Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
February 26, 2000 - Issue 04

Recipes-Kanuchi and Pemmican

By Tonia Williams

Note: Cultural information may vary from clan to clan, location to location, family to family, and from differing opinions and experiences. Information provided here are not 'etched in stone'.

Kanuchi is considered to be a real delicacy. The nuts are gathered in the fall and allowed to dry for a few weeks before the kanuchi making begins. It is a simple process, but that does not necessarily mean that is easy. The hickory nuts are cracked and the largest pieces of shell removed either by shaking the pieces through a loosely woven basket, or picking them out by hand.

Traditionally, a log was hollowed out on one end into a bowl like shape. The shelled hickory nuts are placed in the hollowed log and pounded with a long heavy stick with the end rounded to have the same contour, more or less, as the cavity in the log. The nuts are pounded until they are of a consistency that can be formed into a ball that will hold its shape. Kanuchi balls are usually about three inches in diameter and must be stored in a cold place. Today kanuchi is usually preserved by freezing.

To prepare kanuchi for the table, place a kanuchi ball in a saucepan with about a quart of water and bring it to a boil to dissolve the ball. Allow the kanuchi to simmer about ten minutes and then poor it through a fine sieve. (A colander lined with cheese cloth works very well for this.) All the remaining shells are left in the sieve. If you have the time and patience you can pick the larger bits of nut meat from the shells in the sieve and add them to the liquid kanuchi. The kanuchi should be about as thick as light cream. Most traditional cooks will add about two cups of homemade hominy to a quart of kanuchi. Some cooks prefer hominy grits, which are prepared according to package directions and added to the kanuchi. Such things as consistency and how much hominy or hominy grits to add are, of course a matter of taste, as is the addition of salt or sugar.

Serve kanuchi hot as soup.

Saskatoon Pemmican

Note: In the late winter months, fresh meat was hard to come by. This is the time of year when Natives relied on foods such as pemmican for nourishment.

1 c
1 c
1 c
2 ts
1/4 c
1/2 ts
Jerky; beef or venison
Dried Saskatoon berries or dried blueberries
Unroasted sunflower seeds or crushed nuts of any kind
Peanut butter
Cayenne [optional]

This version uses peanut butter rather than melted suet or lard as the binding agent, which is more palatable for today's health conscious diets.

Grind [or pound] the dried meat to a mealy powder. Add the dried berries and seeds or nuts. Heat the honey, peanut butter and cayenne until softened. Blend. When cooled, store in a plastic bag or sausage casing in a cool dry place. It will keep for months.

From: Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada, published by the National Museums of Canada, ISBN 0-660-00128-4

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