It is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as nutritious food. The word comes from the Cree root word pimî, "fat or grease". It was invented by the natives of North America. It is often called the ultimate survival food and is still used today.
used for pemmican were usually whatever was available. The meat
was often buffalo, deer, elk, or moose. Fruits such as
cranberries, choke cherries, blueberries, and saskatoon berries
were sometimes added. Now, honey, maple syrup or peanut butter
are also added.
The meat, with fat
removed was cut in thin slices and dried, either over a slow
fire or in the hot sun, until it was hard and brittle. About 5
pounds (2,300 g) of meat are required to make 1 pound (450 g) of
dried meat suitable for pemmican. Then the meat and berries were
pounded into almost powder-like in consistency, using stones.
The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat in an approximate 1:1
ratio. Now it is made using food processors or blenders.
Pemmican was widely
adopted as a high-energy food by Europeans involved in the fur
trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers. The resulting
mixture was usually packed into rawhide bags for storage. It can
be safely stored for many decades. It is usually served raw,
boiled in a stew, or fried. Pemmican beef jerky and pemmican
energy bars are still sold in the US and Canada.
During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), British troops were
given an iron ration made of four ounces of pemmican and four
ounces of chocolate and sugar.