The Ultimate Survival Food: Pemmican – What it is And How To Make It

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Pemmican is the ultimate survival food. With a few ingredients, you can make a food that has a long shelf life & provides all the proper nutrients you need.

You aren’t always going to have the luxury of a stocked refrigerator in a survival situation. Besides stockpiling canned goods and other food items that can last an extended amount of time, how about making some pemmican?

Pemmican was originally made by Native Americans and consists of a mixture of concentrated fat and protein from dried meat. If made correctly, it has a near infinite shelf life.

Besides the long shelf life, pemmican is lightweight and easy to store and transport. Additionally, you can sustain yourself off pemmican alone for an extended amount of time.

Also, while having electricity is helpful in process of making pemmican, it isn’t required, allowing you to make it under nearly any situation.

Not the best in the kitchen? Don’t worry, the process is simpler than it may seem at first. Plus, it might just save your life.

Pemmican – What it is And How To Make It

What Exactly Is Pemmican?

While you might prefer your Spaghetti-Os, people have been relying on pemmican for centuries. European adventurers first discovered the amazing qualities of the food from Native Americans while exploring the New World.

The food traditionally used bison, moose, deer or even elk for meat, but nearly any other meat can work. While at first it may seem like a variant of jerky, it really isn’t.

Jerky usually consist of only the lean muscle types of meat, such as venison, and is dried in strips. Ultimately, if made correctly, jerky does not contain a lot of fat.

Because of this, you cannot adequately depend on jerky alone to provide you with enough nutrients. However, pemmican contains fat which adds to its nutritional value.

With its unique nature, adventures from centuries past would primarily rely on pemmican as their main source of food. Today, the food makes a great option for a survivalist enthusiast.

Additional Benefits

Besides the extremely long shelf life and its ability to provide an entire meal, pemmican holds a few other beneficial qualities.

Since it uses both the lean meat and the fat from the animal, pemmican ultimately creates very little waste, which is important. In a survival situation, you want to be maximizing you resources without wasting anything that could be useful

Because the food does not hold a lot of moisture, pemmican does not need to be refrigerated. Additionally, this makes it incredibly light and easy to carry.

Finally, since making pemmican is a rather simple process that does not require a lot of tools, the food can be made in nearly any survival or wilderness situation without special cooking equipment. Due to this, even if you do not have electricity, the food can still be easily made.

How To Make Pemmican

How To Make Pemmican

The kitchen can be a scary place, but not as scary as a survival situation with no food.

Pemmican is easier to make than it may first seem, by following these steps you can create the ultimate food that could save your life. Additionally, the ingredients required can be acquired at nearly any grocery store or butcher shop.


There are mainly only four basic ingredients you need to be able to successfully make pemmican.

  1. Lean meat – beef, buffalo, or venison make good choices
  2. Animal fat – you can use beef suet or you can buy rendered tallow or make it yourself
  3. Desired selection of fruit or berries – depending on your choices, this could reduce its shelf life
  4. Salt

Step One

Take your meat of choice and trim off any remaining fat, the meat should be as lean as possible. Next grind the meat with a meat grinder. If you do not have a manual meat grinder or electricity for an electric meat grinder, simply cut the fresh meat into thin slices.

Since you will be drying the meat, keep in mind that it takes between one to two pounds of fresh meat to make a single cup of dried meat.

Step Two

To dry the meat, spread it evenly over aluminum foil on a cookie tray and heat at 180 degrees for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is crisp and chewy.

If an oven is not available to you, sun drying the meat works just as well too or smoking it over a fire. Be aware that depending on your method of drying, it may take longer for the meat to properly dry.

Step Three

Once the meat has been sufficiently dried, grind the dried meat into a powdery form. An electric blender works well or, if you do not have that option, you can simply pound the dried meat using a pestle and mortar.

Step Four

Take your desired fruit or berries and dry it in the same way you dried the meat. Once dried, cut it into thin slices or chunks and grind it into a powder similar to how you ground the meat.

It is suggested not to grind it completely into a powder, but leave some chunks to provide additional texture and tasted to the pemmican.

Combine the fruit or nut powder to the meat powder maintaining a 1:1 ratio.

Add salt to the mixture to add to the taste. Additionally, keep in mind that the more salt you add, the better the shelf life of the pemmican.

Step Five

With the desired animal fat, it is important to render (or melt) the fat down as soon as possible to avoid it going bad.

Cut the fat into inch long cubes and melt it over medium heat in a small amount of water. If you do not have a stove, this can be done over a small fire. Additionally, if water supply is limited, rainwater makes a good substitute.

Be careful not to let the fat start to smoke, if this happens it means it is now burning.

Step Six

Once the fat has been properly melted you can then pour it over the fruit and meat powder mixture. As you are gradually pouring it over the mixture, stir until everything is evenly combined.

As you are pouring the fat, keep the same 1:1 ratio.

Once everything has been combined, spread the pemmican out in a thin layer and let it completely cool. After it has been cooled, you can cut the pemmican in any size easiest to store as.

You can store pemmican in plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, plastic storage containers or anything with a fitting lid. Try and store it in a dark, cool place and keep it within room temperature.

If it suffers a drastic change in temperature, or cannot be stored in a well-sealed container, the shelf life may be shortened.

Final Thoughts

Although pemmican can be made under nearly any condition, due to its longevity, it is recommended to make some ahead of the disaster. Plus, the more you make the more comfortable you will become with the recipe, which will help you if you need to make pemmican under less-than-desirable conditions.

Additionally, given the flexibility with the directions, you can experiment with different kinds of meats, nuts, or fruits to find a combination that works best for you.

There is a reason why pemmican has been valued as one of the best survivalist foods for centuries. When preparing for the possibility of a crises, don’t be too quick to overlook the simplicity of the food, because who knows – it might just save your life.

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