Pemmican

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by athenaeus, Mar 8, 2002.

  1. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    I am currently reading a book about the History of Food Preservation ( VERY interesting book) and a whole chapter of this book is dedicated to Pemmican.

    It seems that this preserved food played a very important role to the History of USA.

    According to the author Pemmican is still consumed by travellers or lovers of camping.

    I wonder if anybody has tasted Pemmican.
    Do the contemporary Americans consider pemmican as part of their culinary tradition?

    :)

    The book :
    Sue Shephard,Pickled,Potted and Canned. The story of Food preserving, Headline 2000

    Sue Sheppard is also the co-author of United Tastes of America.
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Can't say I've ever tasted pemmican,

    I would be curious to know if the native Americans still make this, and with which meats...venison, buffalo?
    cc
     
  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Pemmican is a mixture of dried meat, rendered fat, and usually dried berries and nuts. It was used a food staple by American Indians, usually as traveling food or as a way to preserve meat in times of abundance.

    Ask the average American today what pemmican is and you will probably get a blank stare from them. Even fewer people have tried it. Many are scared off by the ingredients. I, myself, have never tried it, but my brother, an avid outdoorsman, makes it every once in awhile to carry with him while dogsledding or hiking, or trailblazing. Though, it is not widely known about, there are many hardcore campers & hikers who prepare it for their trips, and many people involved in American history re-enactments make it, to keep the tradition alive. There are many websites devoted to pemmican recipes and many, many more that either mention or disscuss it's role in American history, both pre & post European colonization.
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Cape chef, according to my brother, today it is usually made with beef. Indians usually made it out of Venison, Elk, Caribou, and sometimes buffalo. Rarely was it made out of bear, as, I guess, bear fat is quite pungnent in flavor. Of course, back then you used what you had, and never let anything go to waste, so I imagine that bear pemmican was made also.
     
  5. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Hi, Athenaeus - Hmmm - contemporary Americans eating pemmican - I can't really picture too many Wall Street executives chowing down on pemmican while making all those stock trades!

    However, as Pete said, it still does remain a valuable food source for hikers, climbers, and all those wild, wild west folks.

    Pemmican is a jazzed up version of 'jerky', jerky being just plain dried seasoned meat, and actually more people probably eat 'jerky' than pemmican - otherwise they wouldn't have all those boxes of it right at the checkout counters of so many 7-11's!

    It can be made of almost any red meat, as Pete said; the Native Americans thought beaver was quite tasty, also. I'm sure they probably still make it, but probably more on ceremonial occasions, and probably more made and eaten by the older folk. Most NA diets now, sadly, are little more than cheap carbs and protein that contribute to a lot of the health problems of the population. Sad, but true.
     
  6. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Commercially made Pemmican bars are made and available in California. They now consist of grain + fruit. Back in the 1800's Indians and miners consumed them - the latter packing several pounds of it on their mules and packhorses to provide sustenance during the long winter months isolated in the mountains and deserts during prospecting activities.

    I've heard that the indian word Pemmican translates into beaver meat.
     
  7. marmalady

    marmalady

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    How can they call it 'pemmican' if it has no meat?!!!
     
  8. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Forgive the omission but the modern bars contain nut meats, too!
    Truth in advertisement, look at the spelling of FROOT LOOPS. Were the name spelled FRUIT..., then law requires that it contain real fruit which the cereal doesn't. But, let's no go off onto a tangent.

    I really don't know how the manufacturer circumvents including meat in the bars.
     
  9. risa

    risa

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    I had pemmican when I was about 10 years old; unfortunately, I don't remember what it was like. We had some as part of a Social Studies class. When I was growing up in Canada, we spent many classes learning about First Nations of Canada. There were several First Nation bands in the area we lived in and they still make and eat pemmican.
     
  10. chrose

    chrose

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    Pemmican can be pretty tasty sort of like hard mincemeat. Plaenty to go around in Alaska. Like jerky but more filling and healthier for you in a sense. When you're out in the very cold it really helps the body and when you're that cold, it actually tastes pretty darn good!
    Of course I'm sure it tasted a lot different 100 years ago even with the same basic ingredients.
     
  11. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Just saw "pemmican" in the store the other day, hanging out with all the other energy bars. This stuff wasn't even close to what pemmican is suppose to be. This stuff was like a dense "cake' or something. It was made with all sorts of stuff like soy, and I think whole wheat flour. But not ground up meat, no fat used to bind it, or if there was it was some veg. based "fat substitute". Oh, but hey, it did have nuts and dried fruit in it. Guess it must be pemmican!!
     
  12. ziggy

    ziggy

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    Spent last week in Flagstaff and up on the Navajo and Hopi reservations...while up there bought a beautiful cookbook - Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs.

    There are a couple Pemmican recipes in here from different parts of the continent. I can't remember what was decided about posting recipes so if anyone is interested in trying these send me a message and if it's OK I'll share the recipes with you...
     
  13. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Pete - Sigh. What was that discussion a while ago about 'authenticity of recipes'?!

    Ziggy - I'd love to see those recipes!