Pemmican, the Ultimate Hunter's Snack
If we could travel back in time and check the travel packs for just about every Native American or early western explorer, we would most likely find a pemmican mixture of some sort. What is pemmican and what made it so popular? Pemmican is just about the perfect food. A mixture of shredded dried meat and rendered fat, it's high in protein and fat, lightweight, and keeps just short of forever.
If pemmican has a drawback, it might be that the original mixture was sort of bland and not necessarily appetizing. When your main concern is just staying alive another day, the flavor of the food you carried took a back seat to flavor.
Today's hunter is different, though, we like our snacks to taste good. Luckily, with the addition of a few staples to the fat/meat mixture, we can transform pemmican into a snack everyone will love, even kids.
For ceremonies and special occasions, Native Americans would sometimes add dried fruit, honey, and even nuts to the mixture to sweeten it up. We do the same with dried cherries and a peanut/raisin snack mix. Avoid snack mixes with candy, or at least pick the candy out and munch on it while you make the pemmican.
Store your pemmican in zip-style plastic bags or vacuum sealed. Stick it in the freezer and pull out a pack in the morning before you leave the house. When your stomach starts to rumble, you'll be glad you did.
*A note on fat: You might be tempted to skip out on the fat for the mixture. With the dried fruit and nuts, you can get away with it and still have a great snack. But it won't be pemmican. The fat was in there for the extra calories. If you spend the day hunting hard, be it chasing that longbeard that always seems to be just over the next ridge or hiking box canyons in search of a tall-tined mule deer, that extra energy boost will be a welcome addition.
You can use whatever fat you want, buffalo tallow is traditional, but beef, duck, bear fat will work. Warm it up to a liquid state before stirring it into the pemmican.
8 ounces jerky of choice
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup raisin/peanut trail mix (no candy)
1/2 cup rendered fat (duck fat, lard, bear fat, beef tallow)
2 tablespoons honey
Pulverize the jerky in the food processor, then pour into a large bowl. Add the dried cherries and trail mix to the food processor and process until well blended and formed into a sticky mass.
Spread the mixture out onto an oiled sheet pan and flatten with a roller. Chill the mixture for one hour in the freezer. Use a pizza cutter to cut the mixture into strips.
Store in zip-style bags or vacuum seal. Keep the pemmican in the freezer until ready for use.