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 content 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 freezing 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 pemmican
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 product
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 fire The meat is smoked until all the moisture has been removed The dried meat can then be pounded to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle (today) or pounding stone (traditionally) 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
Let’s give it a try! Step-by-step 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. Set powdered meat aside in mixing bowl Use your mortar and pestle again to grind your dried berries – much easier! Pour dried berries in with your powdered meat and stir them until fully mixed 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! To store, wrap the pemmican in a double layer of wax paper and tinfoil Pemmican can last for months or even years if it is packaged correctly Our ingredients: (1)1 cup of dried meat jerky (2)½ cup of lard (crisco) (3)½ cup 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 (7)Metal tablespoon (8)Muffin tin and muffin cups
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