Make Your Own Hardtack
About a month ago I mentioned hardtack in the article Foods That Last Forever and some people have asked for more details on what it is and how to make it. I’m happy to oblige! Basically, hardtack is a very hard cracker made from flour, salt and water. It’s a great way to store your flour because, if make properly, it can last indefinitely.
Because it’s inexpensive to make and lasts so long, it was once taken on long sea voyages and was called things like pilot bread, ship biscuit, sea biscuit, dog biscuit or sea bread. It was also carried by soldiers on long military campaigns and was referred to as tooth dullers, molar breakers, or sheet iron. I know that sounds bad, but it’s easier to eat if soaked in coffee, crumbled into soup, or fried with other foods.
Some hardtack recipes include sugar, milk or butter, but that will significantly shorten the shelf life, so I recommend making it the traditional way. Here’s what you need:
- 4 cups of white flour
- 4 teaspoons of salt
- 2 cups of water
- Cookie sheet
- A knife
- A common nail
How to make it:
- Preheat your oven to 375°
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl
- Gradually mix in the water until you form a dough that doesn’t stick to your hands
- Flatten the dough into a square until it’s no more than a half inch thick
- Cut the dough into 3-inch square pieces
- Using the nail, make a 4×4 grid of holes in each piece (like in the picture)
- Flip each piece over and repeat
- Put the pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes
- Turn the squares over and bake for another 30 minutes
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool
Ideally, the hardtack should be just a little brown on each side. Adjust the baking time if necessary. Once it’s cool, it should be hard as rock.
Like I said, the great thing about hardtack is it lasts indefinitely without any special storage techniques. I would put it in Ziploc bags and add it to your food cache, bug out bags and vehicle survival kits. It makes a great source of quick energy in an emergency situation.