How To Make Pemmican: The Ultimate Survival Super-Food

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How To Make Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Super-Food
How To Make Pemmican: The Ultimate Survival Super-Food. Photo –

Invented by the natives of North America, pemmican was used by Indian scouts as well as early western explorers. These people spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time.

Pemmican was light, compact, high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and if done properly can last anywhere from a few years (decades) up to a lifetime without refrigeration!

Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat which is crushed to a powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. Back in those days, the natives made it with bison, deer, or elk but nowadays it is usually made with beef. Crushed, dried berries can be added as well.

A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy, the protein for strength and vitamins for health. There are a few cases in history of people living for months in good health with only pemmican.

So, it’s easy to understand why I choose pemmican as the ultimate survival-superfood.

People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how the guys who wandered the west 130 or so years ago did it. As I’ve said it in a recent article (30 Lost Ways of Survival from 1880) the “SHTF” we all prep for is what folks 150 years ago called “daily life:” No electrical power, no refrigerators, no Internet, no computers, no TV, no hyper-active law enforcement, no Safeway or Walmart.

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How to Make Pemmican

You’ll need:

• 4 cups lean meat or a pound (deer, beef, caribou or moose)
• 3 cups blueberries (or other dried fruits)
• 2 cups rendered fat (or 1/2 pounds)
• Optional – unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey

Get about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast and let it firm up in the freezer so you can slice it thin.


Add salt and pepper. Set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and put the strips of meat directly onto the rack. Crack the oven door to prevent moisture buildup.

At this point, you can also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

Let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it is crispy. Toss it in the food processor until it becomes a powder. Do the same with the blueberries. In the old days, they’d pound it with a rock to turn it into a “powder”.


For the fat portion of pemmican, you can use tallow (rendered beef or mutton fat) or lard (rendered pork fat). Cut up your fat into small pieces and place the fat into the crockpot. Set the crockpot on low heat and remove it only after it becomes completely liquid. Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

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Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder – slowly.


Let it firm up, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball.

If done and stored correctly it can last for decades. Wrap these “pemmican balls” in wax paper and store them in a ziplock bag in a cool, dark place.

Back in 1800, the native people Canada (Metis) would go southwest onto the prairie, slaughter buffalo, convert it into pemmican and carry it north to trade at the North West Company posts. For these people on the edge of the prairie, the pemmican trade was as important a source of trade goods as was the fur trade for the Indians further north. And this is because, for a serious journey, almost all foods would have been too heavy to carry.

If you’ll ever have to bug out – especially without a car – keep this in mind: Pemmican is the most compact, light, natural and nutritious supply you can take with you.

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24 thoughts on “How To Make Pemmican: The Ultimate Survival Super-Food

  1. So i guess what im wanting to know is how do we make it without the advent of a blender or oven? can the meat be sundried?

    1. Yes, you can sun-dry beef, however, you need to take hygiene into account. It would need to be kept insect free, so it’s easier if you had an oven or at least a smoker for meat preservation.

      in lieu of a blender, there is a metate (meh-tot-tay) which is similar to a mortar and pestle, but consists of a flat rock with another rock to grind the meat into powder. Takes a whole lot more effort (I’m off grid, trust me, it all takes more effort) You can find them sometimes at Walmart in the cooking section. A good one is made in Mexico out of lava rock and costs about $10-15. (more bowl shaped than flat)

    1. oil and fat that are protected from air stay fresh much longer than otherwise. Tallow doesn’t tend to go rancid to quick anyway, I have some deer tallow that has been open to the air for three years with no smell of rancidity.

      However the stories I’ve read say that the indians would wrap the pemmican in deer hide and might even seal it with more tallow to protect from buts and air. Pemmican stored that way would last a decade or so.

      1. Can it be made with regular olive oil rather than the tallow? If so how much would be required, because “Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder – slowly.” is a very vague discription.

        Any help is appreciated.



  2. Not just that but one could have just as easily copied and pasted the recipe into a Word document and printed it that way.

    Aside from that, Print Preview is there to assure someone doesn’t waste their paper.

  3. If you can’t figure out how to print text, I don’t think you need to spend much time on prepping, you’re not going to make it anyway.

  4. i live near a jack link facility, there is more hazardous nitrates in those products, you would have a better chance of survival without all the nitrates. in the event of the grid being gone,

  5. I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. Your
    article has really peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep
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  6. Although I have never used measured tools to make this, it looks similar to how I was taught to make pemmican. Thanks for the measurements.
    FYI: If leather and tallow aren’t around to wrap and store, another way is to imbed beeswax in denim or heavy cotton fabric, the wax acts as the tallow would and can be sealed in similar manner.

  7. I am a vegetarian and I wondered if there was something like this using beans, veggies, fruit, and no animal fat?

    1. I would think you need a fat that stays solid at room temp. The fat is needed for energy. I guess you could experiment, or google it.

  8. I live in pakistan, can i get this recepie book? if i can’t then please send recepie on my e-mail. thanks.

  9. Could the dehydration process be done in a solar oven? Also could this be done dehyrating different veggies? Would sealing in a vac seal wrap help to lengthen shelf life?

  10. Hi! Is there any restriction to the type of meat used? Like pork or lamb for example?

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