Introduction: Survival Hardtack

Picture of Survival Hardtack
The outdoors can be as fun as it is unforgiving and if you are not prepared for the worst then it can also be deadly. We have much to learn from the outdoorsman of the past. The survival methods they used were proven and should be used to increase survival even today. Food is important when surviving because it is the only way to replenish energy. You can survive with very little food and I will show you a way to easily carry some with you.

Hardtack is a dense bread that has minimal water and can last months without modern refrigeration. It is true to its name and has a reputation for being hard as brick. Historically, it has helped armies and sailors make long trips by packing wooden casks with this hard bread.

Making it is simple and it requires only whole wheat flour, salt and water.

Step 1:

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First, measure 4 cups of flour. 4 cups of flour weighs 480 grams.
Next, measure 2 cups of water and dissolve 4 teaspoons of salt into it.

Step 2:

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Then, mix the water slowly into the flour until it is a stiff dough. All the water may not be used. The dough should not be sticky but instead firm and moldable.

Step 3:

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Roll out the dough to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut 3 inch square pieces and press into the dough holes similar to store bought crackers.

Step 4:

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Put the hardtack on a un-greased pan and bake at 375 for 30 min. flip and bake for another 30 min.

They will keep for a year or longer if stored air tight.


JohnD116 (author)2015-12-21


SuperMCMatrix (author)JohnD1162017-01-09

Acorn flour is actually relatively easy to make. Boil acorns, Crack acorns, Dry acorns, Separate the shells from the other stuff, Leach Acorns, Mush them, dry them, then grind and sift them. then you have acorn flour

tjesse (author)SuperMCMatrix2017-05-09

Nut'n to it... get it?

LukeTheGoo (author)2017-05-09

Use whole wheat flower so you can be healthier ;)

tjesse (author)LukeTheGoo2017-05-09

It calls for whole wheat.

devianttouch (author)2016-09-02

Thanks for this! I made it about 6 months ago, tried my 6 month old hardtack last weekend. It is exactly the same as when I made it. I store them vacuum sealed.

PhotogDreamer (author)2013-04-11

Are the 'holes' to aid it the baking process; even temperature or keeping them from rising ( I realize these will not rise like regular breads).

Thank you

The holes help to allow moisture out and also keeps it from rising due to steam bubbles.

Austin2003 (author)2016-07-14

I made it

JamesW33 (author)2016-04-12

How big a cup do I use? Or do I assume that if I use the same cup for everything it will all be in proportion?

JamesW33 (author)JamesW332016-04-12

Never mind, I just noticed the fluid ounces conversion on your jug. Sorry!

LiftAndLove (author)2013-02-24

Can you add some sugar or honey to it for extra carbohydrates?

Rambo556 (author)LiftAndLove2013-04-08

Yes you can, but it won't keep as long. If the recipe is followed it can keep for about 50 years (if kept dry)

LiftAndLove (author)Rambo5562013-04-08

Well seeing honey is the only food that will actually last forever, why would adding it shorten it's shelf-life?

JamesW208 (author)LiftAndLove2016-01-30

You coukd keep honey packets maybe to add to it when you eat. Just my 2cents

thedustycelt (author)LiftAndLove2013-04-17

Honey keeps due to the fact that it is so high in sugar that bacteria can't grow. Once yo dilute it (i.e. use it in a recipe) it is now susceptible...

JamesG3 (author)LiftAndLove2014-09-16

Rambo556 is right, but it's because honey is hygroscopic and will draw moisture right out of the air, leading to premature spoiling of the hardtack. Also, honey often has dormant spores of Clostridium botulinum which normally do not pose a problem for anyone over 1 year old, but for a product intended to be stored for an indefinite period of time, any improper storage could lead to these spores germinating and producing a dangerously high concentration of the bacteria's toxins. Just thought i'd add some clarity. Also, I have heard that hardtack used by frontier women feeding their families was typically crushed or ground to essentially reconstitute flour for baking fresh bread or other baked goods. Maybe a better method for non-survivalist types who expect to eat something palatable. Still, a time-tested and proven foodstuff.

CarltonM3 (author)2015-08-18

could you use a coffee can or something similar with argon gas and an extra sure paraffin wax dipped seal (always useful to have extra paraffin in a kit in any form) to store it longer than a year safely?

wolfsingleton (author)2014-11-03

I use hardtack myself in my kits, and I have a small suggestion. I use a water/air tight canister for hardtack storage and I use the open end as a cookie cutter to cut out the dough shapes before baking, which guarantees they fit perfectly. If you do them in chiclet size, they make for great additions to camp soup as sort-of dumplings.

I really like that sixlet size idea, i had never thought of that. Thanks for sharing it!

RemiZ (author)2015-03-09


cmbouchard1 (author)2014-10-29

Can we store them in a plastic bag?

krig2011 (author)2014-10-21

I make this stuff just to eat regularly, idk why but i love the simple taste it has :/ call me weird but i like it. Honey keeps for a good amount of time as well, don't add it to the recipe but instead drip some on the bread later :3

chan2005 (author)2014-01-14

can you microwave it

milkdud55 (author)2013-12-02

I love these i add suger for taste and eat this all the time! Thanks there good for hunting too becouse you dont bite straight into them you scuck on them wich makes way less noise.

BARKing (author)2013-12-01

OK I made some and tried it. Now I can make that earthquake survival kit that I have been putting off for so long. I can put it in there and forget about it until I am desperate enough to eat it. :). Grandfather always said the settlers were "tough as nails". They had to be to eat that stuff.

Good job.

supreme creator (author)2013-03-27

now i did not know what hardtack was but now i know i always thought hardtack was like some sort of hard object but u learn somthing new everyday

superdan (author)2013-01-16

do you cook it at all?

LiftAndLove (author)superdan2013-02-24

The last step says to bake :o

the potato (author)2013-01-15

ive always loved the idea i just dont have the chance to make it

superdan (author)2013-01-15

i love it and it will last for months :}

Pat_Maroney (author)2012-12-16

Could maybe be tasty with some "old bay" seasoning mixed in???

tjesse (author)Pat_Maroney2012-12-16

I researched the history of hardtack and decided to use the Civil War recipe. Hardtack made back then can be found in museums and is still edible. Adding spices is fine, I just wanted to share the base recipe.

HandySun (author)2012-12-16

This would go good with my Pemmican instructable as it has all the nutrients you need in a spoon full, but you will still be physically hungry due to only needing a spoon full.

whichcellular (author)2012-12-16

Looks nice

comac10 (author)2012-07-18

Has anyone thought about or tried honey?

Hellspore (author)2012-01-25

Hardtack broken into chunks and soaked in water makes for a very sturdy biscuit that you can fry with butter or bacon and the texture is that of a steak, that has to be cut with a knife. I have fixed this for students in elementary school Civil War talks and its always a big hit.

thegreat58 (author)2012-01-05

I keep a glass jar of these in my office, but also take it on hikes and campouts, the only thing I do different is add a teaspoon of garlic powder, keeps the bugs out, of the hard tack as well as you.

johnnypanic13 (author)2011-10-26

I'm going to make some this weekend and put it in with our winter "auto emergency kit" along with some homemade beef jerky and dried fruit.

Before I give it a shot, does anyone know if you can put a little spice in it without shortening the shelf life? Like garlic salts, or even something crazier?

chris73044 (author)johnnypanic132011-12-01

check this instructable out.... not mine... you are packing for winter in your area i will do this for tornado season here...

tjesse (author)johnnypanic132011-10-27

I don't pretend to know the science, but I don't use this as a tasty treat. I ate two of them, one warm from the oven and one after it cooled. They taste bland but not bad.

johnnypanic13 (author)tjesse2011-10-28

I tried a few different spices, mostly out of curiosity. I'm going to leave them setting out and see if they go bad any quicker.

I agree that they aren't bad even without anything extra. I'm I'm packing them away in a "winter emergency kit" so taste isn't really the important part anyway.

I also tried making them a little thicker, about 3/4 inch, and cooking longer. I was thinking if they dried out more, they'd last longer. But I wouldn't advise that, I tried to eat one of that batch and I think you'd starve before you could even gnaw off a chunk.

rfreyhol (author)2011-11-23

Reminds me of the crackers out of the MRE's! I imagine if you individually vacuum seal these they would last forever... Great instructable!!

GailC (author)2011-11-03

Great instructable. I imagine if, when you're eating it, dunking it in water or whatever you are drinking at the time would make them softer and easier to eat.

aweaver4 (author)2011-10-23

All-purpose, or self-rising flour?

tjesse (author)aweaver42011-10-27

Whole wheat is what I used.

Hoopajoo (author)aweaver42011-10-23

All purpose is what I use. You don't want this to rise or have any fermentation.

Hoopajoo (author)2011-10-23

There are stories of hardtack from the Civil War (1861-1865) being used for both the Spanish-American (1898) war and WW1 (1914-1918) and being perfectly fine. From my reading on it, it appears that the secret to it having a near indifinate shelf life is to:
a) Use no oils when making
b) Use no dairy (milk, butter,...) when making
d) Store in a light proof container (seems to improve taste as well).

lemonie (author)2011-10-18

A nice compliment might be Kendall Mint-Cake (it's something like 99% sugar)


About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a husband, a parent and an 8th grade science teacher.
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