August 1, 1867
"Pemmican forms the principal product of the summer buffalo-hunt, when, to preserve from decay the vast quantities of meat taken, some artificial process is necessary. Each bag weighs one hundred pounds, the quantity of fat being nearly half the total weight, the whole composition forming the most solid description of food that man can make. It is the traveling provision used throughout the Fur Land."
The Great Fur Land - The Great Fall Hunt
Pemmican forms the principal product of the summer buffalo-hunt, when, to preserve from decay the vast quantities of meat taken, some artificial process is necessary. A large amount is also made in the earlier part of the autumn hunt. To manufacture pemmican the flesh of the buffalo is first cut up into large lumps, and then again into flakes or thin slices, and hung up in the sun or over the fire to dry. When it is thoroughly desiccated it is taken down, placed upon raw-hides spread out upon the prairie, and pounded or beaten sometimes by wooden flails, again between two stones, until the meat is reduced to a thick, flaky substance or pulp. Bags made of buffalo hide, with the hair on the outside, about the size of an ordinary pillow or flour-sack, say two feet long, one and a half feet wide and eight inches thick, are standing ready, and each one is half filled with the powdered meat. The tallow or fat of the buffalo, having been boiled by itself in a huge cauldron, is now poured hot into the oblong bag in which the pulverized meat has previously been placed. The contents are then stirred together until they have been thoroughly mixed; the dry pulp being soldered down into a hard solid mass by the melted fat poured over it. When full the bags are sewed up as tightly as possible, and the pemmican allowed to cool. Each bag weighs one hundred pounds, the quantity of fat being nearly half the total weight, the whole composition forming the most solid description of food that man can make. It is the traveling provision used throughout the Fur Land, where, in addition to its already specified qualifications, its great facility of transportation renders it extremely valuable. There is no risk of spoiling it, as, if ordinary care be taken to keep the bags free from mould, there is no assignable limit to the time pemmican will keep. It is estimated that, on an average, the carcasses of two buffaloes are required to make one bag of pemmican one filling the bag itself, the other supplying the wants of the wild savage engaged in hunting it down.
It is only of late years that pemmican has come into public notice as a condensed food valuable to the commissariat upon long expeditions. Hitherto it has been a provision peculiar to the Fur Land, and particularly to the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. Notwithstanding the vast annual slaughter of buffalo south of the forty-ninth parallel, no pemmican is made there; the meat being used in the fresh or green state, or in the form of jerked beef. The pemmican of the English Arctic expeditions differs from the real article in being made of beef mixed with raisins and spices, and preserved from decay by being hermetically sealed. Buffalo pemmican may be said to keep itself, requiring no spices or seasoning for its preservation, and may be kept in any vessel and under any conditions, except that of dampness, for unlimited time. It is one of the most perfect forms of condensed food known, and is excelled by no other provision in its satisfying quality. The amount of it used throughout the territory is almost incredible, as, besides the enormous quantity consumed in the company's service, it appears, when attainable, upon the table of every halfbreed in the country. So essential is it to the wants of the voyageurs, as the staple article of food upon the long voyages made in the transportation service of the company, that its manufacture is stimulated in every way by the agents of that corporation, and every available pound is bought up for its use. Until a comparatively late year, it was the only article embraced in the trade-lists for which liquor was bartered.
Another form of provision, also the product of the summer hunt and extensively used, is dried meat. In its manufacture the flesh of the buffalo undergoes the same treatment as in the preparatory stages of pemmican-making-when it has been cut into thin slices it is hung over a fire, smoked and cured. It resembles sole-leather very much in appearance. After being thoroughly dried, it is packed into bales weighing about sixty pounds each, and shipped all over the territory.