Have you ever heard of hardtack? If you know anything about Civil War history, you know that the soldiers’ diets, especially when out in the field, could be less than savory. One of the foods they often ate was hardtack, commonly called hard bread. This is a dry, hard, bread-type food that soldiers often relied on during battle. While it lacked in the taste department, it could keep hunger at bay and ultimately kept many soldiers from starving. It lasted awhile without going bad, and had some nutritional value. Since it was unleavened bread, it was easy to make and prepare quickly, which worked well for feeding traveling soldiers.
Hardtack is something you could make at home if you found yourself running low on food and needing something to fill hungry bellies in a survival situation. It might not be the tastiest food out there, but it will get the job done. It has a pretty decent shelf life too. It is a hard, cracker-like food that can be spread with jam or peanut butter. Best of all, it isn’t difficult to make even if you are a cooking novice. Also, because it doesn’t have anything raw like eggs or milk, you don’t have to keep it refrigerated or frozen. This is ideal if you are in a situation with no electricity!
Take some time this week to make a batch and try it for yourself. If nothing else, it will provide a great history lesson for your kids and it will help you be better prepared in case your food supplies are ever running low and you need to make a quick meal to keep everyone moving. Here is a basic recipe for hardtack.
- 4 teaspoons of salt
- 4 cups of flour
- Approx. 2 cups of water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the ingredients and spread the dough out onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake on one side for 30 minutes, then flip over and bake on the other side for 30 minutes. When it is done cooking, cut into squares and poke holes (kind of like the saltine crackers). Once cooled, they can break apart fairly easy, but will harden as they age.
More Hardtack Ideas
If you want to boost the nutrients in your hardtack, you could add in things like flax seed, powdered milk, or wheat germ. You add in 1 tablespoon or so for every cup of flour. It’s a great way to beef up the protein content and add some variety to an otherwise bland meal.
While you probably won’t have hardtack as a staple in your emergency food kit, it is very useful to know how to make it. Your family may come to depend on it if times get tough! Have you tried making this survival food yet?