Found in this comprehensive work aimed at serious travellers, explorers and survivalists - a letter about pemmican. The book is a two volume work, seemingly not transcribed at Google books, although it went through many editions: Hints to travellers: Organisation and equipment, scientific observations, health, sickness and injury. Edward Ayearst Reeves. (Royal Geographical Society, London, 1938.)
The typed letter headed What is pemmican? was a response to 'Questions & Answers' at the magazine Geographical of September 1998. It was sent in by one Alan Gurney from the Isle of Islay.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820), the first European to cross the full width of North America, described pemmican as the food used by North American Indians on their travels. It was made from dried and pounded caribou meat mixed with an equal proportion of melted caribou fat. The resulting mixture was then packed into bags, eaten, uncooked, on the march. This high calorie convenience food was adopted by the North American fur traders on their long cross country travels. Pemmican -- made from beef rather than caribou -- heated in a Nansen cooked former the famous "hoosh" of Arctic and Antarctic explorers. The Bovril company made a man-pemmican (about half protein and half fat) and a dog pemmican (two thirds protein and a third fat). JD Beauvais of Copenhagen made two mixtures. The "Knud Rasmussen" containing meat, rice, vegetable and fat, packed into tins. The Amundsen containing dried meat powder, vegetables and fat, all pressed into cakes and wrapped in foil. As to taste, Mackenzie said that "time reconciles it to the palate," and Gino Watkins said that "it kept the body twitching but not the soul".
The 19th century interest in Arctic exploration led pemmican to be used as a verb meaning compressed or condensed. A century ago the Pall Mall Gazette wrote that "the modern man is but rarely inclined to read his history in many volumes. He much prefers it to be pemmicanised. …( This is a pemmicaned letter on pemmican.)
Hints to Travellers has this to say about this biltong like food:
Recent British practice restricts the name pemmican to its original meaning of dried beef and fat. Shackleton's pemmican, designed for him by Colonel Beveridge, R.A.M.C., was more nearly a complete food. The day ration of 17oz. contained 3 of beef power, 1 of Glydin (84 per cent. protein), 8 of lard, 4 of oatmeal, and 1 of sugar. It was made up in two slightly different kinds, to give a breakfast ration of 8oz. and a supper ration of 9oz. with an extra ounce of lard. The firm J. D. Beauvais of Copenhagen make up two mixtures which they call pemmican: the Type Knud Rasmussen, of meat, rice, vegetables, and fat, packed in tins; and the Type Amundsen, of fried meat powder, fat, and vegetables, pressed into cakes and packed into foil. The British pemmican made by Messrs. Bovril Ltd. is of two kinds: man-pemmican with 45 percent protein and 43 percent fat, and dog-pemmican with 65 percent protein and 28 percent fat. All the later rations shown in the diagram are Bovril man-pemmican.
On the Bristish Graham Land Expedition 1934-7 the daily sledging ration was: Bovril pemmican, 5.6oz; Blue Band margarine, 5.6; Glaxo full-cream milk powder, 1.6; Rowntrees's mil chocolate, 2.4; Rowntree's cocoa powder: no milk, 0.8; Harvest pea-flour, 1.6; Quaker oats, 2.0, Plasmon sledging biscuit, 2.7; Tate and Lyle's cure sugar, 3.2; Medical dried years (Distiller's Co.), o.4; Califorange, one dessert-spoonful; Adexolin (Glaxo Laboratories), one capsule; total, 25.9oz. Calories, 4027.
The emergency ration carried in the aeroplane was: pemmican, margarine, and biscuit, 4oz. each, chocolate 3oz., Adexolin one capsule. Calories, 2595. This ration was designed to keep a man in working condition for one month.