Soft Hardtack That's Actually Edible





Introduction: Soft Hardtack That's Actually Edible

About: I like trying new things and cheaper or better ways of doing old things. I like making things out of natural materiales such as wood, antlers, shells, clay, etc. but I also have an interest in synthetic poly...

This recipe is just as easy to make and pack around as regular hardtack but has more nutrition and won't break your teeth when you try to eat it!

Step 1: Ingredients

Here's what you will need:
Oat flour
A food dehydrator(or an oven that can be set very low)
Optional: Honey (raw is best but store bought will do)
Apple chips (home made is best, but again, store bought will do)

Step 2: Put It Together

The recipe is quite simple, it is just 2 parts oat flour to 1 part apple sauce. If you can find oat flour that's great, but it is very easy to make using regular rolled oats and a blender or spice grinder and it is also very cost effective.
And if you choose to add honey or apple chips you may alter as you wish but a good starting point is 5 parts flour/sauce mixture to 1 part honey or apple chips (be sure the chips are broken up into somewhat small pieces)
Once you have the dough made (it should be about the consistency of cookie dough, though a little bit stickier) you can flatten it out on a pan to put into the dehydrator. If you go that route you simply cut it into squares once it is dry. That is easy enough, but I prefer to dry it in smaller pieces so that it will dry quicker. I like to use plastic baby food lids since I have a lot of them and then they are a good uniform size.
The drying time will vary a little bit based on your dehydrator temperature; also adding honey makes it take longer as well. But in mine it usually takes about 10 to 12 hours, going about 6 to 8 hours on the first side and flipping it over (taking it out of the mold to do so) to dry the underside for about 4 more hours. You will know when it is sufficiently dry because it will no longer be sticky and it will be uniformly a much lighter color. If it is sticky anywhere or has dark patches anywhere then it's not done drying yet.

Step 3: How It Works

Regular hardtack is made of wheat flour, salt, and water which is baked until it's hard. The high gluten content of wheat flour makes it very solid once it's dry, in fact, it's so hard that it has been used for building homes in some parts of the world. By replacing it with oat flour, which has a much lower gluten content, you already make it a bit softer without compromising the ability to preserve it since oats will keep as well as wheat when completely dry.
The next improvement is using applesauce instead of water; you need some kind of liquid to make the flour into a paste for forming it into bisquits and applesauce will do the trick while adding nutrients as well as keeping the mixture soft even when it's dry. I have been able to successfully preserve apples through dehydration so that they last for at least a couple of years, as long as the moisture is all removed then the applesauce will keep for a good while.
Another improvement is adding honey if you choose to. Honey has been found in ancient tombs and was not only still edible but actually nutritious! Adding honey will help preserve the bisquits and make them taste better, though they don't seem to make a difference in how hard/soft they turn out.
Lastly, they are dehydrated, not baked. This is a subtle but important difference. Since it never gets hot enough to actually bake it, the ingredients retain many of the same qualities of being raw. The most important of which is that the nutrients in the oats don't brake down as much so this recipe is quite a bit healthier than normal hardtack. Dehydration is also more effective at removing moisture (although it is slower), which is very important since applesauce is definitely perishable if it's not totally dry.
And that's about it! So far I have had very good luck with these storing well as long as they are kept dry. They are much more edible than standard hardtack, I even give them to my 1 year old- that's how much softer and better tasting they are. Now don't get me wrong; these still aren't that tasty, but in a survival situation I would much rather have a pack full of these than those bricks they call food.
I hope this has been helpful and that it comes in handy for somebody some day!



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    21 Discussions

    you soak hard tack a little before eating it. you can soak it in any edible liquid.

    If I just have an oven that goes down to 140, how long should i leave it in there for?

    1 reply

    When adding an ingredient to food for extra protein remember anything with an oil/fat content will go rancid after a time. Rancid nuts taste bad.

    1 reply

    it's by volume, though the recipe is forgiving enough that you could probably go by weight as well if you wanted.

    I wonder if instead of oat flour a low-carb, whole grain baking flour (like red mill's) could work?...that would increase the protein, lower the carb and add fiber.

    5 replies

    hmm... That is worth a try, and if it's got enough fiber then it should still be fairly soft

    I've been doing the whole low-carb/high protien life style for about 2 years (lost 120+ pounds) and thinking real edible soft hardtack that keep would be good for backpack trips. Tweak the recipe and use that for a staple.

    wow that's great. I don't know how they stack up carb wise, but you could add crushed nuts too if you are looking for more protein...

    looking for high protein and high caloric content try ground chia seeds and ground pumpkin seeds maybe some sesame for flavor

    I like the idea of pumpkin seeds! But I'll have to drive a few hours to a real city for the Chia seeds I'm pretty sure... might be worth it though. Thanks for the input!

    So far the longest I've had any is about 7 months, but it's because we eat them not because they go bad. If they aren't kept in a container they taste a little stale after a few weeks but are still edible. My best guess is that they will last a year or two but I honestly haven't been able to keep them long enough to find out (my daughter really likes them). Maybe I will hide some for a year and find out... we're turning these into 'power cakes' ?
    Packable and long-term stable, filling, EDIBLE AND NUTRITIOUS!
    I hear my kitchen calling, my inner chef is awakening?

    this is a great ible. I'll be doing that, and using the honey too. Any idea what temperature I should set my oven to since I don't have a dehydrator?

    2 replies

    It should be between 170 and 200 degrees F. If your oven goes that low then great, though I think most don't... There are tons of 'ibles and tutorials on making dehydrators that use the sun though.

    Aye, thanks. Mines an electric fan oven. I'll do some research and see what it's capable of doing.

    Nice 'ible. Well written and articulate. I am eager to go out and get a food dehydrator now, which is saying a LOT, because I love to cook fresh and the thought of doing something to food that will make it last a long time has never appealed to me.

    Now I have to save up for a dehydrator :P