Saturday, February 14, 2015

DIY Field Rations and the Science Behind Its Preparation

Pemmican, and Hardtack seem to be the default food source when you read about DIY field rations.

The science behind this food is rather basic, and we will explore other food ingredients to make new or lower cost versions of these staples.

From Wikipedia:

Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food. The word comes from the Cree word pimîhkân, which itself is derived from the word pimî, "fat, grease".[1] It was invented by the native peoples of North America.[2][3] It was widely adopted as a high-energy food by Europeans involved in the fur trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

The specific ingredients used were usually whatever was available; the meat was oftenbisonmooseelk, or deer. Fruits such as cranberries and saskatoon berries were sometimes added. Cherriescurrantschokeberries and blueberries were also used, but almost exclusively in ceremonial and wedding pemmican.[4]


I don't know about you, but reading the ingredients list makes me not want to undertake making it due to budgetary constraints.

So let's see what we can substitute for each ingredient.

Our diet consists of fats proteins and carbohydrates, along with the usual vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  However the primary mission here is to fulfill the fats proteins and carbohydrates.

Fats have double the calories per weight and volume as carbohydrates and proteins.  Fat would theoretically make the perfect compact food, except one should not live on fat alone. Pemmican recipes are heavily biased towards fats.  I would not recommend this as a long term food, but a couple weeks or even a few months subsistence on this would not have many harmful effects provided one actually used the calories consumed and was not leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Protein
Ground Beef 15% fat, broiled
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,047 kJ (250 kcal)
0 g
Starch0 g
Dietary fiber0 g
15 g
Saturated5.887 g
Monounsaturated6.662 g
Polyunsaturated0.485 g
26 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)
(4%)
0.046 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(15%)
0.176 mg
Niacin (B3)
(36%)
5.378 mg
Vitamin B6
(29%)
0.383 mg
Folate (B9)
(2%)
9 μg
Vitamin B12
(110%)
2.64 μg
Choline
(17%)
82.4 mg
Vitamin D
(1%)
7 IU
Vitamin E
(3%)
0.45 mg
Vitamin K
(1%)
1.2 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(2%)
18 mg
Iron
(20%)
2.6 mg
Magnesium
(6%)
21 mg
Manganese
(1%)
0.012 mg
Phosphorus
(28%)
198 mg
Potassium
(7%)
318 mg
Sodium
(5%)
72 mg
Zinc
(66%)
6.31 mg
Other constituents
Water58 g
Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Pork, fresh, loin, whole,
separable lean and fat,
cooked
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,013 kJ (242 kcal)
0.00 g
Sugars0.00 g
Dietary fibre0.0 g
13.92 g
Saturated5.230 g
Monounsaturated6.190 g
Polyunsaturated1.200 g
27.32 g
Tryptophan0.338 g
Threonine1.234 g
Isoleucine1.260 g
Leucine2.177 g
Lysine2.446 g
Methionine0.712 g
Cystine0.344 g
Phenylalanine1.086 g
Tyrosine0.936 g
Valine1.473 g
Arginine1.723 g
Histidine1.067 g
Alanine1.603 g
Aspartic acid2.512 g
Glutamic acid4.215 g
Glycine1.409 g
Proline1.158 g
Serine1.128 g
Vitamins
Vitamin B6
(36%)
0.464 mg
Vitamin B12
(29%)
0.70 μg
Choline
(19%)
93.9 mg
Vitamin C
(1%)
0.6 mg
Vitamin D
(9%)
53 IU
Trace metals
Calcium
(2%)
19 mg
Iron
(7%)
0.87 mg
Magnesium
(8%)
28 mg
Phosphorus
(35%)
246 mg
Potassium
(9%)
423 mg
Sodium
(4%)
62 mg
Zinc
(25%)
2.39 mg
Other constituents
Water57.87 g
Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

To talk about using meat is to explore common food preservation techniques and borrow some techniques from Asia.  

With that in mind you could use hamburger as the food ingredient.  By cooking hamburger in oil, and breaking up the meat into a fine texture, driving off the water you could prepare an acceptable ingredient.  

Hamburger contains a fair amount of cartilage, (gristle) which needs to be cooked first in water for a long time and then straining out or rinsing the gristle which becomes gelatin after cooking would be more ideal as the gelatin can impart undesired properties in the finished product.

So ideally you would want to use well cooked hamburger which is then fried.

There are other protein sources not mentioned in mainstream literature that would work just as well if not better than the traditional recipe.  

Traditional recipes are based on the "Use what you got" method so we will use what we got in the here and now. Our food ingredients are much more varied now days than 150 years ago, so we can improve on the recipes.

Contrary to Western beliefs, Chicken and Pork can be dried and preserved if it is cooked first.

One ingredient used in India is Chicken meat.  Chicken meat is diced into chunks, fried until it is dry, spices are added along with other local ingredients, and packaged into jars.  The jars are used due to the climate and the melting point of the fat, that keeps the resulting food remaining liquified in warm weather.

In China shredded pork is used.  Pork is slow cooked, then shredded, and then fried until dry. One could then powder this in the food processor and use in place of the beef. It is commonly known as pork floss.

Other proteins will work as well.   Whey powder is a very good substitute. Textured veg protein aka soy, and even powdered egg will work. Ham also will work well, puréed in the food processor, then fried until dry. Dried hard cheeses like Parmesan can also work.

Vegetable matter:

Potato, raw, with skin
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy321 kJ (77 kcal)
17.47 g
Starch15.44 g
Dietary fiber2.2 g
0.1 g
2 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)
(7%)
0.08 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(3%)
0.03 mg
Niacin (B3)
(7%)
1.05 mg
(6%)
0.296 mg
Vitamin B6
(23%)
0.295 mg
Folate (B9)
(4%)
16 μg
Vitamin C
(24%)
19.7 mg
Vitamin E
(0%)
0.01 mg
Vitamin K
(2%)
1.9 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(1%)
12 mg
Iron
(6%)
0.78 mg
Magnesium
(6%)
23 mg
Manganese
(7%)
0.153 mg
Phosphorus
(8%)
57 mg
Potassium
(9%)
421 mg
Sodium
(0%)
6 mg
Zinc
(3%)
0.29 mg
Other constituents
Water75 g

Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Peas, green, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy339 kJ (81 kcal)
14.45 g
Sugars5.67 g
Dietary fiber5.1 g
0.4 g
5.42 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(5%)
38 μg
(4%)
449 μg
2477 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(23%)
0.266 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(11%)
0.132 mg
Niacin (B3)
(14%)
2.09 mg
Vitamin B6
(13%)
0.169 mg
Folate (B9)
(16%)
65 μg
Vitamin C
(48%)
40 mg
Vitamin E
(1%)
0.13 mg
Vitamin K
(24%)
24.8 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(3%)
25 mg
Iron
(11%)
1.47 mg
Magnesium
(9%)
33 mg
Manganese
(20%)
0.41 mg
Phosphorus
(15%)
108 mg
Potassium
(5%)
244 mg
Sodium
(0%)
5 mg
Zinc
(13%)
1.24 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Native Americans used berries because it is what they had.  However one could substitute everything from banana chips, to instant mashed potatoes, to carrots, cherries, even dried tomatoes. Provided that the ingredient is prepared properly that is. 

With potatoes, carrots and other root crops, it is better to pre cook the food, then dry it, and then powder it to use it.  Banana chips are already prepared so they only need to be powdered in the food processor. Instant potato flakes are also ready to use.

Some fruits and vegetables have more complex sugars that will not be solids when dry. Cherries or cranberries for example.  These complex sugars can be used to alter the textures of the resulting product, not just the flavor.

When creating your recipe, you will have to find the balance with the ingredients to suit your palate.  Experimentation here, and documentation is crucial.  

The scientific method you learned in high school science class will come in handy here.

Fiber. One will need some fiber in the recipe.  Pure starchy foods without fiber will result in constipation.

Fats:

Standard recipes call for beef tallow.  I don't know about you, but last time I shopped in an American supermarket, I saw no tallow for sale.  Pork lard is available in some areas, but usually only in places where Mexicans live.  This is because lard has been demonized so much as a food ingredient, no one buys it anymore.  Mexicans however, use pork lard in many recipes.

So we will need a substitute.

The properties for the fat we are looking for is melting point and time to go rancid.  All non-hydrogenated fat will go rancid.  Even traditional Pemmican will go rancid unless it is kept cold or frozen.

We are not making health food here, we are making food for hard work and physical activity.

One good ingredient is Crisco or similar types of shortenings.  It meets the requirements for shelf life, and budgetary concerns. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisco

When we are looking at preserving meat and using the tallow or lard. We need to use the same technique as making ghee or clarified butter.  One could actually substitute butter instead of tallow in the ingredients list if it is prepared into ghee first.

Ghee is butter that has been heated at a moderate temp long enough to drive out all the water, and separate the  milk solids from the fats.  The US actually produces a fair amount of ghee for export. The solids are usually used as a food ingredient where one wants butter flavor without the butter fat or as a ingredient in margarine.

One simply melts the butter in a pan over low heat, boiling out the water and skimms the solids that float to the top.

When one fries food with butter, the burning or browning is not the oil. Rather the solids left in the butter are what browns or burns.  Ghee on the other hand has a extremely high smoking point and is great for deep fat frying.

Ghee (clarified butter). http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghee

Ghee
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
0 g
99.5 g
Saturated61.9 g
Trans4g
Monounsaturated28.7 g
Polyunsaturated3.7 g
0 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A3069 IU
Vitamin E
(105%)
15.7 mg
Other constituents
Cholesterol256 mg

Fat percentage can vary.
Percentages are roughly approximated usingUS recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Other ingredients:

Fortification with vitamins.  One can use standard vitamin tablets to fortify their Pemmican.  However be cautious about going overboard using these.  For a large one gallon pot, 2 tablets that have been powdered in the coffee grinder will suffice.  Too much will impart a bad taste, or give you too much of a good thing.  

Honey.  Honey can be used as a ingredient, however take care to not use a lot.  It remains a liquid and will make your product sticky or moist.  Honey is used as a bakery ingredient not for the flavor, rather as it imparts a soft moist texture to baked goods without excessive water that otherwise would reduce shelf life.

Hardtack:

Hardtack is just a dried out biscuit or cracker.  However one could make something from dry breadcrumbs, dried rolls, and regular flour.

Cookies, for example; are similar to hardtack.   Sugar cookies made from powdered milk, oil, sugar and a tiny amount of water will give you an acceptable field ration.  To make the sugar cookies more durable, you need to add a small amount of water to the mix to activate the gluten, making to sticky.  This makes a harder biscuit, which ensures you don't have a bag full of crumbs after hauling it around for a week in a pack.




















 

No comments: