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Pemmican - the original energy bar

Pemmican - the original energy bar

Quote: (11-02-2018 10:20 AM)Horus Wrote:  

A couple of months ago, I made my first batch of pemmican, and I've found it so be such a wonderful and useful food that it deserves a thread here as it's only been mentioned in passing on a couple of threads about energy bars. Pemmican is the perfect food to have on hand when you're away from home for most of the day and don't want to resort to buying unhealthy food on the run. Ideally I like to prep a week's worth of meals in advance, but pemmican is an excellent back up. It keeps indefintely, so I can always keep a supply at work or in the car. And it's far superior to energy or protein bars, not only because it doesn't contain a list of questionable ingredients, but also because it is able to sustain you for much longer due to it's high fat and protein content - just a small amount keeps me going all day. For a while, I've been making beef jerky to eat on the run, and although it's a fine food, but I found that protein alone was insufficient to sustain me throughout the day.

[Image: cpendley-cooking-pemmican-2.jpg?itok=dh6NQg_7]

Pemmican has a long and fascinating history as a survival food for explorers and traders in remote areas, due to its high caloric content, low weight, and indefinite shelf life. The Indians (feathers not dots) prepared it after buffalo hunts to sustain them over the winter. It became a vital provision for American pioneers and Canadian fur traders who were away from supplies for months at a time - the pemmican trade was so important that a war was fought over its supply. Arctic and Antarctic explorers carried pemmican supplies during their expeditions. British soldiers carried a ration of pemmican during the Boer War which could only be consumed under orders during emergencies - it was found that soldiers could march for 36 hours on a single ration of pemmican.

Pemmican is traditionally nothing but dried meat and rendered fat. Dried berries and salt can also be added. It's extremely easy to make, and a single batch is cheap to prepare and will last a long time. This girl has made a decent video, although there is no need to add sugar, and I find that it's easier to dry the meat in a food dehydrator rather than the oven:

You need to find the leanest meat possible, since any unrendered fat will spoil. I find that topside beef is good. Cut the meat into smaller pieces than you would when making jerky, since it's difficult to process large pieces of meat into powder. You can dry the meat and berries in a food dehydrator at the same time. When it comes to adding the fat, you can render beef fat yourself, or buy prepared tallow. I've also tried lard which works well. You don't need to measure exact amounts - just add enough fat to bind the powdered meat and berries so you can form it into sheets or small balls.

And the taste? It's definitely an unusual acquired taste, and I can understand why people wouldn't enjoy it. (It's interesting reading the accounts of explorers and pioneers, writing about how much they hated pemmican, but keep in mind that they would eat almost nothing else for months at a time). But I love it, especially with the right amount of berries. With a supply of pemmican on hand, I'm never tempted to eat junk food on the run.

I don't know about Pemmican, but I know a WB when I see one.

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