Pemmican

Buffalo Picture by George Catlin

Discover interesting facts and information about the  method of making pemmican used by the women of Native American tribes.

  • Definition and Description of Pemmican

  • The process and method of making pemmican

  • Preparing buffalo meat to create pemmican

  • Interesting facts and information about the methods used by Native American women to make pemmican

Native American Women
Native Indian Tribes Index

Pemmican
What is Pemmican? Pemmican is a nutritious, preserved food created by Native American Indians. The term Pemmican is derived from pimii, the Cree-Chippewa word for fat. Pemmican consists of a mixture of cooked, dried and shredded buffalo meat, or fish, which is combined with melted fat. The pemmican was tightly packed into a bag made of buffalo skin and used as a convenient type of long lasting food. Also refer to
Native American Indian Recipes and Native American Indian Food.

Pemmican - Cured Meat and Fish
The ability to preserve foods meant life or death the American Indian. Curing meat and fish means saving or preserving meat by using processes such as drying, salting and smoking. The following picture shows how fish was cured over an open fire. Other methods included drying meat by cutting it into strips or sheets, and drying it by hanging it on lines.

Curing Fish

Curing Fish

Cooking and Preparing Buffalo to make Pemmican
The most traditional ingredient used in making pemmican was buffalo meat. Given there were no pots available other methods were found to cook buffalo. The ingenious buffalo cooking method and process was as follows:

  • The buffalo hide was removed from the carcass

  • A bowl-shaped hole was created in the ground

  • The hole was lined with the buffalo skin

  • Water was then poured into the 'buffalo cooker' and pieces of meat added to the water

  • Large quantities of hot stones were heated in a nearby fire and dropped into the buffalo cooker

  • By this process the buffalo meat was boiled

A number of Native American tribes cooked meat by boiling in this way and the name of one tribe, the Assiniboine, means the “stone-boilers”. Boiled and dried buffalo meat was used by Native American women to make pemmican.

How to Make Pemmican - The Pemmican Recipe
Native American women used dried buffalo meat to make pemmican. How to make pemmican. The method and recipe for making pemmican was as follows:

  • The buffalo meat was first dried

  • The dried meat was heated through over a low fire, and then beaten with sticks or stones into shreds

  • Buffalo tallow was melted and the shredded meat stirred into the hot fat to create pemmican

  • The pemmican was 50 percent meat and 50 percent fat

  • Berries and dried fruit was sometimes added to the pemmican

  • The mixture was tightly packed and fastened into a bag made of buffalo skin

  • The pemmican would then cool and harden

  • Pemmican would last for over a year and was eaten dry or boiled in water

 

 

Pemmican
Pemmican is a high-energy, fast food that is easily transportable and long lasting. The Native Americans stored their supplies of pemmican in bags that were usually made of buffalo skin or deer skin. These bags were adopted by the Europeans and became known by the Americans as saddle  bags or as a parfleche by the French.

Native American bag

Native American Bag

 

 Pemmican

  • Description and definition of Pemmican

  • Cooking method for Pemmican

  • Interesting facts and info about Pemmican for kids and schools

  • Pemmican recipe

  • Fish pemmican and beef Pemmican

  • Interesting facts and information about the methods used by Native American women to make pemmican

 

Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to Native American Women. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes and the Native American Women that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures to accompany the main topic of this section - Pemmican. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a great educational resource for kids.

 

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