat a little amount of Pemmican, you can still have that energy because it has fats. Once you take in fats, you’ll be able to absorb more vitamins A, D, E and K from other foods. This also fills in your fat cells which makes your body warm and more insulated – making the Pemmican your perfect go-to snack when you’re planning to visit a location with subzero temperature.
  • Protein: You need protein to repair any broken cells inside your body. It will also help make your antibodies strong which will make you invulnerable to infections around you. You’ll not be prone to common colds or flu once you have adequate protein intake. Protein is also important to keep your body functioning.

Reasons why Pemmican is the Best Survival Food

Sure, you’ve read in different sources that Pemmican is considered as a survival food but do you know why?

  • Because it can last for 50 years: Yes, you’ve read that right. Although it’s made from, simple ingredients, Pemmican can last for years. And it doesn’t require too much storage for it to last that long – you just need an airtight container and you’re good to go!
  • Because it can give you high energy: Because it’s mostly made from meat, it can give you energy even if you only munch on Pemmican during surviving times. A lot of food can last for years but can it give you that boost of energy like a Pemmican can do?
  • Because it’s portable: This can come in bite-sizes so you can bring your Pemmican wherever you are.
  • Because you can “customize” the recipe: the main ingredients of Pemmican are red meat, fat, and salt. Aside from that, you can add all your favorite herbs and spices. You can even add honey if you want your Pemmican to taste a little sweeter. You can also choose as to how you want your Pemmican to look like. Do you want it to be in bars or balls? Everything is up to you.
  • Because it’s made from simple ingredients: Again, to make a Pemmican, it’s simple. You use red meat, fat, and salt. These three ingredients will be the only things you’ll never to survive for years.

How to make Pemmican

What makes Pemmican different to all other fat-based food out there is you can decide what goes into the recipe. You can have the option of adding your favorite herbs and spices make Pemmican one of your favorites. There are a lot of ways on how you can make it, but the most common involves the following ingredients and procedures.


  • Red meat: You can use game meat here, but beef can also be a substitute. You can use whatever meat is convenient for you, as long as it’s not pork meat because you’ll be at risk of Trichinosis. If you have a favorite red meat, go ahead and use that in your Pemmican recipe.
  • Melted animal fat: You can follow a 1:6 ratio of fat and dry meat, but don’t limit yourself to this proportion. You can always try to experiment.
  • Salt: You’ll need to use 1tsp of salt per pound of meat
  • Optional: Dried berries, honey and your preferred spices and herbs.


  1. Keep the meat dry: Anything that’s wet will make your food go bad faster. You don’t want that to happen so make sure that you cut off the fat from the meat and slice it thinly. Once done, you can dry the meat by using a rack and place it under full sunlight. The thinner the meat is, the faster it will dry out. It’s all the better if you put the rack around noon time or when the sun is striking to fasten this process. Another option you can make for this process is to dry your meat directly in your oven rack set to the lowest temperature setting. You don’t want your meat to be too dry that it cracks when you bend it. Don’t forget to add the salt as this will increase your Pemmican’s shelf life.
  2. Crush the meat: You want your meat to be in its powder form. Use whatever tools you may have – food processors and blenders work well in this process. If you don’t have any tools, you can chop the meat into small bits and then crush it.
  3. Thoroughly render the fat: You can have the option to use a stove or a crockpot in the oven in this process. But whatever you’re using, make sure that you stir religiously through the fat to ensure that it will not bubble while in the heat. Then strain this to filter any small pieces.
  4. Add the dry extras: You can now mix your dried meat with raisins or nuts – just make sure that what you’re adding to the meat is dry (but be careful on what you add to the dry meat as this will reduce the Pemmican’s shelf life). Place this mixture in a bowl and make room as you’ll be adding the fat later on.
  5. Mix in the fat: Slowly add the fat in the bowl while slowly stirring the mixture. Mix everything well and make sure that everything will have that constant texture.
  6. Add the wet extra: You can add your desired wet flavors in Pemmican too. If you’re into honey or maple syrups, this is the best time to add these to your mixture (adding any of these will also decrease the Pemmican’s shelf life). Slowly add your preferred wet ingredients and stir well in the mixture. Make sure that your wet ingredient is spread out all evenly in the mixture.
  7. Form the Pemmican: You can form the Pemmican into bars or balls, it’s up to you. You might consider when and where you’ll eat your Pemmican and form it accordingly.
  8. Storage: If you’ve finished all of the processes indicated in this list, you can now store your Pemmican in an airtight container or Ziploc bags. You can store this in your fridge or a call dry fridge.

Nowadays, disasters are happening everywhere – wars are being fought, and typhoons are being conquered. Situations like these are something that you can never predict and control, that’s why Pemmican can easily become your super food. You can prepare this mixture ahead of time to ensure that your family has something to eat during emergencies – and a healthy option at that. You no longer have to worry about hunger because you have the solution to that problem!

Todd Green is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys traveling and getting back to nature. He enjoys camping, hiking, 4WDing and more. He currently writes for and enjoys spending time with his family and friends.


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