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Chapter: Pemmican Recipes: New and Old
Section: Modern Recipes
Recipe: Pemmican Recipe Manifesto

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Pemmican Recipe Manifesto
From: (Kent Multer) kent@dallas.net

This is the text of the first draft that I sent a few weeks ago, with
updates marked. Note that there are also a few new questions that came up.
Feel free to email me any additional answers or other thoughts.


* Raw red meat. Eye round roast is widely recommended.

UPDATE: Also rump steak and London broil.

* Suet: this is a particular type of beef fat. Other types will not work
correctly, so be sure you get the right stuff.

UPDATE: At least one reader has used other types of fat successfully,
although he says the shelf life may not be as long. One person suggested
that lamb fat would work, but hadn't actually tried it.

 1. Is "tallow" the same as suet, or is this a more generic term for
animal fat?
 2. Also, what about lard? Ray's recipe in the archive uses the words
"lard" and "tallow" as if they are equivalent; but in another message, he
said that lard is pork fat and will not work correctly.

* Flavorings (optional). Salt, pepper, garlic, and dried fruit or nuts are
sometimes used. One person recommended sage. If using salt, go easy on it.

UPDATE: Traditionally the dried fruit was cranberries. But commerical ones
are now high in sugar. People have recommended dried cherries.

LATE UPDATE: According to the instructions that came with my dryer, you
should use at least 1 tsp. of salt per pound of meat in order to prevent
bacteria growth.

You will need about 60% meat, 40% suet -- these measurements are by weight,
after preparation. If you have extra of either, you can save it for the
next batch.

NEW QUESTION: someone asked how you would save the extra. The meat, I
presume, can be stored at room temp. like jerky. Is the suet equally stable?


Slice and dry as you would for jerky; it must be dry enough to break rather
than bend. Break it up by hand or with a food processor. Some people like
it powdered, some prefer a more granular texture. Add the spices or other
flavorings, if any.

NEW QUESTION: Other than with a food processor or blender, how do you
grind the meat? with some kind of knife, mallet, mortar and pestle, etc.?

PREPARING ("rendering") THE SUET

This is the part of the process about which there is the most confusion.
Apparently the idea is to remove the skins or rinds, as well as any water.

UPDATE: re removing water: one person recommends actually adding some
water at first, to prevent burning. During cooking, the water settles to
the bottom and boils away. You can see the little blobs of water at the
bottom of the pan; it's done when they're gone.

Cut the suet into small chunks, and heat it in a pan over LOW heat -- don't
let it get hot enough to smoke, as it may give the pemmican a bad taste.

UPDATE: -- and have other unpleasant side effects such as adding
impurities to the food, annoying your spouse, etc.

The best explanation I found for this process was from Bob Baldwin on Oct.
30. He wrote:

>This process take a while
>and you will end up with melted fat and brown globs of stuff (it's
>not a gross as it sounds). Pour the whole works through a sieve into another
>pan (I got a large sieve at Target - it doesn't need to be giant) and
>discard the globs -- I use a coffee can. I then pu a couple of layers
>of cheese cloth in the sieve and filter the fat again. Now you have the

 1. What about removing moisture? Does it settle to the bottom of the pan,
so that it's easy to separate? Or does it just boil or evaporate away?
 2. Ray's book says to "render" the suet twice -- "render" apparently means
the whole process of heat, filter, and cool. Is twice really necessary?
(Bob doesn't think so, and the recipe in the archive doesn't call for it.)

UPDATE: another person says one rendering is enough.


Let the suet cool until it is cool enough to touch but still liquid. Pour
it onto the meat slowly and mix it in until all the meat is "just
saturated" (Ray) or "about the consistency of fudge" (Bob). Fill muffin
tins with it, or roll it out into a sheet and cut into cookie-size chunks.
When cool, it should be firm, although still a bit greasy to the touch; so
wrap it in foil, plastic, or something else that the fat won't soak
through. Properly made, it should keep for years at room temperature.