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 It’s food from the 18th and 19th centuries,originally made by indigenous peoples in NorthAmerica and then used by voyagers, frontiersmen,and explorers alike.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 offood. It’s in fact, the ultimate survival food. Over the next few episodes, we’re goingto talk about exactly what pemmican is, howit was made historically, how you can makeit 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 on18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son. Pemmican was traditionally made of just twoor three ingredients; dried meat, animal fats,and dried berries. At the height of it’s production, from thelate 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 mostfamous for their pemmican. The Metis were a unique people group withtheir own cultural identity. They originated from the descendants of Frenchvoyageurs and their Native American wives. They were responsible for most of the pemmicanthat was sold and traded throughout the northernregions of North America. The Metis people developed an entire societalstructure based upon the buffalo hunt. While the men hunted buffalo, the women processedthem. Period accounts say that a skilled Metis womancould dismantle up to 10 buffalo carcassesa day leaving very little behind for the wildanimals to scavenge. Once the useable portions of the animal wereharvested, they’d be processed over thenext few days. The meat was cut into thin strips and laidout on wooden racks to dry near the fire andin the heat of the sun. The skins were stripped of their hair andsewn into rawhide bags that would be usedto store the pemmican. Suet was melted and refined into tallow andthe 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 50pounds of rendered tallow. The dried meat was pulverized and placed intorawhide bags. Sometimes dried berries were mixed in. Then the liquid suet was poured in over thetop and mixed in well. Then the bag was sewn shut. Pemmican produced and stored in this fashionwould 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 howyou can make this authentic pemmican at home. If you haven’t already, please subscribeto our YouTube channel. You can also visit our website and you canrequest a print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.