by CavemanGreg on April 25, 2011

I would like to talk about pemmican today. If you’ve never heard of this tasty treat before, well, you are inĀ  for a treat. Pemmican was invented by Native Americans of North America. Before granola bars were mainstay, Pemmican was the ultimate portable snack food. It was made of whatever was available, but the general recipe is meat, tallow, and berries. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with tallow, this is simply animal fat that has been rendered (melted) and is ready to use for cooking or as an ingredient.Think about what happens to bacon when you cook it-the fat melts out, then eventually cools into a solid.

Elk, moose, bison, and deer were the most common forms of lean meat. The traditional method for preparing pemmican involves cutting the meat into thin strips and drying it, either in hot sun or over a fire. After drying, it needs to be ground into fine pieces, almost powder like. This is then mixed with tallow at a 1:1 ratio and berries are smashed in for a little extra flavor and sugar content. Cranberry is the most common berry used, but some people have also used gooseberries, cherries, currants, and blueberries.

Pemmican is known for its energy density, shelf life, and taste. Native Americans, hunters, fur trappers, and even soldiers would carry pemmican on long journeys. It not only packed easy and lasted for a long time, but it provided fantastic energy.

Try making some yourself for snacks, light hiking, or even backpacking. There are two stores that sell pemmican products online: Tanka Bar and Grassland Beef. The Tanka Bar uses buffalo and cranberry and has a fruity taste to it. The Grassland bar uses grass-fed beef and tallow, honey, and cherries. It also has some sweetness, but the fatty taste is a bit more prevalent.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Kempfer April 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I am desperately looking for a source to purchase buffalo tallow. Could you help? Jean


CavemanGreg April 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

Jean, one source I know of is Slankers:
scroll down to organs and fat. Tallow is actually the rendered version of fat. It is something you will have to make and then store in a cool place to prolong its life. but, here is a great source for the actual buffalo fat! best,


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