Traditionally, pemmican was prepared from the lean meat of large game such as buffalo, elk, deer, or moose. The meat was cut in thin slices and dried, either over a slow fire or in the hot sun, until it was hard and brittle. (About 5 pounds (2,300 g) of meat are required to make 1 pound (450 g) of dried meat suitable for pemmican.) Then it was pounded into very small pieces, almost powder-like in consistency, using stones. The pounded meat was mixed with melted fat in an approximate 1:1 ratio by volume. In some cases, dried fruits, such as blueberries, choke cherries, cranberries, or saskatoon berries, were pounded into powder and then added to the meat/fat mixture. The resulting mixture was then packed into rawhide bags for storage.
A bag of buffalo pemmican weighing about 90 lb (41 kg) was called a taureau (French for “bull”) by the Métis of Red River. These bags of taureaux (lit. “bulls”), when mixed with fat from the udder, were known as taureaux fins, when mixed with bone marrow, as taureaux grand, and when mixed with berries, as taureaux à grains. It generally took the meat of one buffalo to fill a taureau.