How To Make Pemmican: A Super Long Shelf Life Protein

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 03/15/2023

Our Simple, Easy To Follow, Step-By-Step Pemmican Recipe

Pemmican is one of the best survival foods you can make at home.

It’s considered by many experts to be a survival superfood.

Why? Because it lasts for years, even decades, without spoiling.

It’s jam-packed with proteins and good fats to provide long-lasting energy.

And it’s easy to make.

On top of all that, it tastes pretty dang good, too!

So today, I’ll use my Engineering, Food Manufacturing & Preparedness background show you my favorite pemmican recipe.

Plus a few other important and interesting pemmican topics, such as:


↓(click to skip ahead)↓

Brief History This Super Food

A Step-By-Step Recipe Guide

A Few Recipe Variations

Storing Pemmican The Right Way

Why You Should Make A Bunch

A Pemmican Tutorial Guide

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A Brief History Of Pemmican

It’s 100% meat, but it’s NOT beef jerky.

The snack was popular among the Natives because it was easy to make, transport, and long-lasting.

They traditionally made theirs from wild game such as venison, elk, and moose meat.

After Europeans arrived and tasted it, they quickly adopted the original recipe and began making it themselves.

↓ History’s First Protein Power Bar

Fur trade merchants also adopted it.

They made it famous as a substantial and hardy survival food, spreading its popularity.

Today, these hundreds of years later, we still use this superfood in much the same way – and for all the same reasons.

Any recipe that’s stood the test of time without being changed from its original form is good.

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Step-By-Step Process

There are more pemmican recipes out there than one could count.

It’s been passed down for several generations, so it’s one of those recipes everybody makes a little differently.

It’s an old-world food, and everyone has a special family recipe.

But no matter what you add to your recipe, the core process of making it is always the same.

So for that purpose, what follows are the bare-bones instructions for processing meat into protein bars.

For those who would rather see how it’s made instead of having to read instructions, watch this excellent “how-to” video:

↓ Video Instructions On Making Pemmican

1. First, you need to get your hands on some meat.

It could be caribou, venison, elk, moose, beef, or any meat with natural fat.

Rabbit and fish won’t work because they are too lean and won’t provide the fat you need later.

2. Dry your meat.

Cut off, save all the fat, and slice the leftover fat-less meat into thin strips.

Those strips can then be dried under direct sunlight or in your oven on the lowest heat.

Dry the thin meat strips until they’re brittle enough to crack when bent.

3. Grind the dried meat strips up.

Food processors work best for this.

But without one, you can also mince the meat pieces with a knife and grind them in a blender.

If you are in an actual survival situation and do not have access to electricity, your best bet is a mortar and pestle.

Or even just two rocks if you have nothing else.

The meat must be ground as fine as possible; think “fine meat dust.”

4. Process the fat you saved in step #2.

Put it all in a pot over low heat. Once the fat has melted and begun to boil, strain it through a mesh strainer.

5. Mix dry extras and meat in a separate bowl.

We’ll discuss what dry extras you can use later.

For now, this is the time to mix all those dry ingredients in a bowl with your ground-up meat dust (leaving room for the fat).

6. Add the fat to your bowl of dry ingredients and meat.

Simply pour it over the dry stuff and start mixing.

7. Mix in any wet extras (see the next section for details).

8. Begin forming this mixture into larger bars.

One popular way to do this is to take a shallow pan and pour the mixture while it’s still soft.

Let the mixture settle and smooth it out.

When the mixture has dried, cut it into smaller bars for storage.

Again, here’s my recommended video instruction:

↓ How to Make Pemmican – A Survival Super Food Recipe

Lost Ways Video Image Number 3

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A Few Pemmican Recipe Variations

As just meat and fat, pemmican bars are pretty tasty.

And more importantly, for survival, ready to provide lots of energy and long-term storage.

But it’s always tasty to mix things up.

And if you can make your recipe taste even better with very little extra work, why wouldn’t you?

As mentioned in the previous section, there are two types of extra ingredients you can add:

  • Dry ingredients
  • Wet ingredients

Unfortunately, you should never add anything fresh.

Adding fresh ingredients (like ripe red tomatoes, for example) will compromise the shelf life.

Everything you add to your recipe must also have a long shelf life.

Dry Ingredients

Dry ingredients include anything with very little moisture.

This opens the door for many variations because you can dehydrate (dry) just about anything.

Dry ingredients are mixed in during step #5 above – some people like the taste blend of meat and berry.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Dried fruits: mangos, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, kiwis, pineapples, tomatoes, grapes, chilies, etc.
  • Dried nuts: peanuts, almond meal, walnuts, chestnuts, pinion nuts, etc.
  • Spices/Flavors: paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, coconut oil, etc.

Wet Ingredients

As the name implies, anything that is not dry falls into this category.

Wet does not mean fresh, though – do not get that mixed up.

Adding fresh ingredients will drastically shorten its shelf life.

Wet ingredients are added during step #7 above.

Wet ingredients you might add include (but are not limited to):

  • Caramel, syrup, honey powder, molasses, vanilla extract, etc.

Don’t be afraid to get creative.

There are a lot of options to customize.

You can make them sweet and tangy or hot and spicy.

Trying different flavors serves three purposes:

  1. Enhances the flavor value of the bars.
  2. It lets you explore which flavors you like best (and how much of each).
  3. It allows you to practice making different batches

Note: Practice makes perfect.

Your first homemade batch likely won’t taste as good as your tenth.

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Storing Pemmican For The Long Haul

So, let’s say you’ve successfully made a ton of incredibly delicious bars. Now what?

Storage! Proper storage is crucial to make sure it lasts for a very long time.

It can “go bad” relatively quickly if stored incorrectly and carelessly.

However, it can last for decades when stored with care and precision.

One truth about food and food storage is this:

Food poisoning sucks and can be dangerous.

If you’re ever in a survival situation with nothing to eat but the food you stored years ago, you better pray you stored it correctly.

Getting food poisoning during a survival situation is like signing your death warrant.

First, you must use airtight containers.

Vacuum-sealing these protein bars in plastic bags is highly recommended.

Vacuum sealing ensures the highest quality storage by removing as much oxygen as possible.

But zip locks and Tupperware can also work well.

Mold needs only a few key ingredients to grow.

One of them being oxygen.

So by eliminating the oxygen, you remove the potential for mold growth.

Your storage location must be cool, dark, and temperature controlled.

Light and heat will negatively affect your stockpile.

Basements and pantries will work, but my favorite is an underground food storage facility.

Make sure to store it off the ground; this keeps it away from moisture and hungry critters.

↓ What Does 3-Year-Old Pemmican Taste Like?

Reasons to Master The Art Of Pemmican

It’s a good life skill to have.

It’s functional resilient knowledge.

It’s all about self-reliance.

No matter what the world throws at you, you’ll know how to make more and can rely on it over long periods.

It’s lightweight and easily transportable; you can make it anywhere with relatively few ingredients.

You do not have to use it for emergencies only, either.

It’s a great snack for all sorts of outdoor adventures:

  • Hunting Trips
  • Backpacking Trips
  • Fishing Expeditions
  • Mountain Biking
  • Day Hiking
  • Camping
  • Road Tripping
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Etc.

No matter what you are doing – if it’s athletic, it’s a great snack to keep you going.

There are also economic benefits to making some.

First, you can start selling it if you get great at it.

Who knows, maybe you’ll break into the market as the world’s finest pemmican chef.

But also, if IT does hit the fan, this food will become a valuable currency for bartering.

People will want them, that is for sure.

So if you have a way to make them yourself, you could corner the post-economic market for protein.

It would be like minting your own money right at home.

The Lost Ways – A Tutorial Guide

The Lost Ways website has an awesome step-by-step “how to make Pemmican video.”

While a written guide is important and helpful to many people, watching a video guide is even better.

They cover a few things I did not and demonstrate how to make your own:

↓ Making Pemmican – Step-by-Step Guide

Lost Ways Video Image Number 2

Watching how someone else does it is helpful, even if you’ve made it before.

You might learn a few tricks you did not know prior.

For novices, I would highly recommend watching the video.

The video details how much meat to use, how much fat you need, and what else to add to your recipe.

He makes it all in his kitchen, which is good to see.

You don’t need a meat workshop or drying facility to make tasty protein bars.

All you need is the will!

With everyday kitchen tools, he takes us through the entire process.

If any of the instructions in this article were confusing, watch the video above!

Plus, they go a little deeper into the history and culture of this superfood.

So if you want to know more about how the Native Americans made pemmican, this video is for you.

The Final Word

I will say it bluntly and not mince words – pemmican is one of the best survival foods.

Let’s recap:

  • If stored and made properly, it can last for up to 50 years and still be fresh and tasty
  • It provides boatloads of protein and fat energy, which will burn long and last you all-day
  • You can make it from a large variety of wild game
  • It’s lightweight and easily packable and transportable
  • You can make it cheap, and it requires very few ingredients
  • It’s incredibly easy to make and can be done in your kitchen right at home

Any survival food cache without a supply of pemmican is incomplete.

It’s a useful and efficient food; every survivalist should scramble to get their hands on some (or better yet, make some).

If you get a good supply at the ready, you’ll be ready for survival situations and food shortages – no matter what.

Give a man a pemmican bar, and he has the energy for the day.

Give a man a recipe; he has energy for life.

Prepare, Adapt & Overcome,

  • Cofounder Of &
  • Born & Raised On A Rural Farm In The Midwest
  • Mechanical Engineering Grad From A Major University
  • Engineer With A Major Food Manufacturing Company
  • 10+ Years Researching, Writing, & Teaching Preparedness
  • Mission: Help Folks Stop Living A Life Fragile To The Future
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