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Why doesn't pemmican turn rancid?

by (337)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:13 PM
Created May 18, 2010 at 7:12 PM

When you make beef jerky, everyone always says it's important to use lean meat so it doesn't turn rancid during storage. But then to make pemmican, you take the lean beef jerky and mix it with tons of fat.

So why does the pemmican last so long without turning rancid? Does it have something to do with the fact that the fat you're mixing in has been rendered?

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78417 · May 18, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Dehydration doesn't remove all the water from fat, as far as I know. There is still some trapped inside.

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337 · May 18, 2010 at 7:59 PM

So if it's just because the rendered fat doesn't have any water in it, why can't you simply dehydrate a fatty cut of meat in the first place?

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7821 · May 18, 2010 at 7:34 PM

By rendering the fat, you remove all the water and protein. If you are rendering suet, you are left with a very high saturated fat tallow. Saturated fat is pretty stable stuff. If you protect rendered suet from light and water, it should stay edible for years.

Rancidity occurs three basic ways: via oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids (you avoid this by having a high saturated fat mix to start out with), via reactions with water, and via microbial digestion. Pemmican avoids all of those through rendering the fat, thoroughly dehydrating the meat and hopefully being stored in a waterproof container.

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78417 · May 18, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Yes, the rendered fat should have all water removed, and as far as I know, that makes all the difference.

As an aside, I keep the fat on jerky when I make it. It is delicious and one of my home made jerky batches lasts 2-3 days. I store it in the fridge

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