Pemmican forms the principal product of the summer buffalo bunt, when, to preserve from decay the large quantities taken, some artificial process is necessary. A considerable amount is also made in the earlier part of the autumn hunt, though the major part of the product of this chase is preserved by frost in a fresh condition. 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 flakey 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 caldron 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 100 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 North, 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 mold, 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 [person] engaged in hunting it down.
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