Letter Re: Grandpappy’s Pemmican Recipe – A Native American Indian Survival Food

I must say that I do not recommend the gentleman’s pemmican recipe. Unless he adds sodium nitrite and brines the meat, sickness can occur. From the USDA: “Salmonella not only survives drying but also becomes more heat resistant with drying and is more of an issue in non-fermented dried meats, such as jerky, and whole meat cuts, such as dried hams.
Starter cultures are generally not used in the production of jerky. Microbial hazards include Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, S. aureus, and, for beef and venison jerky, E. coli O157:H7. If the product receives inadequate lethality treatment and is insufficiently dried, S. aureus is a potential hazard, since it can grow at lower water activities than most pathogens.”Regards, – Jeff

JWR Replies: I agree that salt brining is appropriate before drying meat. Otherwise, Grandpappy’s recipe is correct and quite useful, as stated. One good brining method is described at the Walton Feed web site. FWIW, in my opinion, nitrates and nitrites are overused in American processed foods, and in high concentrations they could have some negative long term health effects. I much prefer brining.

I just added a note to Grandpappy’s original post, recommending thorough salt brining.