Pemmican is a delicious and energizing food for the trail. Today you might consider it a Jerky dessert. This treat takes up little space, provides energy, and is easy to make.
Native peoples made Pemmican from what they had. Much of what became Pemmican was added after they made a simple Jerky. Dried, smoked, wild game meat was salted and dried. They would also add sugar, pepper, if they had it. The spices discouraged insects and added some flavor. Strips of meat were hung from willow branch racks and dried in the sun. A smokey fire would burn underneath. The idea was not to cook the meat but to dehydrate it thoroughly.
Some of the jerky would become dry and brittle. This meat could be pounded into a meal. For each pound of jerky meal, they would add a couple ounces of fruit and sugar. Brown sugar or molasses would do if it was available. Once the mixture is well blended, add melted suet to the mix and stir thoroughly. When the suet hardens and cools, you have a cookie of Pemmican.
There are many variations on this recipe. Seeds and nuts could also be pounded and mixed into the pemmican. Wild cherries, berries, sunflower seeds. Apples, plums, and persimmons were also good ingredients. Dried fish was also an option. If they had cornmeal or flour, that too could be added in. Dried tubers and roots were also used.
The Pemmican was stored in sacks until needed. They could be eaten as a cookie or bar. You could also make them into a warm soup. Even if the Pemmican crumbled, it could be added to some water and heated into a soup. This was also a great item for trade.
Pemmican is an all-purpose survival food. The more fruit and sweetness in the cookie, the more of a treat it would be. In a pinch, it was also fed to horses. Native people mainly targeted deer and buffalo. Elk and bear were also great meats to make jerky. Not much would go to waste.
Making it today is much easier. You can form the bars into loaf or cupcake pans. Now you have aa more appealing Superfood.
Many cowboys survived by having a saddlebag full of jerky and pemmican.
Hit the trail with a sack full of Pemmican!