Bronze's Expedition Log


Daily Ration

I initially based my diet on two 19th Century ration schemes: the British Navy/Army standard rations, and Dr. Rae’s Arctic Expedition rations.


British Naval Ration: 16oz hardtack, 1.5oz oats, 2oz cheese, 1.5oz butter or sugar, 12oz saltpork, 1 oz coffee or tea Dr. Rae’s Arctic Rations: 20oz pemmican, 4oz hardtack, 1.6oz dried potato, 5.3oz flour, 2.3oz sugar, .5oz tea or coffee My daily food allowance is currently looking something like this… 6000 calories seems adequate, if not excessive given that I wont be carrying much weight. As to how unappealing and monotonous it might be I can’t yet say.







1 cup





1 tbsp





2 tbsp






1 bar




parched corn

1 cup






1 cup





1 bar







At every resupply point I will make sure and fill up on fresh fruit and vegetables and meat. I will probably rotate in such things as onions, garlic, eggs, hard cheeses such as parmesan, cured meats such as prosciutto or Virginia Ham, honey, corn meal, dried beans, and whatever else I can think of that will add variety and still maintain authenticity. At one point I considered curing 5 or so large hams to use as my food supply. Prosciutto runs around $30/lb but I figured doing it myself I could get it down to almost $12/lb. Alas, the amount of effort and space needed to pull it off was prohibitive, not to mention that a novice such as myself might easily ruin all 5 hams without realizing it until 6 months had gone by. For anyone interested in trying it out here are some useful links: Curing Virginia Hams Curing Prosciutto Vendor of raw hams/meats for curing

Dried Beef

This summer I began experimenting with several methods of drying beef. I assumed that jerky would constitute a substantial portion of my diet, whether alone, or in pemmican. After some research online, I liked the sound of the Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator, which I purchased on Amazon for $66. I then began experimenting with different dried beef recipes. I also built a meat drying rack out at my buddy’s ranch near Palm Springs. I bought some screen door mesh at a hardware store and stapled it to a 2′x4′ bit of lattice. Lying in the summer sun with a moderate breeze I was able to thoroughly dry the beef in 8 hours. The food dehydrator took about 12-16 hours. dried-beefIn June I made 7 varieties of dried beef and left them sitting on my window sill to observe any decay or mold. Here are further details of my dried beef experiments. At some point I realized I was going to need about 60 lbs of dried beef, which meant I would need about 180 lbs of fresh beef. The amount of time spent slicing, drying, and grinding such a volume would be overwhelming, so I have since settled on buying dried beef in bulk from a jerky retailer. I can then grind it at home using my KitchenAid in preparation for making pemmican.


As satisfying as it would be to carve a chunk of off of a Virginia country ham for lunch every day, I quickly realized that if I am to have any chance of preparing all this food for myself I need to go for the simplest most calorie dense food around. Pemmican seems like to way to go-it is authentic to the early American West, it keeps for ages, it packs a wallop of energy, and it’s fairly simple to make. Here is my recipe:
























Any type of nuts and berries could be substituted. As with the dried beef, I initially attempted to render my own tallow.pemmican-pb This is done by heating beef fat and bones in a stew pot and then filtering the liquid fat. Detailed instructions can be easily found online. Again, this proved to be a time consuming task as well as difficult to obtain beef fat in the quantities I needed. Once I located several food suppliers that sell tallow in bulk I quickly dispatched with the notion that I’d render all my own. The 50 lb cube of rendered beef fat sitting in my kitchen goes nicely with the coffee cans full of ground jerky that are slowly stacking up. Based on my calculations I’ll need 2 bricks of pemmican a day for up to 140 days. At 3 cups a brick, or about 43ccs, I’ll at some point have around 7 cubic feet of this stuff sitting around. Almost a 2 foot cube. I plan on wrapping it in wax paper or cheese cloth and possibly sealing it in beeswax too, which will add to the volume. That step might be unnecessary given that the processed beef tallow has been treated to make it shelf stable.


This is essentially flour with just enough moisture to keep it in brick form. It is nearly inedible without some kind of moisture. I figure I can crumble it into some hot water with a bit of fat for a nice change of pace at dinner time. hardtackHere are some hardtack recipes. I found that 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt and about ¾ cup cold water made a good consistency. I baked two batches at about 400° (inaccurate oven). One batch for 30 minutes, the other flipped over for another 30. I also experimented with poking holes in both sides, or one side only. The best batch had holes on both sides, but was only baked for 30 minutes on one side. It was just as hard and dry as the 60 minute batch, but retained a better flavor. It actually was reasonably tasty, probably due to the whole wheat flour. Incidentally, whole wheat contains a modicum of fat from the wheat germ, so I will seek out the brand with the highest content to improve the energy value of the hardtack.

Parched Corn

This will probably provide limited nutritional or caloric value but I threw it in because it’s authentic to the period and it might be a pleasant thing to munch on while walking. At this point I’m not sure if I’ll want to devote the time to making vast quantities, or the space in my panniers to carrying it along. I suppose I could cheat and buy bulk roasted corn nuts.


I imagine a warm hearty breakfast will help start each day, thus the oats, butter and sugar. I believe Irish or steel cut oats will pack the most punch in terms of density. I figure I can mix boiling water and oats in my insulated corn boiler and let it cook for 30 minutes or so while I groom my mule or feed her or tend to other ablutions. I will also have some form of coffee on hand to start the day.

10 Responses to “Food”

  1. Inda says:

    This looks absolutely amazing!!! Jen and I are actually envious of you. My one question: Can or will you take a rifle or a gun? Or do you choose not to? I’m all about it, but I was just wondering.
    I think the wilderness and the silence alone will be extremely therapeutic. I hope that you journal your unique experience, so that we may all share in your adventures. Happy Trails!!!

  2. bronze says:

    Oddly enough, it is illegal to possess a firearm in a national park. As the PCT runs through several, I wont be able to bring my flintlock kentucky rifle! Don’t worry, I’ll have a knife! And a tomahawk! And a mule!

  3. Andrew says:

    I have hiked the PCT and wish the best on your adventure. For what it is worth I would try for a more varried diet. Rice boiled with dried vegetables and/or jerky is good and hopefully keeps it authentic. Basmati(sp?) is much better than just plain white. Best of luck.

  4. Bob Mcleish says:

    i sent you my choice for food, here it is again. a mix of dried corn, lentils, split peas, wild rice, white rice, dried fruit, and dried veggies. i allow 1/2 cup dry/day and only use 1/3 cup. i take dried fruit to munch on, steel cut oats are good, 1/4 cup dry per serving. lots of raisens, indestructable and very good for you. dry jack cheese, if i were going on your trip, i would take a whole 8lb round. it is also hard to kill, lasts forever and when it gets too dry you can grate it. or rehydrate it. Vella Cheese co. of Sonoma, Ca.
    they have a web site. i also take Secchi salami also indestructable. that is my grease intake. it’s a very hard dry salami good for 6 months or more. i have carried it longer as with the cheese. also split peas and lentils have about 4 grams of fat/serving. you can find the Secchi salami at Vella or your local deli should have it. steel cut oats are good. cone sugar is more durable the mexican brown cones are best. i also take mexican chocolate for hot chocolate. i also take chocolate to eat. all of this can be documented in your trade manifests and journals of the Mtn men of the Fur trade. i also take loose green and black tea. Russian caravan and Lapsong Suchong are period correct smoked black teas. the green tea of choice is Gunpowder and goes a long way. also period correct . add honey to your hardtack recipe. i use jerky as a lunch snack, not a primary food source. also on the Secchi Salami, i allow one per day or a half of one. good source for salt and grease. green coffee beans stay fresh indefinately and can be roasted per serving in your frying pan. grind them by putting them in a small leather bag and roll the handle of your handaxe back and forth like a rolling pin. nobody carried ground coffee, it only came green. you can get it from coffee companies on e-bay. beans are good but take a lot of time to cook. hence i take lentils.
    i carry a gun. period. if there is an issue, offer to disable it. you can do that by knocking out the pins that hold the barrel in and putting it your packs. just don’t lose the pins. drink some pine needle tea now and then and take advantage of any rose hips you might find. lots of V-c

  5. bronze says:

    As usual, sagely advice my friend! You are now my official Senior Technical Advisor. Thanks for giving me an excuse to buy a new pistol!

  6. Russ says:

    Look into Scott hams. I use thier smoked/dured bacon all the time at events. It wil last several months with out refridgeration.

  7. bronze says:

    Thanks for the tip! I checked out Scott hams and I will definitely throw a few of them on my shopping list. They look perfect! With all the dried beef I have acquired, pemmican will still be my mainstay but the ham and bacon from Scotts will be a nice supplement when I get resupplied.

    Following Bob McLeish’s advice I will probably hit up the Vella Cheese Co for some dry jack and secchi sausage as well. Believe me if I had my way I’d be feasting exclusively on stuff like that! However these things run about $11/lb, whereas my pemmican is coming in around $1.65/lb. When we’re talking hundreds of pounds of food I need to watch my budget.

  8. Rachael says:

    I’ll have the house stocked with fresh fruits and veggies and ready for lots of home cooked meals when you return to me!

  9. foodie says:

    Ha! Pemmican… oh sweet sweet pemmican! I made 5 pounds of it with cranberries, dried beef, kidney fat, and peanuts. each one was carefully wrapped in 3 oz. portions in wax paper. I went camping and nearly starved in the cold winter of the North Woods do to the fact that it tasted to bad! I am now in the process of making hardtack. Something tells me that this will be no different from the other experiment. When will I learn, “If you don’t see it on a menu at a restaurant, there is a reason for it.”

  10. Kevin says:

    Bronze, I am rooting for you buddy. I believe canned cornbeef or bully beef is the modern son of pemican. I hope you have a safe trip. I would love to join you.

    P.S. Bob Mcleish, If I were to go on a trip like this I would want you by my side.

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