How to Make Hardtack: The Best Cracker for Preppers
UPDATED on June 29, 2020
I have gotten the question, “how do you make hardtack” hundreds of times from others. So, here is how to make hardtack.
Hardtack is a simple, low-calorie cracker made from flour, salt, and water. The most significant part about it is that if you hardtack properly, it can last for centuries.
There is hardtack from the mid-1800s in museums today. Hardtack also has no trouble withstanding heat as well.
Hardtack was once used on sea voyages, because of how inexpensive it was. It was named pilot bread, cabin bread, ship biscuit, and sea bread.
It was also carried by soldiers during long military missions and was referred to as tooth dullers, even though it is reasonably nutritious.
I know that does not sound good, but trust me, it’s better than nothing. This cracker also goes very well with coffee, soup, or fried with other foods.
If you want the cracker softer and tasting better, you could add sugar, milk, or butter, but that could cut down half the shelf life of the cracker.
In a single serving of hardtack(9-10 pieces), you can expect about 100 calories, a small amount of fat, a fair amount of sodium, some potassium, and a healthy mix of essential vitamins.
What you need to make hardtack:
- A knife at least 3 inches long.
- A cookie sheet
- 1.5 cup of water
- A mixing bowl
- 3 cups of white flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt(optional)
- A common nail
- 9 teaspoons of Natural Yeast(optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit
You have to do this to save time later, so I recommend you preheat your oven to 375° Fahrenheit. This will optimize your time more efficiently.
2. Insert 3 cups of white flour with 1.5 cups of water(2 teaspoons of salt, and 9 teaspoons of Natural Yeast) into the mixing bowl
Now, all you have to do is add your 3 cups of white flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and maybe 9 teaspoons of Natural Yeast.
Be sure to mix in those ingredients thoroughly. After that, mix in 1.5 cups of water into the ingredients. If you did add the salt, then 2 cups of water, and if you added the Yeast, about 3 cups of water.
3. Steadily add water and mix the ingredients with your hand until dough forms
Next, with clean hands, mix the ingredients by pressing and balling it repeatedly. This could take a couple of minutes.
4. Roll out the dough until it is 1/3 an inch thick
Now, roll your dough out. I would go as far as to say that you should roll it 1/3 of an inch thick. However, if you roll it out to 1 inch, that should be fine.
5. Cut the dough into even edges(knife works too)
6. Cut the dough once more, into 6-9 different separate slices
Ideally, the pieces should go to two to three inches long and wide.
7. Using the nails, poke 9-25 holes
This step is to ensure that the pieces stay even while in the oven. You don’t want to poke all the way through, but it is okay if you do.
Ideally, you would want to make a dent that pierces at least halfway through.
8. Bake the hardtack for 30 minutes
Since you already pre-heated your oven and saved all that time, you can now bake it for around 30-45 minutes. Once the crackers are a tan brown, it is ready.
9. Turn the squares and bake them for another 30 minutes
10. Let it cool, and you have hardtack!
So, now we get to how to actually store these hardtack crackers. I personally use a ziplock bag; any small bag that can seal air inside tight will be just fine.
I recommend you save some in your bugout, or hiking bag, and car.
So, now, how do you actually eat the cracker? You probably realized that it is stiff and dry, which is precisely what makes it last so long.
I personally dip mine in my morning coffee, but there are other ways to eat this.
You can fry it in animal fat, crumble it into a stew or soup, or cover it in gravy, or if you’re like my kids, you’ll cover it in applesauce or syrup. All those options are just fine.
Thank you, and I hoped you enjoyed this article. Have a wonderful day!