If you hope to survive the apocalypse, you need good food to fuel you. Preferably, it’s something that’s easy to carry, won’t spoil quickly, doesn’t require refrigeration, and chock-a-block full of nutrients. If it tastes good, too, that’s a BONUS!
For your consideration, I suggest pemmican. It’s easy to prepare, hearty, durable, and delici— no. I’m not going to lie. Once upon a civilized time, I was a vegetarian, and pemmican wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But here at the end of the world, you can’t be picky. And with a pocketful of pemmican, you know you’ll always have something to stave off the hunger pangs.
Historically, pemmican was made by the Cree people of northern Canada, then adopted by the French fur traders who crossed the vast wilderness in search of beavers.* It was used by Arctic and Antarctica explorers, to feed both humans and dogs, because it’s easy to pack and (if it’s made properly) will keep for decades.
Here’s how you make it:
1. Meat. Take your best beef, moose, venison, bison, elk, whatever red meat you have on hand. Cut off all the fat and slice the meat thinly, then place the strips on drying racks in the full sunshine or over a smoky fire. Dry the strips until they’re so dry, they crack if you bend them. Mmmmm, cracky meat!
2. Grind the meat.** With a mortar and pestle or a meat grinder, turn your strips of dried flesh into a powder. This can take a while.
3. Melt the fat. In a big pot, render down the fat slowly, then strain to remove any bits or chunks.
4. Add berries to the meat dust. If you’re adding any blueberries, saskatoon berries, raspberries, etc. – fresh or dried – to your pemmican, this is where you do it. You can also sprinkle in a bit of salt to taste.
5. Mix Wet and Dry. Stir the powder into the rendered fat. If you want it sweeter, you can also add a bit of honey or maple syrup.
6. Let it set. Form balls with the mixture and let it harden. Once they’re firm, you can put them in an airtight container and keep them in a dark place (like the bottom of your rucksack) and take them out to nibble on when you get hungry. Hmmmm… firm balls in a dark place***….
And that’s about it! Super easy to make, packed with protein. Make sure the ratio of meat to berries to fat is about 1:1:1, and you’ll have yourself a healthy snack that lasts for ages, even if it does look a little bit like a pile of dried bear dung. It’ll give you lots of energy to run from zombies, and it’s easily sharable with friends you meet as you traverse the wastelands.
*not nearly as sexy as it sounds.
** also, not as sexy as it sounds.
*** omg I never realized Canadian cuisine could be so suggestive!
Katemandi here: I can’t say enough about pantries! For the end times you need food. Sure, you might be out hunting in the woods for some critters or foraging in the underbrush for mushrooms and other edibles, but stocking up your pantry ahead of the collapse is just good sense.
Of course you need food that will last a while. Perishables are useless! Think dry dry dry. You’ll be adding water of course in most cases, of course. If you don’t have water — well, honey, I got news for you: you won’t be surviving. So think powders, jerky, dried grains and nuts. Salt! In the medieval and ancient worlds, it was a precious as gold. Not just for flavour but for its preservative qualities.
Which brings me to another point: spices! You don’t have to belong to House Atreides to recognise the importance of spice! You’re going to be eating a lot of bland food that’s been reconstituted. You’ll be grateful for those spices. The good news is that spices keep for a long time if they’re completely dried and well sealed.
Speaking of sealing: have you learned canning yet? The techniques for storing delicious fruit in jams, jellies and preserves is not to be overlooked. You can even can meat, my friend Mary tells me (I got these snaps at her fabulous home at Universal Pathways). The skills are out there: learn them before you need them. You don’t want to poison your crew with poor pantry skills. Be safe, be delicious.