Top 5 Best Native American Food Preservation Methods

Native American facts

For centuries, Native Americans hunted for meat and trekked deep into the dense forest to gather fruits for survival. Native Americans had their ways of storage. In this article you will learn the best native American food preservation methods.

The nature of life back then was different than it is now because we have modern techniques for producing crops for human consumption all year. Native Americans couldn’t farm back then, but they had ways of preserving what they gathered. These methods of food preservation are still relevant today, and you can learn more about them in further readings.

Here are the Native American Food Preservation Methods and still in use today.

1. Dry method of food preservation

The Native American tribes’ food drying method of food preservation allowed them to keep foods for a certain number of days. Excess moisture in food facilitates or accelerates food spoilage. They relied on heat from the sun to dry hunted meats and fruits.

Exposing edible food to sunlight helps to reduce the rate of deterioration. Such a method might very well appear to be a bit much for the present homestead, but it is possible to place the food in the sun and protect it from insects using these native American food preservation methods

We may not dry our meat directly in the sun on the modern homestead, but sun-drying has been our traditional method of drying crops such as grains and coffee beans. This method of food preservation has remained very effective to date.

Native American Food Preservation Methods

Examples of fruits dried in the sun

  • Maize
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Coffee beans
  • Cocoa beans
  • Fish
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat
  • Pepper
  • Onions

Sun drying device

We have advanced solar dryers in the modern homestead that use Native American food drying techniques. These solar dryers are specialized devices that aid in reducing the moisture content of farm produce in order to extend its shelf life.

List of Solar dryers online you can purchase

Solar dryerWebsite Link
Food Air Drying OvenLink
Solar Fruit Drying machineLink
Fruit dehydratorLink
Solar Fish DryerLink
Solar vegetable dryerLink

2. Cold storage food preservation

The Inuits were a Native American tribe who lived in the Arctic region, where it was extremely cold and their lands were perpetually snow-covered. To protect and shelter themselves, the Inuits build structures out of blocks.

Similarly, hunting and gathering were common practices among this tribe. The ice was indeed used by these Native Americans to store the majority of the foods leftover from hunting and gathering, just as we do in our homes by storing excess foods in the refrigerator.

The food would be covered in packs containing usable amounts of meat. This enabled the removal and defrosting of a pack for use. There is no waste. Because the weather is so unpredictable, using this technique to preserve food was ineffective.

3. Pemmican

The term “pemmican” is derived from the Cree word for the food “pimihkaan,” which literally means “to make grease.” It is not referred to as pemmican by all native American tribes. The Lakotas, for example.

Pemmican Native American

Pemmican is the Native American equivalent of a protein bar blending crisped meat with rendered fat. Getting the meat and fat ready. This method of food preservation helped them to store food for a very long time such that meat food could be stored for a year or two and also provide food at time when hunting was impossible.

Pemmican recipe

4. Root Cellars

A root cellar is a storage structure that is usually underground or partially underground. Native Americans primarily built this structure beneath their homes to store food such as onions, tuber foods such as potatoes, and most of their other foods.

Is a root cellar worth it?

We live in a modern era where technology is all around us; however, having a root cellar at home is not a bad thing because some Native American tribes still prefer to use this traditional method of food preservation for their root vegetables.

5. Smoking meat

Smoking meat is the process of applying heat and smoke from burning firewood to not only preserve the meat by removing moisture but also to enhance the flavor of the meat.

Smoking meat as a method of preserving food is still used in modern homesteads. Modern methods and devices have been developed and are now used in place of the traditional methods, so there has been some progress, but firewood is still used.


Back in the day, Native American life was based on natural concepts and basically making full use of what they had available to them. In any case, there is nothing new under the sun, old ways still rock, and we are grateful to have modern versions of the old good days.


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