The First Nation’s Super Food
What was it?
Why is it a
‘super food’
• Amazing source of
calories (energy!)
• Protein
• Vitamins
• Minerals
• Keeps without
How does it
last so long?
Historical Importance
• Culturally significant to First nations and Metis people, it was an
important part of their diet for many hundreds of years.
• Extremely important for the European settlers to help them survive the
harsh Canadian winters, it could be eaten ‘as is’ or dropped into boiling
water for a quick and hearty soup
• Used as currency during the fur trade. Traded in a 90 pound bag called
a “taureau”
• Used by many explorers on expeditions because of its high nutritional
• Used during the Boer war as an emergency ration – it was assigned to
be eaten only when commanding officer allowed, after which “a man
could march for two days on it”
Use of Pemmican Today
• Pemmican is still made today
although it is not as widely used
due to other methods of food
preservation including
refrigeration, canning, and
• You can buy commercially
made pemmican packaged in
energy bars
• The packaged pemmican that
you can buy today is quite
different from the traditional
food-you can buy meat free
and even chocolate
Standardizing the recipe
• Traditionally, pemmican makers likely used the
ingredients that they had available, and in a
combination of flavours (berry choices, meat, etc.) that
they most enjoyed
• When pemmican became a trade good, expedition
leaders, surveyors and others demanded
standardisation. The Hudson’s Bay Company insisted on
Pemmican that met a standard specification: 45 kg
bags containing 50% meat and 50% lard
• Today’s market traded pemmican, such as ‘Bison
Pemmican’ sold by the Manitou Pemmican Co. owned
and operated by Curtis and Audrey Aby in
Saskatchewan follows a strict recipe to provide standard
nutritional information for those who purchase their
How do you make it?
• Pemmican is made with bison, elk, moose, caribou or
deer meat that is sliced thinly and dried over an open
• The meat is smoked until all the moisture has been
• The dried meat can then be pounded to a fine powder
with a mortar and pestle (today) or pounding stone
• The fat from the animal was rendered or ‘boiled’ down
and mixed with the dried meat
• Dried berries would also be added for extra nutrients
and for a sweet and tangy flavor
Wash your hands and all cooking materials
Using your mortar and pestle, grind up 1 or 2 strips of beef at a time
into a powder
You’ll find this is harder, and takes longer than you think! Cutting the
dried meat into smaller pieces will speed the process.
(1) 1 cup of dried meat jerky
Set powdered meat aside in mixing bowl
(2) ½ cup of lard (crisco)
Use your mortar and pestle again to grind your dried berries – much
(3) ½ cup
Pour dried berries in with your powdered meat and stir them until fully
Add lard to your sauce pot or metal beaker and heat until melted,
wear oven mitts, and stir constantly
CAUTION: do not boil the lard, or overheat the lard, as it can catch
fire if overheated. If this happens, cover the saucepot to starve the
flame of oxygen, and carefully remove from the source of heat.
Once it is melted, carefully pour half of the lard into your mixing
bowl, and mix thoroughly
Add the remaining lard by the table spoonful, until the mixture
begins to stick together – you’ll know it is ready when it can form a
small ball that doesn’t crumble apart.
Before it hardens, divide your m,ixture into small portions in the muffin
cups, or by scoring in a baking tray, and enjoy!
(7) Metal tablespoon
To store, wrap the pemmican in a double layer of wax paper and
(8) Muffin tin and muffin cups
Pemmican can last for months or even years if it is packaged
Let’s give it a try!
Our ingredients:
Our tools:
(1) 1 mortar and pestle
(2) 1 quart mixing bowl
(3) Stove or heating plate
(4) Sauce pot or metal beaker
(5) Oven mitts
(6) Stirring rod or spoon

similar documents