Pemmican Recipe

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Jerky was often made into pemmican by the Native Americans, utilizing suet cooked to render off the fat, then adding the fat, as well as fruits, herbs, and other ingredients to jerky that had been pulverized. Today you can use a food processor to quickly pulverize the jerky.
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Add raisins or other dried fruits and nuts to the pulverized jerky, then stir in the warm, melted fat, adding only enough fat to hold the mixture together. A butter-flavored shortening is a good alternative to bacon grease or rendered suet.
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“The Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game” find new tips and techniques for smoking a variety of meats.
10 pounds SERVINGS


  • 5 lbs. jerky
  • 1/2 lb. brown sugar
  • 3/4 lb. raisins or dried currants
  • 4 lbs. melted fat


    • Pound the jerky until it crumbles, and mix all ingredients together.
    • If you want to make a more modern version, first run the jerky through a food processor. Then, add a cup of raisins, a cup of salted peanuts, and a cup of brown sugar for each pound of jerky.
    • Other dried fruits such as cranberries can also be used. Sugar is optional, a matter of taste. The sugar can also be replaced with chocolate or any other flavor of chips (butterscotch, semisweet, milk chocolate, and so on).
    • Press the mixture into a pan, packing tightly.
    • Pour melted suet or other fat over the mixture, using only enough fat to hold the ingredients together. It’s easy to get too much fat. A modern alternative to melted suet or bacon grease is a butter-flavored shortening. Allow the mixture to cool and then cut into squares for
    • storage and use.
    • To make a chili version, leave out the sugar and dried fruit and stir in chili seasoning with the ground jerky and fat. To use, add a chunk of the chili-flavored pemmican to a pot of cooking beans. This makes a very hardy camp meal.
    • For long-term storage, it’s best to keep your jerky supply in the freezer and make pemmican just before consuming. Except for short periods of time, keep pemmican in the refrigerator, especially in warm weather.
    • It’s possible to make jerky and pemmican using these age-old traditional methods, even in a remote camp, but always follow safe food processing methods.
    More from The Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game:
  • Curing Fish for Jerky

  • Excerpted with permission from 
    The Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game by Monte Burch. Copyright 2015 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. PRINT RECIPE

    Learn how to preserve meat, fish, and game and create delicious smoked and cured foods. Whether you are a serious hunter or angler seeking to cure and smoke your harvest or a consumer simply looking to save money while creating delicious treats at home, The Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) by Monte Burch can help you!

    Made from jerky, pemmican was also a staple food of the Native Americans. Another of my favorite old-time writers, George Leonard Herter, in his Professional Guides’ Manual, published in 1966, stated, “Pemmican properly made is one of the finest foods that you can take into the wilderness or for a survival food in case of atomic bombing. Pemmican keeps indefinitely. Today, in our wonderful atomic age, pemmican is part of the survival ration of the newest United States Air Corps jet bombers.”

    According to Col. Townsend Whelen, “To make pemmican you start with jerky and shred it by pounding. Then, take a lot of raw animal fat, cut it into small pieces about the size of walnuts, and fry these out in a pan over a slow fire, not letting the grease boil up. When the grease is all out of the lumps, discard these and pour the hot fat over the shredded jerky, mixing the two together until you have about the consistency of ordinary sausage. Then, pack the pemmican in waterproof bags. The Indians used skin bags.”

    The proportions should be about half lean meat and half rendered fat. The Native Americans also added fruits such as wild grapes, dried berries and beans, corn, herbs, and other items. These added vitamin C, which prevents scurvy, as well as other nutrients and gave the pemmican different tastes. To use, place the dried block of pemmican in water and bring to a boil. Herter suggests dropping in some chili powder, soaking some beans overnight, adding them, and then “You will have an excellent chili con carne.”

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