Hardtack: Make, Store, and Eat, the 25+ Year Shelf Life Survival Food

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Hardtack: Make, Store, and Eat, the 25+ Year Shelf Life Survival Food

August 25, 2021 0 comments

Hardtack: How to make, and eat, the original 25+ year shelf life MRE For Pennies

How to make hardtack, the ultimate survival ration that costs pennies

Hardtack is one of the oldest and easiest to make long-term storage foods that there is. Hardtack dates back as far as ancient Rome, and still, it is better known for its role in the American Civil War as food rations. It has been known to last for decades (There are even examples still left over from over a century ago, though we wouldn't suggest eating those).

In this article, we will discuss how to make and eat Hardtack and some great recipes to be used for both short-term storage or extremely long storage times, making it the perfect emergency survival food.

Historically Soldiers were known to survive for months on end, almost entirely on Hardtack. However, cases of scurvy were reported due to a lack of vitamin C. 

Though it has extremely old origins, today's Hardtack is still extremely simple and hardy, making them perfect emergency survival foods. However, they can even be modified for a great snack (that still has a long shelf life). Today we'll cover two recipes, one designed for extremely long food storage capabilities and one with a considerably shorter shelf life with higher nutritional content, and tastes much better but still makes excellent backpacking and camping snacks.

Hardtack is still used in some modern-day militaries and can even be found premade online (but it's much cheaper to make yourself) 

To Make your Long Term Storage Hardtack 25+ Years.

Ingredients

  • One LB flour
  • 1/2 Pint Water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt

Directions

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the 1LB flour with the 1/2 Tablespoon of salt with the 1/2 Pint of water in a large bowl by slowly adding in a little bit of flour at the time.
  3. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  4. Cut the dough into 3″x3″ squares (traditional to dry out evenly), or into whatever size and shape you desire.
  5. Poke holes in the surface, similar to how a saltine cracker looks.
  6. Put the Hardtack on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for about 25-45 minutes, flip them over and bake another 25-45 minutes.
  8. When golden brown on both sides, turn off the oven and let cool inside the oven

Long Term Storage

For long-term storage place, your Hardtack in a food-safe air-tight bag with an oxygen absorber inside Ziploc bags work for this (for optimum prolonged storage capabilities, use heat sealed Mylar) place into a food-safe 5-gallon bucket with lid, and store in a cool, dry place.

To Make your Short Term Storage Hardtack 2-3 Months

Ingredients

  • One LB flour
  • 1/2 Pint Water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar (or another sweetener, brown sugar, honey etc.)
  • dried nuts to taste
  • dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits to taste
  • additional seasonings to taste cinnamon, etc.

Directions

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the 1LB flour with the 1/2 Tablespoon of salt and 1/2 Tablespoon sugar with the 1/2 Pint of water in a large bowl by slowly adding in a little bit of flour at the time.
  3. mix in your dried nuts, dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits, and additional seasonings
  4. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  5. Cut the dough into 3″x3″ squares (traditional to dry out evenly), or into whatever size and shape you desire.
  6. Poke holes in the surface, similar to how a saltine cracker looks.
  7. Put the Hardtack on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for about 25-45 minutes, flip them over and bake another 25-45 minutes.
  9. When golden brown on both sides, turn off the oven and let cool inside the oven

Note: Adding additional ingredients to your Hardtack greatly reduces its shelf life. It's perfect for hiking, camping, or as a short-term storage item but should be replaced every 2-3 months.

Eating Methods

Hardtack is a notoriously hard biscuit. There are many methods to eat Hardtack, each working in its way. I suggest trying several for some variety, but all require you to soften it somehow as it has (literally) been known to break a tooth if eaten unsoftened and has the nickname "Jawbreaker."

Hardtack has several different methods to cook; since it was a traditionally bland item, there have been several creative ways to eat it discovered through the centuries.

The Dunk - Soaking your Hardtack in a liquid (Oreo style) is the most common way to eat it. Drop it into some water, coffee, milk (even some liquor works) for around 10 minutes to let it soften and soak up moisture. Gently take your first bite, as it could still be hard in the middle, and you don't want to break a tooth.

Fried - While cooking a meal, you can soak your Hardtack in liquid using the above method. With the leftover oils or grease in your skillet (or, if there is none, some butter or oil), you can toss your softened Hardtack into the skillet and fry it into a nice patty.

Gnawed - breaking off a small piece or picking a corner and sucking on it until it softens will extend the time it takes to eat, which can be a great distraction depending on your needs and requires no preparation for a meal on the go. 

Smothered - Hardtack is still eaten in many countries, and one favorite way to enjoy it is with Jelly and or soft cheese on top. After softening it, you cover it with several different items to increase its palatability.

Crumbled - Add some (about 2 TBSP ) butter and sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.) to your loosely crumbled Hardtack and mix together, adding a little bit of water, milk (or liquor) as needed to get chunky puddling like dessert.

Crushed - Crush your Hardtack to get a crumbly mixture, then use it like "Panko" to use as a batter to go outside of other items you could fry.

Thickener - you can crush your Hardtack into a finer consistency and use it in a thin broth, soup, or gravy as a thickening agent for a more robust meal.

Now Make your Hardtack and Let us Know How it Goes!

Now that you know how to make one of the ultimate survival rations, give Hardtack a go, and let us know how it went for you! For hundreds of years, into the modern age, Hardtack has hung around for one simple reason. It works! It's one of the cheapest and easiest survival foods you can make in bulk and is perfect for experienced preppers to beginners!

If you want a waterproof, weatherproof recipe card reminding you about exactly how to cook Hardtack, grab the Grim Workshop Hardtack recipe Tip Card HERE or check out all our other awesome Weatherproof Survival Tip Cards HERE

For more, head over to Grim Workshop


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