How To Make Pemmican In A Survival Situation (2023 Guide)

In this tutorial, I’m going to go over how to make pemmican in a survival situation. This is the best and easiest recipe you’ll ever find.

It’s called the “ultimate survival food” and rightfully reflects its title as a “superfood.” Why? It can stay good for decades without spoiling. Pemmican, a food made by the Native Americans, is essentially a mixture of dried meat, animal fat, and sometimes dried berries.

Pemmican is filled with proteins and healthy fats to provide long-lasting nutrition. It’s straightforward to produce. It can be made out of almost every kind of fresh meat.

And on top of that, it tastes pretty darn good. Pemmican is the ideal survival snack to stash away your BOB, emergency kits, and survival food storage.

There is a lack of any significant survival food cache without a sufficient supply of pemmican. But beyond only getting pemmican, learning how to make pemmican is a survival ability that can save you from hunger.

Pemmican is very simple to make without the need for any special ingredients or equipment. Just follow the directions below, and you’ll learn how to make pemmican in no time.

Let’s dive in.

The term Pemmican is derived from the Cree word for “fat” or “grease.” The Cree Native American tribe was a survivalist tribe that produced many great things and is particularly known for making pemmican.

This was very popular with the natives because it was simple to produce, easy to transport, and held for so long. Traditionally, they made their own from wild animals, such as venison, elk, and moss.

After the Europeans arrived and tried pemmican, they immediately took the pemmican recipe and started to produce it themselves. Fur merchants also embraced pemmican.

They helped make it famous as tough survival food, spreading its popularity. Today, all these hundreds of years later, we still use pemmican in about the same way – and for all the same reasons.

Any pemmican recipe that has been tested for time, without being altered from its original form, is a good thing.

Making Pemmican

There tons of pemmican recipes out there. So many that you probably can’t count all of the emergency food recipes. It’s been handed down for many centuries, so it’s one of those recipes that everybody makes a little different.

It’s an old-world meal, and everybody has their own unique pemmican family recipe. But no matter what you add to pemmican, the main method of pemmican making is still the same.

How to Make Pemmican in a Survival Situation

For those who prefer to see how pemmican is produced instead of having to read directions, watch this great “how-to” tutorial.

Here is the simplest homemade pemmican recipe without any addons or B.S. right here.

1. Get your hands on some meat.

It may be caribou, venison, elk, moose, beef, or any natural fat meat. Rabbit and fish won’t work because they’re too lean and won’t give you the fat you need later.

2. Dry your meat.

The best way to do this is by using a food dehydrator. And, here are 15 things you need to know before you use food dehydrators that are a must-read if you’re new to dehydrating meat.

You just cut the meat into thin strips and put it on your dehydrator rack. Follow the drying time and temperature instructions for the dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry the pemmican meat in your oven.

  • Turn the oven to 170F.
  • Break the meat into thin strips and place them on a baking sheet.
  • You may also position the strips directly on the oven rack, but some drippings can get inside your oven.

It will take about 15 hours to dry the meat in the oven – periodically open the oven door to release the moisture that builds up.

3. Grind the dry meat strips.

Food processors are performing best for this. But without one, you can also mince the pieces of meat with a knife and then grind them in a blender.

If you’re in a real survival situation and you don’t have access to energy, your best bet is a mortar and a pestle. Or perhaps two rocks, if you don’t have anything else. The meat must be ground as finely as possible until it becomes fine meat dust.

4. Process the fat you saved in step #2.

Fat can go rotten fast. But, if you render it first, it will last practically forever. Rendering fat into tallow sounds complex, but it is actually very easy and has many health benefits.

It’s safer to use beef fat for pemmican, but you can also use lamb fat. You can get them at your local butcher, and they might even send them to you for free.

  • Remove any leftover meat that might be fat.
  • Break the fat into bits. You may even want to put it in your food processor to make it even smaller.
  • Put the fat in a large pot.
  • Cook at the lowest setting. You’ll need to cook for around 1 hour for every pound of fat. Yes, it’s going to take a while! You don’t have to keep track of fat all the time, but do a couple of check-ins, so you can ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • The fat is going to melt, so you’re going to see pieces floating on the surface.
  • When the bits on top are golden brown and the fat stops bubbling, it’s over. Strain the fat into a container through a sieve or cheesecloth. You just want the liquid pieces, not the crisp bits. When the fat cools off, it’s going to be a pretty golden color.

5. Mix dry extras and meat in a separate bowl.

We’re going to talk about what dry extras you might use later. For now, it’s time to combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl with your ground-up meat dust (leaving room for the fat).

6. Add the fat to your bowl of dry ingredients and meat.

Just pour it over the dry stuff and start mixing.

7. *(OPTIONAL) Combine in any wet extras if you want.

8. Start to turn this mixture into larger pemmican bars.

One of the most common ways to do this is to take a shallow pan and dump it into the pemmican mixture while still soft. Let the mixture calm down and smooth it out. When the pemmican has dried, cut it into smaller storage bars.

Done. This is how to make pemmican.

Pemmican Recipe Variations

Much like meat and fat, the pemmican bars are also very tasty. More importantly, for survival, prepared to provide a lot of resources and long-term storage. But it’s still fun to change things up.

And if you could make your pemmican taste even better, with very little extra effort, why wouldn’t you? As mentioned in the previous section, there are two types of extra ingredients that can be added to pemmican – dry and wet ingredients.

Unfortunately, you’re never expected to introduce something fresh. This may sound weird to some, but adding fresh ingredients (such as red ripe tomatoes) will compromise the shelf life of pemmican.

Anything you add to your pemmican recipe must also have a long shelf life.

Dry Ingredients For Pemmican

Dry ingredients include everything that has been dried. It opens the door to all sorts of pemmican recipe variants since you can dehydrate just about everything.

During phase 5 above, dry ingredients are blended into your pemmican—some people like the taste blend of meat and berry. Here are several ideas to consider:

  • Dry fruits: mangoes, blueberries, raspberries, chilies, bananas, strawberries, kiwis, pineapples, grapes, etc.
  • Dry nuts: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, etc.
  • Spices/Flavors: pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, coconut oil, etc.
I personally love putting dry berries in the mix. You should give it a try.

Wet Ingredients For Pemmican

As the name suggests, this category contains anything that is not dry. Wet doesn’t mean fresh, though – don’t get that mixed up.

Adding fresh ingredients to your pemmican will significantly shorten your shelf life. During phase #7 above, wet ingredients are added. Wet ingredients that you could add to pemmican bars might include (but are not limited to):

Caramel, syrup, butter, molasses, vanilla extract, etc. Don’t be afraid to make your pemmican artistic.

There are a number of options for customizing the pemmican bars you make. You may make it sweet and tangy or hot and spicy. Trying various flavors of pemmican has three purposes:

  • It increases the appeal of the flavor of the pemmican bars.
  • Let’s explore the flavors you like most in your pemmican (and how much of each).
  • It offers you a chance to experience making various pemmican batches. Training is fine. Your first homemade pemmican bars are unlikely to taste as good as your tenth set.

What Does Pemmican Taste Like?

Pemmican tastes slightly sweet and smoky, a little like beef jerky, but greasier. Some people have said that when eating pemmican, they thought it was beef jerky. The flavor can be altered with recipe variations. 

Pemmican FAQ

How long will pemmican last?

If all is dry and the meat is properly cooked, it will last for around 50 years when properly stored. However, since there is a lot of fat in pemmican, the fat will run out of oxidation.

There is still a lot of moisture in the air that can re-enter the pemmican. When moist, the pemmican could start going bad. The trick to increasing the shelf life of pemmican is to keep pemmican away from oxygen and moisture.

Obviously, I haven’t had pemmican on my shelf for ten years to tell you if it’s going to last that long. But I did eat pemmican, which is over a year old. To play it safe, I’d make sure that I cycle/rotate through your pemmican stock every year or so.

How do you store pemmican?

So, let’s presume you’ve made a lot of amazingly delicious pemmican bars with success. What now? Storage, guy! Properly preserving your pemmican is important to make sure it lasts a very long time. If it is stored wrongly and carelessly, it can go wrong relatively quickly.

However, it can last for decades when stored with care and precision. One reality about food and food storage is this: food poisoning sucks and can be harmful. If you’re ever in a survival situation with nothing to eat except the pemmican you stored years ago, it’s best to pray that you’ve stored it right.

Having food poisoning during survival is like signing your own death warrant.

First of all, pemmican must be kept in airtight containers. Vacuum sealing of pemmican protein bars in plastic bags is strongly recommended. Vacuum sealing provides the highest level of storage by extracting as much oxygen as possible. But zip locks and Tupperware will work well, too.

Mold only requires a few main ingredients to expand. Each of them is oxygen. So, by eliminating oxygen, you’re removing the opportunity for mold formation. The location where you store your pemmican must be cool, dark, and temperature controlled.

Light and heat would have a detrimental impact on your stock of pemmican. Basements and pantries operate, but my favorite is an underground food storage facility. Make sure that the pemmican is kept off the ground. This keeps it away from moisture and bugs.

Can you use pork fat in pemmican?

We will advise against using any pork or pork fat in pemmican as it may contain harmful bacteria.

Can you use lard to make pemmican?

Lard is made fat by a pig. We will warn against the use of any pork products in pemmican due to the possibility of trichinosis.

Can I use ground beef to make pemmican?

Ground beef is supposed to perform well, but make sure it does not burn during the preparation process.

Can I use coconut oil instead of tallow in pemmican?

Suppose it is dried and prepared properly. Coconut and other oils are supposed to perform well in the replacement of tallow. However, the shelf life of the pemmican will probably be shorter than if you don’t use the tallow.

Final Thought

Making pemmican is a very good life skill. This is highly practical. You’ll know how to make more if you need it, but you can rely on it to store it well for a long period of time.

It’s lightweight and easy to transport. With relatively few ingredients, you could make it anywhere. It’s a survival food that you can rely on in the case of a disaster.

You don’t have to use it exclusively for emergencies, either. Pemmican is a perfect snack for all types of outdoor adventures:

  • Hunting
  • Backpacking adventures
  • Boat fishing
  • Biking
  • Day/night hiking
  • Camping Road trips
  • Kayaking
  • Climbing in the mountains

A quick recap:

  • If stored and made properly, it can last up to 50 years while still being fresh and tasty.
  • It contains boatloads of fat and protein-energy that will last all day long. Y
  • ou could make it from a wide range of wild animals.
  • It’s lightweight and easy to pack and transport.
  • You can make it cheap, and you need very few ingredients.
  • It’s uncomplicated to do it, and you can do it in your kitchen right at home.

Any food storage without the supply of pemmican is incomplete. It’s such a useful and effective food; every survivor should be trying to get some of it (or to make some) (or to make some).

If you have a decent supply of pemmican, you’re ready for survival conditions and food shortages – no matter what.

Give a man a pemmican bar, and he’s got the energy of the day. Tell a man how to make a pemmican recipe, and he’s got energy for his whole life.

Thank you for reading this article on how to make pemmican, and if you want to learn more, here is a Wikipedia article. Here is a quick article if you want to learn about possum recipes, and if you would like to learn how to make penicillin, here is another.

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