Pemmican is a mix of dried meat, tallow (which is like lard, animal fat) and cranberries.
What is Pemmican?
A food that was important to the Indigenous diet in North America because it was high in calories (energy) and easy to store and transport.
As the European settlers arrived, it became an important source of food for them as well.
Dried Meat – The meat was from whatever animal was available; deer, elk, bison and moose were most common.
Fat – The fat used in pemmican was also rendered from the large game that the Indigenous tribes commonly hunted.
Cranberries – Cranberries were widely used in the areas where they naturally grew which was the north eastern part of North America, Oregon and a few smaller patches on the continent. Tribes in different regions would use whatever fruit they had on hand like grapes, blueberries etc.
The 2 main ingredients in pemmican are there for good reason. Meat gives much in terms of nutrition and fat is energy rich. Cranberries do add some needed vitamins like Vitamin C, but were mainly added to give some flavor to the dish.
Pemmican was sometimes eaten as is but not often as it didn’t reportedly taste good. In later years it was sometimes cooked in a frying pan with ingredients they could find locally like onions and potatoes, or in a stew with those same ingredients plus water and flour.
People still make pemmican today, especially among Indigenous communities. But, like all other foods that are becoming trendy today, it is being spiced up, creatively re-made and is available in so many varieties to create that cool, hip, wow factor.
Some of my favorites are:
- Bison Banana Blast: Buffalo meat, banana and yummy goodness.
- Settler Scurvy Saver: With extra servings of cranberries to make sure your teeth stay put.
- The Vegan Sampler: A handful of berries in a bowl.
- Keto Kocktail: A serving of 4 types of lard in a bowl. Comes with HP sauce so you can stomach it.
- Chief Chimichanga: The alpha of all pemmican, only available in Texas.
Hope this helps.
Trivia: “When is national Eat a Cranberry Day?”