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Real pemmican network?

Not sure if and when I’d be able to produce enough pemmican for sale here. Not sure if I want to get into it at this point. I was thinking instead of just sharing my discoveries and letting people do it on their own. The only piece of equipment you really need is a decent meat grinder and there are inexpensive, old-fashioned, hand operated models readily available though electric is very convenient. I don’t recommend trying to use any kind of food processor. You can buy an electric slicer or just use a knife. The meat can be air dried, just wait for the driest season of year in your area, usually late summer to early fall in the northern hemisphere. Dehumidifiers and space heaters may help. Native Americans used open fire to dry meat when the weather wasn’t dry enough. At this point I really don’t think an electric dehydrator is the best solution but they are pretty convenient. You can read about drying meat outdoors here. Rendering fat isn’t that hard either, you just need some pots, strainer and a stove burner OR just buy some already rendered from Fannie & Flo on Etsy!

I think the main issue that would prevent people from making their own is that they may have tried, or know of someone who did, and ended up with results that weren’t very palatable. I’ve made some very unpleasant pemmican myself. There’s a trick or 2 to making it come out nicely that are neglected in all online recipes I’ve seen. I think that situation should be easy to remedy 😉

A major obstacle with making and distributing pemmican is that for it to be truly REAL with all the traditional benefits associated with it then the meat used has to be raw. It’s almost completely dry but it’s still technically raw as it hasn’t been heat treated. Neither the USDA nor any US state agricultural department will allow the sale of a dried meat product, like jerky, that hasn’t been scientifically guaranteed to be free of pathogens like e coli, salmonella, etc, etc… From what I can tell the exclusive method used for this in this day and age is a “lethality phase” BEFORE dehydrating which involves raising the internal temperature of the meat high enough, quickly enough, and long enough while maintaining sufficient humidity to be 100% sure that any pathogenic organisms present have been killed off. This however means the meat is cooked and you loose the particular nutritional benefits of raw meat which was the main reasons that pemmican was so highly valued besides it’s shelf life and portability. From what I understand keeping the meat raw is what allowed people to subsist very well on pemmican alone for months and even years even avoiding scurvy without any fruits or vegetables!

I don’t want to make almost real pemmican. I only want the real thing for myself and I don’t want to try to pass off a fake on other people either, even if they don’t mind or don’t know any better. It may or may not be illegal to give away a raw meat product like that, even if you just want to trade or barter it locally although no one else knows you’re doing it.

Another idea is to try to find an acceptable solution for guaranteeing pathogen free pemmican that does not require cooking the meat, maybe post-production testing? This would probably require the participation of some university laboratory to get it fully worked out and approved by the powers that be. Lobbying for changes in regulations could be another approach though not something I find very personally appealing.

A public forum where interested individuals could discuss real pemmican process is what I have in mind at this point. Either on some decentralized social media platform, like steemit, or a forum right here on this website. I don’t imagine many people actually visit this site very much these days but if you’re reading this and have any ideas please feel free to post a comment. I’ll just start posting my insights here as time permits and maybe re-post them elsewhere in the future.

Feel free to quote any part or all of this post on any site as long as you provide a prominent link back to the original here on this site. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Real pemmican network?

  1. You’ve answered your question about pathogen-free pemmican already, I think. The exact details are going to require a bit of discussion with your local authorities, but I don’t think it’ll be extremely difficult.

    Heat treatment temperatures as low as in the 160F range can be used, as long as a holding time is observed. While you don’t want to “cook” the beef at this temperature, your Pemmican Secret #2 holds the answer: it’s no problem mixing “hot” fat into dry meat (where “hot” doesn’t have to be all that hot) and then holding for the required time. The only gotcha is that the meat handling before “cooking” must conform to “handling of perishable food” standards. That likely means you must dry it at refrigerated temperatures. The low relative humidity will help, though, plus you can add a fan. As a bonus, you’ll keep fatty acid oxidation to an absolute minimum.

    Now you have a fully “cooked” product. With water activity (Aw) measurements, you can likely even demonstrate that it is a shelf-stable product. I have never measured Aw on pemmican before, but I bet it’s pretty low.

    1. Well I’m not going to setup a refrigerated dehydrator but if you do let me know how it works out. I think there are many advantages to drying meat in the sun as opposed to any machine, though a sun drying machine might not be a bad idea, I’ve seen designs for those in the FAO docs.

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