Pemmican is a trail food with a high energy content. It contains a mixture of meat, fat and various other ingredients. Pemmican originated with the North American indigenous people, who mixed ground dried meat with fat and dried berries to make a food both long-lasting and high in energy.

As polar explorers and the military became aware of pemmican, it became a central part of provisioning expeditions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Roald Amundsen used it on all his expeditions.

On the Gjøa expedition, they used pemmican consisting of 50% beef fat and 50% horsemeat, which was dried, crushed and mixed together. In the book about the expedition, Amundsen later wrote: “Pemmican tastes excellent, takes up little space and can be eaten raw, fried or cooked. Especially as provisions on a sledge expedition, it is invaluable”. 📜

During the Fram expedition and the sledge journey to the South Pole, Amundsen used a pemmican with added oatmeal and peas. This provided more fibre and made the pemmican more nutritious. In addition, the dogs had their own pemmican with fishmeal and more fat. The rations for the men during the South Pole journey were originally 350 grams but later increased to 450 grams, which provided around 5000 calories. The pemmican was cooked as a stew mixed with hot water.

On the flight to 88 degrees north in 1925, Amundsen took pemmican from De danske Vin & Konservesfabrikker. The ration during the expedition was to be 400 grams of pemmican per man per day but was reduced during their unplanned stay on the ice.


Dry meat at a low temperature and grind it to a powder. Do the same with vegetables and mix. If desired, other ingredients such as oatmeal, peas, berries can also be ground and added to the mixture. Stir everything in liquid fat and pour it into moulds. Once the mixture has set, it can either be enjoyed directly, mixed in hot water and served as a stew, or packed in vacuum bags for a later feast.

Pemmican from the flight to 88 degrees north in 1925. Photo: National Library of Norway.