Leda Meredith has been preserving food since she was a child at her great-grandmother’s side, and she covers all aspects of the many styles of food preservation in her book Preserving Everything (The Countryman Press, 2014). In this excerpt from chapter 11, “Preserving in Oil, Butter, and Other Fats,” she provides a recipe for making pemmican bars from rendered fat, dehydrated meat, and other ingredients of the user’s choice.
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PemmicanPemmican is a concentrated, high-energy, and high-protein snack food that will keep for many months if stored in a cool place. Pemmican is a Cree word that means “rendered fat.” The fat you use can be saved bacon drippings, rendered chicken fat, purchased or homemade beef suet, or any other animal fat.
- 2 pounds lean ground meat (beef, turkey, venison, etc.)
- 1–2 cups rendered fat (suet, bacon fat, etc.)
- 3 cups finely chopped dried fruit
- ¼ cup honey (optional)
- ¼ cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1. Spread out the ground meat on parchment paper either on the racks of a dehydrator or on a baking sheet. Dry at 180°F overnight or for about 8 hours. You want the meat to be crispy-dry for pemmican, not chewy as for jerky.
2. Pulverize the meat until it is almost a powder. You can use a mortar and pestle, but feel free to take advantage of a blender or food processor to do the job.
3. Melt the fat over medium-low heat in a small pot.
4. Combine the meat powder, chopped dried fruit, and the honey and nuts (if using). Add the liquefied fat a little bit at a time, working in each addition with your clean hands. Keep adding fat until the pemmican holds together when you squeeze a small handful of it. Use only as much fat as necessary to hold the mixture together.
5. Put the pemmican onto a dish or tray and pat it out until it’s in a layer about ½ inch thick. Chill it in the refrigerator or another cool place until it is solid enough to cut into bars that are about 4 inches long and 1 or 2 inches wide.
6. Wrap the pemmican pieces individually in waxed or parchment paper and store in the refrigerator or another cool place.
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Reprinted with permission from Preserving Everything by Leda Meredith and published by The Countryman Press, 2014. Buy this book from our store: Preserving Everything.