Hardtack is essentially a hard biscuit made of flour, salt and water. It originated centuries ago, when sufficient food supplies were scarce, and the thicker the food, the better. It’s been around long ages ago since Egyptian times but it gained quite the popularity for its importance during the civil war. Sailors and soldiers are the most famous consumers of hard biscuits, because hard biscuit-like foods are cheap to make, easy to transport, and can be stored in almost any environment.
The secret of a long shelf life is drawing out all the moisture in the food itself. The first version of the hardtack was baked four times separately, and then left for a few days to remove the last drops of moisture. If they are stored dry, they will last indefinitely. There are still some leftover hardtacks from the Civil War that you can still eat today! How’s that for a food lasting for a long time?
Using Hardtack as a Survival Food
Hardtack lacks the protein factor, however it is an excellent survival food (it will be an excellent companion for pemmican). It is easy to make, easy to store, easy to carry, and can be consumed for almost a lifetime (seriously, it may live longer than you). It also has slightly higher calories (especially biscuits) and is versatile. You can eat it alone, dip it in coffee or any other beverage, use it to make soup, fry it with some grease, etc.
Why is Hardtack a Top Survival Food?
There are many reasons why hardtack is great, but longevity, ease of manufacturing, and is at the top list of food for long-term storage. In fact, it is all the reasons why hardtacks became a staple food in wartime and long-distance voyages. Whether you are preparing for a long stay in the wild, getting lost on a hike or preparing for disaster, hardtack is a must. It will serve you well just like soldiers and sailors. This has been carried on since long time ago.
The following are the main reasons why hardtack is the perfect survival food:
- This can be stored for years, even decades, or even centuries.
- It is rich in carbohydrates which can maintain high energy levels.
- It is very simple to prepare, it will not take long to make.
- It’s cheap—you can buy its commercialized products or make your own version.
- It is very light and does not take up much space.
- It is versatile—it can be chopped, fried, soaked or eaten raw (only pay attention to your teeth white biting and chewing).
Since hardtacks only contain flour, water and salt (optional), the nutritional information is very simple. On an average, a hardtack contains about 75-100 calories (all made from flour) and about 16 grams of carbohydrates, nothing more. Depending on the type of flour you used to make these, you may find a version with 34 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving. Though, hardtack is a great food to keep you up while taking a hike, you may not get enough nutrients from eating it to survive for weeks or months without ingesting other foods.
Hardtack is considered to be ideal for bug out bags or food storages, but consuming it alone for weeks will not be enough to survive and carry on.
- Measuring cup & spoons
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Rolling pin
- Cutting board
- Baking sheets
- Cooling rack
Hardtack Recipe (Survival Bread)
2 Cups of Flour (All Purpose flour) – 240 grams
3/4 Cup of Water – 175 milliliters
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Salt – 7.5 milliliters
NOTE: 10-12 crackers will be served for this amount of ingredients. If you’re aiming for 20-25 crackers, double each ingredient in this recipe.
Step by Step Procedure
- Start by preheating the oven up to 375 degrees F.
- In a bowl, put and mix the flour, water and salt together.
- After mixing them together, the dough should be slightly
- If the mixture is still sticky, add more flour in small portions until the dough is dry enough.
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a countertop or cutting board until it is about 1/2 inch thick.
- To avoid sticking to the countertop or cutting board, a little flour should be added before rolling the dough. Sprinkle some flour on the dough so that the rolling pin does not stick to the dough.
- Cut the dough into cubes (3 inch cubes). You can make hardtacks by slicing the dough proportionately on a large cutting board.
- Poke small holes in the biscuit with a toothpick, stick or fork. There should be a hole on the other side of the cookie so that it does not swell.
- Place the biscuits on the baking tray.
- Wear the mitts and put the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Wearing the mitts, turn over with a spatula and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Wearing the mitts, remove the tray from the oven. Then use a spatula to remove the hardtacks on the tray. Place hardtacks on a metal rack to cool.
- After the hardtacks have cooled completely, store it in an airtight container.