Special Agent Suet Part 1: Pemmican

Pemmican is an all-natural , long-lasting energy food originally made by native Americans from wild large game, dry berries and nutmeats. Suet rendered into tallow (chemically/biologically stable at normal temperatures) serves as an important energy source and binder for all the components.

Suet is the “hard” fat from inside the body cavity of a beef animal. It’s not simply collected “trim” fat from the exterior. It’s 52 % saturated and 32 % mono saturated with a smoke point of 392 deg F. REMEMBER: NO legitimate scientific research has EVER established a causal link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease – despite what people who should know better continue to say. Suet seems hard and dry but in fact contains significant water moisture and will decay even under refrigeration.

Rendering the suet into tallow changes it’s chemical/biological stability at normal temp’s. Beef tallow is composed primarily of the saturated fats Palmitic (26%) and Stearitic (14%) as well as mono-saturated Oleic (47%) with a composite melting point of 86 to 113 deg F which provides a melt-in-the mouth sensation. The rendering process basically involves slowly heating suet (cut into small chunks) over a long period of time to drive out water. This is best/most safely done in a device with limited heat input capabilities (crockpot) or better yet a device that is thermostatically controlled (self-heated roaster). Small (1-3 pound) quantities rendered in a crockpot can be started out on “high” but must be monitored by thermometer inserted into the suet regularly to check temperature. Reduce crockpot setting to”low” when the 212 deg F “plateau” is past (most of the water evaporated) and the temp begins to climb rapidly. Stop heating when temp reaches 260-270 deg F, strain thru a SST kitchen strainer and pour into a glass or crockery vessel with removable cover to cool and store .

I based my pemmican trial on this site’s recipe #1. 

My interpretation used a 1# brick of Hay Creek Ground Round thawed and spread out (like a pizza dough) onto a roughly 16 inch diameter circle of parchment paper and oven dried for 8 hours @ 180 deg F. It sticks with unbelievable tenacity so the parchment is highly recc’d. Break the dried sheet of meat into rough chunks and food-processor mill into a granular powder. I ended up with 135 grams from the original 454 grams of beef. Place powdered beef into 2 quart mixing bowl.

Melt 200 grams of tallow (you already rendered and saved ) over a double boiler.

Hand chop (with a knife) 3/4 cup (117 grams) roasted almonds .

Measure out 1 1/2 cup(50 grams) dried cranberries (NOT Craisins which are sugar-enhanced. Even the “reduced sugar” Craisins contain 2X the sugar of an equal-weight serving of true dried cranberries)

Pour melted tallow over powdered beef while mixing with a silicone spatula. Add nuts and cranberries and mix till uniform.

Immediately plate out (pack with spatula while doing) onto smooth plate or pan and place in cool location to partially solidify. Test ability to break into chunks with knife or scraper after an hour of cooling. Store chunks in sealed plastic ziplock or rigid plasticware in refrigerator. Freeze for long-term storage.

The flavor and mouthfeel is entirely unique, subtle and becomes even more appealing with familiarity. Great trail food! Feel Good points on using grass-fed for the Omega-3′ benefit!

Where to get grass fed suet?

Ground Round ready for drying