Hardtack is a type of hard, dense, and dry cracker or biscuit that has been used as a long-lasting food source for centuries. If you ever read Little House on the Prairie as a child, it was one of the things Laura and her family ate while travelling west in a covered wagon. But it is a great survivalist food too and many preppers use it since it can be stored for years, as long as it is stored properly. While it is not the most flavorful food, it is a calorie dense food that can be used, particularly while travelling, such as if you were travelling between home and a bug out location, or if you needed to travel to safety.
It is also great because the main ingredient is a prepper stable – all-purpose flour. You can make them with whole wheat flour if you up the water content, but be aware that they will not last nearly as long.
Here is a simple recipe for making hardtack:
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the water and mix well until a stiff dough is formed.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/2 inch.
- Cut the dough into small squares, about 3 inches by 3 inches.
- Use a fork to poke several holes in each square to allow for air circulation during baking.
- Place the squares on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
- Flip the squares over and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the hardtack is dry and crisp.
- Remove the hardtack from the oven and allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.
Hardtack can last for years if stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, as long as you ensure the moisture is no longer present in the hardtack before storing. Due to its long shelf life after baking, it was a popular food for soldiers, pioneers and explorers.
However, it may become stale over time and lose its flavor and texture. If you find that your hardtack has become stale, you can try rehydrating it by soaking it in water or boiling it in a soup or stew, ala biscuits.