How To Make Pemmican That Can Last For Years

Are you aiming to stock your cool basement for the winter? Or perhaps you are looking for preserved food that would be fine during travel or backpacking? Whether you are a homeowner or adventurer, add Pemikan to your preparation plans. This stuff is not just a complete superfood: Pemikan can keep for years if properly prepared and preserved.

Read on to find out what it is, how to make it, how to store it… and what to do with it!

What is Pamikan?

Pemikan is a living food that was made by the indigenous people of North America. From what I have learned, the name comes from the word Cree. Dummies. It is derived from Pim 6, (Meaning “fat” or “grease”), refers to the vital fat that both binds the other ingredients and nourishes the person consuming it.

The basic pamikan consists of dried meat which is grinded into powder and mixed with fat. It can be made with a variety of meats and additional ingredients such as dry fruits and nuts. Ultimately, you are aiming to create a mixture that has the highest nutrient density possible.

Early pioneers and merchants learned to make pemikan from indigenous people. As you can imagine, it soon became a staple food for cold cellars and pantries throughout the New World. The fur traders carried it with them while traveling, and both Arctic and Antarctic explorers considered it important on their travels.

You do not have to try to make Pemikon as an emergency food only! This stuff is also great for camping and backpacking trips, or simply as a tasty snack. In its simplest form, Pemicon is gluten-free, super low carb, keto and paleo. It is nutritious and healthy and can keep you running well as an expensive protein bar.

Ready to get started?

what you’ll need:

  • Meat: Dark game meats such as elk, bison, moose, wenson or caribou. You can of course also use beef, but avoid chicken or pork. Fatty game fouls such as goose and duck work well, but are not as lean as pheasants, turkeys, or grouse. Avoid rabbits or fish, as they do not have enough fat or protein to sustain you.
  • Dehydrator or Oven: The meat you use should be so dry that it basically breaks when you try to bend it.
  • Food Processor or Coffee Grinder: Once the dried meats have dried, you will need to process them and make them powder.
  • Tolo: Get a quantity of grass-fed beef from your local butcher. You can use the beef suit in a pinch, but since the color of the longo is given, you can store it at room temperature for a long time without spoiling. Use only Longo from beef or lamb: not pork fat.
  • Dried Berries or Other Fruits: Although many people make Pemikan without fruit, it is perfect for preventing scurvy. Choose tart fruits such as cranberries, cherries, tart apples, or Saskatoon berries for their high vitamin C content.
  • Salt and other spices: Not only does salt help preserve pemikan, it also gives it extra flavor. Mixing other spices like garlic powder, paprika, etc. can make the difference between surviving this material and really enjoying it.

* Note: Some people like to add honey to their pamikan. Honey is a great preservation agent with antibacterial properties, but sugars and moisture can reduce the shelf life of this food. If you want to add some sweetness, use dried, powdered honey instead.

About the ratio:

There are thousands of Pemican dishes, using various fats to meat ratios. The simplest form appears to be a 1: 1 equal ratio of fat to meat. Others have very little fat, especially if they are for travel snacks rather than live food.

I like to add dry fruits to the mixture, and my preferred ratio is 3: 5: 1 of fat: meat: fruit. This ratio creates the nutrient density we are aiming for, as well as providing sufficient bonding and protection to help the Pemikan last longer.

I recommend you play with some small batches that you like best. If you find that you are gagging at a ratio of 1: 1 or 1: 3 because it is too fatty, then reduce that ratio to 1: 5 or 1: 8.


The first thing you need to do is cut the meat into a thin piece of paper. For this sharpen your best knife so that they cut the meat easily. Once this is done, dry it in a dehydrator or oven until it is so dry it breaks. Seriously, the meat should be brittle dry. I put it in my electric dehydrator at 115 ° F for at least 8 hours, give or take. If it is still folded after that time, throw it back until it dries.

At that time, pour it through a food processor or old coffee grinder and powder it. Weigh this meaty powder and then pour it into a large mixing bowl while you prepare the other ingredients.

Finely chop dried berries (or other fruits) and weigh them. Remember that we are aiming for a 3: 5: 1 ratio of fat: meat: fruits. Therefore, if you are working with 5 kg of meat powder, you will want to add 3 kg of fat and 1 kg of fruit. If you are skipping fruits, aim for a 1: 3 fat and meat ratio for this recipe.

mix it up!

Mix these ingredients together, then add spices. As far as your herbs and spices are concerned, you really can’t go wrong with salt and garlic powder. Everything else is a matter of personal preferences, and what materials you are playing with.

For example, wensons and elk are delicious with dried blueberries, a little sage, salt, and onion powder. The bison is amazing with dried apple slices, salt, garlic and ground black pepper. For spicy Pemikan, try mixing beef with some dried mango and chipotle pepper powder. I suggest starting with an original recipe and then getting creative for future batches.

Finally, melt the longo or soot until it is liquefied, and pour that molten fat into the dry material. Mix it well with a spoon until it sticks well together. Then, make it into bars, balls or patties.


The indigenous people kept their pamikans in leather bags, which were hung above the ground. This kept the material dry and well away from insects.

Since we live in the country, we also have to deal with rats in pantry items. For example, our well-known method is to wrap the pamikan in waxed paper. Then, we take those wrapped pieces in paper bags and then put them in airtight glass containers. Then we put them in a cold cellar until we want to snack on them.

This is for snacks that we definitely plan to eat within a few months. For long-term storage, we recommend vacuum sealing parts and store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

Alternatively, you can also freeze those vacuum-sealed bits of deliciousness and they will keep for years. If you choose to freeze this item, you can also keep it in a standard freezer bag. No need to fuss with a vacuum sealer or other fancy equipment. Ultimately, you want to keep oxygen and moisture away from your pamikan, so airtight storage + cool temperature = golden.

How to eat pamikan

The easiest way to eat pamikan is like any other energy bar. Once it is cured, it has a chew consistency, so try cutting a small piece first. In fact, if you plan to eat your Pamikan in this form, make smaller, thinner bars. It would be very easy to break them into pieces, or cut them.

Alternatively, you can add pamikan to the water to make a stew or thick soup from it. It is a warm, nutritious comfort food on a cold autumn or winter evening. You can also use it as a base soup and mix everything you have with it. Make it a complete meal by adding some freshly chopped greens, if you can find them, and a side of cornbread.

As a final option, pamikan is one of the best ways to eat what itinerants call “rechaud” (reheat). Cut the pamikan bars into thin slices. Then, heat some fat in a pan, and fry the slices until crisp. Serve with fried potatoes and onions, or bannock.

Tips and final notes

The first nations elders I spoke to about making Pemikan advised against adding nuts, seeds, grains, or honey to the recipe if you want to keep it longer. If you are just making Pamikan snacks to take camping with you immediately, then proceed immediately. Conversely, if you are stocking your pantry with foods that survive, then these additives will spoil your pamikan very quickly.

Remember that Pemikan is a nutrient rich food. Whenever possible supplement it with fresh foods, and make sure to drink plenty of water with it.

Additionally, if you are living on animal protein and fat, you will need a source of vitamin C to balance. This is the main reason why many people like to add pungent berries to their pamikan. If you are not really keen on fruits or any sweetness, be sure to include other vitamin C in your winter diet.

A great way to do this is to take needles with conical (evergreen) needles, such as spruce, pine, or cedar. Just do your research to find out how safe it is for you to drink (usually only a few cups a week), and taste only a little at first to see if you are allergic to it.

Survival is the key when it comes to preparing food, right? Try not to sabotage funky Pemikan additives or spruce tea overdose.

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