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Homemade Pemmican

Homemade Pemmican

Canada's First Energy Bar! In the Kitchen with Chef Shane Chartrand of Marrow, Progressive Indigenous Cuisine with step-by-step images. Recipe also in Feast Cookbook!
Course Snack
Cuisine Canadian Aboriginal
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 300 grams
Author Valerie Lugonja via Chef Shane Chartrand


  • 300 grams fresh Chinook Salmon (I suggest pike or moose) or or 100-125 grams dried fish or red meat
  • 300 grams fresh Saskatoon berries (or high bush cranberry or haskaps) or 60-75 grams dried berries
  • 100-150 grams rendered fat or bacon grease , room temperature, as needed
  • teaspoon salt , or more, to taste

Possible Additions:

  • freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • dried mushroom powder , to taste
  • dried herbs , to taste


Instructions for Drying the Meat:

  1. Thinly slice meat; easiest to do when partially frozen or with a razor sharp knife
  2. Place slices on parchment covered pan, not touching; dry for 20-24 hours at 170F
  3. Check and turn pan regularly; turn slices over, as needed

Instructions for Drying the Berries:

  1. Place on lined parchment covered pan; dry for 18-20 hours at 170F
  2. Check and turn pan regularly; shake berries and move around, as needed

Instructions for Rendering the Fat:

  1. Instructions here (the recipe is for rendering pork fat for pie pastry, but use beef suet and the same process which will be much faster as protein is already removed from suet
  2. If using bacon fat ,as is is so flavourful and highly desirable,, ensure it is slowly simmered at low heat so all water has evaporated from it (it should get very hard, like a lard, in the fridge)

Grinding or Pounding by Hand:

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind-pound berried to powder; more grinding than pounding for the berries (there are seeds and it will be more labour intensive than pulverizing the meat)
  2. Set aside (about 30 minutes of focused work)
  3. Place dried protein in mortar and pound-grind with pestle; more pounding than grinding for the meat
  4. Add powdered berries into powdered protein; combine well

Using a Thermomix or Food Processor to Grind Dried Ingredients:

  1. Add both berries and protein into your machine; puree until powdered

Adding the Fat:

  1. Stir the room temperature fat into the dried powdered pemmican ingredients a third at a time; test for consistency, but be sure to use the full minimum amount

Adjusting Seasonings and Adding Flavour:

  1. Add salt, as needed (it will make a lively difference, but little by little)
  2. Add optional ingredients according to palate: pepper, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, etc
  3. Taste

Storing the Pemmican:

  1. Slather flat on parchment; refrigerate and slice into portions to store in a cool space OR
  2. Dollop onto plastic wrap; form a log and chill for cut off portions for service, as desired

Trouble Shooting:

  1. If your pemmican does not solidify, you need more fat ; add more fat OR
  2. If you used bacon fat, you did not expel all of the water and you will need to start again

Serving Pemmican:

  1. Slice very thinly and serve with popped wheat berries, thinly sliced ribbons of bannock and a berry coulis (same berry that is in it) garnished with fresh herbs (echoing the herbs, if any, in it) OR
  2. Slice thinly on a cracker OR
  3. Slice thinly; fry and serve with any garnish or on a cracker

Hiking with Pemmican:

  1. Pack it well wrapped and store in the coolest place possible: experiment with how to eat it - jerky-like, boiled and mashed, fried...

Recipe Notes

The texture can be off putting to many. This is Pemmican. It is ground berries and protein with fat. The texture is gritty and pasty. Thus, a thin slice on a crunchy something enable the flavour to triumph and the texture to fade into the background. If you were starving, it would be delicious, no?