Traditional Cree Pemmican A Sustenance Powerhouse

Today’s recipe comes from The Sacred Cookbook, by Nick Polizzi of the documentary, “The Sacred Science.” It’s a cookbook based on traditional health-nurturing recipes. So the recipe I chose to highlight is one that, as a hiker, I been wanting to make for some time: Cree Pemmican!

Pemmican was created by Native Americans and became popular among European explorers of the New World because it was an easy to carry food that was highly nutritious and could come in handy as emergency rations.

The word pemmican (pimikan in Cree) is a combination of the Cree root word pime, for fat. So Pemmican roughly means to render fat as rendering the fat is an essential part of the process when making it from scratch. Traditional variations of wild game such as, bison, moose, deer, were common depending on the region. You could definitely use beef or turkey as well. In fact it seems like any good smoked or dried jerky product will serve the purpose whether it be fish, fowl or mammal.

This is the first time I made this recipe and I’m giving it a big thumbs up. I made a few slight tweaks by using dried cranberries and some Alaskan caribou jerky that some friends had given us. This is a great on the go snack that should keep you energized for a while.

As with any recipe there is usually room for experimenting. For example, the next time I make a batch I may use just a tad more nuts than I did this time around. I would also use unsweetened cranberries, as there will be plenty of sweetness from the dates and the honey.

Anyway, below is the recipe as it appears in the Sacred Cookbook with just a few minor tweaks (cranberries instead of raisins, and caribou jerky). Enjoy and let me know how it turns out.


1 cup dates

2 cups smoked or dried buffalo, turkey or caribou (or 1 ½ tofu jerky for vegans)

1 cup dried cranberries — preferably unsweetened (recipe in the Sacred Cookbook calls for 1 cup raisins)

1/4 cup wild raw honey (or as much as you need to bind the mixture together)

1 cup walnuts


  • Put all ingredients in a food processor (a large mortar and pestle would be an ideal alternative). Begin grinding the ingredients together on medium speed setting, adding honey little by little.
  • Once the mixture is fully mashed, the consistency will resemble an energy bar. Scoop the contents onto a large pan, flatten with a spatula or rolling pin, and slice into bars with a knife.
  • Refrigerate for 5 hours. Remove bars from pan and serve. When prepared correctly pemmican will keep for weeks without any further refrigeration.