Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food

This is pemmican. It’s food from the 18th and 19th centuries,
originally made by indigenous peoples in NorthAmerica and then used by voyagers, frontiersmen,
and explorers alike. It is a highly condensed nutritious form of
food. It’s in fact, the ultimate survival food. Over the next few episodes, we’re going
to talk about exactly what pemmican is, howit was made historically, how you can make
it in your modern kitchen and also how wecan cook with it, whether it’s at home,
at an historical event or in your next survival outing. I want to thank you for joining us today on
18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son. Pemmican was traditionally made of just two
or three ingredients; dried meat, animal fats,and dried berries. At the height of it’s production, from the
late 18th century to the mid 19th century,the vast majority of it was made with bison,
although at times deer, moose and elk wereused depending upon availability. A group of people called the Metis were most
famous for their pemmican. The Metis were a unique people group with
their own cultural identity. They originated from the descendants of French
voyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmican
that was sold and traded throughout the northernregions of North America. The Metis people developed an entire societal
structure based upon the buffalo hunt. While the men hunted buffalo, the women processed
them. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis woman
could dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcassesa day leaving very little behind for the wild
animals to scavenge. Once the useable portions of the animal were
harvested, they’d be processed over thenext few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laid
out on wooden racks to dry near the fire andin the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair and
sewn into rawhide bags that would be usedto store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow and
the bones were cracked and the delicate marrow extracted. A single bison cow when processed properly,
would produce about 250 pounds of raw meator about 50 pounds of dried meat. This same cow would produce, also, about 50
pounds of rendered tallow. The dried meat was pulverized and placed into
rawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over the
top and mixed in well. Then the bag was sewn shut. Pemmican produced and stored in this fashion
would last a long time. Some reports suggest 10, 20, even 30 years. It was the ultimate survival food. In our next episode, we’ll show you how
you can make this authentic pemmican at home. If you haven’t already, please subscribe
to our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you can
request a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

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