What is Pemmican (And Why Campers Should Know)?

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What is Pemmican (And Why Campers Should Know)?

Pemmican is a centuries-old beef jerky-style survival food, and we think RVers should take notice of this nutritionally dense snack.

We’re taking a closer look at pemmican, including where it originated, how to prepare it, and why it’s a great snack for campers to keep on hand.

Let’s get into it. 

What Is Pemmican? 

Pemmican is a meat and fat mixture made from a variety of meats like wild game. It’s a densely packed mixture of fat and protein and has an insanely long shelf life. It’s a great way to prepare any leftover game meat or groceries, and it’s perfect if there’s a little bit of prepper in you. 

Pemmican was a staple food for many indigenous tribes. They’ve been using this method of preserving meat for centuries. European fur traders adopted it as they traveled across the Americas, and it’s regaining popularity today.

You can make pemmican from beef, deer, fish, elk, bison, and more.

Close up on meat pemmican.
Most people think pemmican tastes like a greasy beef jerky.

What Does Pemmican Taste Like? 

Although it depends on the recipe, pemmican typically tastes like greasy beef jerky.

You can make pemmican in several different ways, including with honey and dehydrated berries. Doing so will change the flavor. But in essence, this survival food is very similar to beef jerky. 

How Long Will Pemmican Last? 

When properly prepared, pemmican can last as long as five years. If you prepare pemmican properly and vacuum seal it, it can last a century or longer. Pemmican is the “original survival food.” It can last for years and contains fats, protein, salt, and sugar. 

Pro Tip: Making pemmican can be super helpful and key to survival when camping in the wilderness. Read more to find out What Does Backcountry Camping Mean?

Friends sitting around campfire making food.
Pemmican can last for years if stored correctly, making it an excellent recipe to make before a long camping trip in the wild.

How Do You Make Pemmican? 

Making pemmican is an involved process, but it pays off in the long run. 

First, you need to separate all the fat from your meat, but don’t throw it out. Lean meat works best for pemmican. Slice the meat into thin strips and fully dehydrate it. 

While your meat is dehydrating, you can render the fat. To render the fat, simmer it in a pot on low heat until it stops bubbling. Then strain it to remove any solid pieces. Once your meat is fully dehydrated, grind it into a powder using a grinder or mortar and pestle. If you choose to add other ingredients, you have to dehydrate and grind them also.

After grinding up your ingredients, put them in a bowl and slowly pour the warm, rendered fat over them. Do this step slowly so that you don’t end up with a runny mixture. After the powder absorbs the fat, allow it to cool and harden. You can then separate it into servings, wrap it up, and store it.

5 Reasons Campers Should Have Pemmican Around

Pemmican is an awesome food, and not just for preppers. It’s a great way to prepare leftover meat. Let’s see why.

1. It’s Excellent for Survival Situations 

Pemmican is a superfood and great for survival situations. This preserved meat helped settlers and Indigenous peoples make it through long, harsh winters. It lasts forever and stores easily.

2. It’s Highly Nutritious

Pemmican is a very nutritionally dense food. In one 2.2-ounce serving of pemmican, you’ll get about 290 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein. There are very few carbs unless you prepare it with berries.

Overhead image of dehydrated meat.
Pemmican is a dehydrated meat and fat mixture that can last for years and provide much-needed nutrients when in a survival setting,

3. You Don’t Need to Refrigerate It 

This type of preserved meat requires zero refrigeration. That’s what makes it so great for survival situations. It’s also a great food for hunting, camping, and backpacking. 

Pro Tip: If you’ve never heard of pemmican, you’ve probably heard of SPAM. This meat also requires no refrigeration, but What Is SPAM Made Of? 

4. You Can Take It Anywhere 

A small serving size packs a nutritious punch, and you can take it anywhere. Portions are small, and you don’t need to refrigerate them. Despite the limited storage in an RV, you shouldn’t have trouble keeping some around.

5. It Lasts a Long Time 

Pemmican can last an incredibly long time. When properly prepared and stored, you can safely eat it for years. If you’re a hunter, it’s a perfect way to prepare extra game meat that your family can’t eat immediately. 

Will You Make Pemmican a New RV Food Staple? 

Pemmican isn’t just survival food. It’s seeing a renaissance today for a good reason. Even if you don’t eat it every day, it’s great to keep on hand for (hopefully unlikely) survival situations. Is the “original survival food” something you’d eat while traveling around in your RV?

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