Knowing how to make hardtack is a plus for any prepper. The biscuit is considered the ultimate survivalist food, often lauded for its long-lasting lifespan, efficiency (in satisfying you), and the affordability of its preparation. As long as hardtack is properly stored, it is perhaps the most useful survival food you’ll pack along to the wild.
Courtesy of its remarkable hardness, hardtack has other names, including sheet iron and tooth dullers. Hilarious and not appetizing, but that should underline how tough the biscuit is.
Anyway, call it whatever you wish, but there’s hardly a more ideal food for the woods than hardtack. To soften, it can be crumbled into coffee, cocoa, or soup and can also be cooked with other foods.
Highlighting How To Make Hardtack
While there are various varieties, the traditional hardtack recipe remains the best for preppers. American soldiers adopted this same recipe during the Civil War. The production process was quite simple: ordinary baking of flour, water, and salt or sugar.
The results were biscuits that filled the stomach easily and lasted for years if well kept. In fact, some of these biscuits were kept as souvenirs of the war and can be found in Civil War museums today as you read.
Ingredients For Making Hardtack
- White flour, quantity depending on the number to feed. Let’s use 2 cups here anyway.
- Half a cup of water.
- Half tablespoonful salt or sugar (optional)
- Mixing bowl
- Cookie sheet
- Rolling pin
- Clean common nail
Steps for Making Hardtack
Making Your Dough
With the ingredients all set, turn up your oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Mix your flour with sugar or salt (as desired) and when this is well mixed, add water in little amounts. Then, start mixing & kneading the dough with a mixer or your bare hands.
Put in mind that mixing this flour can be difficult, as the mixture is very sticky at first. But if you continue thorough mixing, the dough will soon assume a uniform form. If the dough is still sticky after kneading for some time, add extra flour to thicken the mixture. And when eventually, you’ve made a solid ball, rub flour on your work surface and get set for rolling.
By the way, if you wear finger rings, I advise that you get them off before mixing as the dough is sticky (as previously mentioned). Cleaning your rings later on, will be difficult, plus there’s the probability of the rings carrying germs.
Rolling Your Dough
With the dough now well-formed and your work surface dusted with flour, it is time to roll the dough. If you do not have a rolling pin, make do with a heavy pint glass, wine bottle, or even bare hands. Spread the dough to an estimated thickness of ¼ – ½”. When forming your dough, you may consider making it into a square rather than the typical pizza circle, as the former is typically easier to roll.
If you’re not very familiar with the rolling pin and it’s the only available tool, pencils will help you. To use, place a pencil on both sides of the dough & press upon them until the rolling pin is in contact with the pencil. Continue to roll your pin back & forth, and a flat piece of dough will be formed.
Remember to keep your dough flat, so it is evenly cooked.
Cutting Your Dough
If the shape of your dough pieces satisfies you, arrange them on a cookie sheet and then start cutting them into a familiar cracker size using a knife or dough-cutting blade.
Usually, your dough should be cut to the size of a graham saltine or cracker—biscuits last longest when in this shape.
If you will be soaking your biscuit in soup or coffee before eating, I suggest that you find out early so they are cut into sizes that will fit your cup or mug.
Cutting down is very easy, and I don’t expect you to face any issues with the process. Just use a sharp knife and cut to fit your container.
Poking Your Cracker
With your dough in the desired size, you have to poke holes through them, which is why a nail is among the ingredients. It is essential to poke your biscuit if you want it to bake evenly at the middle and edges.
This is because the holes allow enough moisture to escape while baking is going on and stopping the dough from rising in the oven. Additionally, these pokes make it easier to break the biscuits when ready to eat.
Needless to say, a nail is not the only tool to use for this purpose. You can use a screwdriver and other tools that will do the job well. The key is that the gear you choose to use is clean enough.
Baking Your Dough
With the initial steps all well taken: dough made, rolled, cut, and poked, it is time to complete the process. Place the dough pieces in your preheated oven for about 25–35 minutes, or until they are about to turn brown. Your target color is a light tan instead of an actual brown, so pay extra attention as the flour is scorched in the oven.
Before storing your biscuits, wait for some time (until they are cool). This will ensure that every trace of moisture is squeezed out before encasing in containers. The failure to dehydrate these biscuits completely is the main reason they spoil after a few years. With this note, you can leave these biscuits exposed to the sun for some time if there’s no dehydrator available.
Other Ingredients to Add to Hardtack
As I already mentioned, the basic recipe uses flour, water, salt, or sugar. While this recipe has undoubtedly lasted centuries and served America when necessary, we should acknowledge that some people won’t be satisfied with this plain preparation.
If you’ll rather stick to modern-day recipes, you can use brown sugar, added sugars, butter, coconut oil, sweet sorghum flour, and nutritional yeast. Lactose intolerant persons can make do with dried buttermilk powder, cocoa powder, and carob.
Put in mind that the more the ingredients added, the less longer the biscuit’s lifespan. But whatever you add shouldn’t matter if you use vacuum sealing. Lastly, never add lard, fallow, and other animal fats to your hardtack.
Concluding How To Make Hardtack
Apparently, hardtack is excellent survival food. The hardcore biscuit is not only long-lasting and quick to fill the belly but is also tasty. While I understand that making the dough can be tasking, the result is worth it. Having read this, I daresay others will be green with envy when you say, “I know how to make hardtack.” Let’s hear from you: what do you think of this classic survival food?