Introduction: Hardtack

Hard tack is super easy to make and lasts for... like forever if you store it right. This is a recipe from the Civil war and was designed to make you feel less hungry. It has little to no nutritional value, but it makes you feel a little more full. You can put cheese on it, apple butter, pan fry it in butter, or just eat it dry. Just like you would assume, it is super hard so try not to break a tooth.

**To my knowledge, this image is not under copyright. If this is incorrect and you can find the copyright, please let me know.

Step 1: Start With the Ingredients

There are only three ingredients, so this is great when you're really broke. Start with two cups of flour, add a cup of water, and a teaspoon of salt.

Step 2: Mix

If you have an electric mixer, now might be the time to use it. I prefer to mix by hand so I can make sure all the lumps are gone. It will be extremely thick, so expect a stiffness more than twice the stiffness of bread dough (if that can be a rough metric).

Step 3: Roll, Cut, and Poke

This might be a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you are using stoneware instead of baking sheets, place them in the oven to preheat as well.

Rolling comes next. The dough should be rolled out to 3/8 of an inch or so. Any thicker and the pieces are more dough-y than I'd prefer, thinner and they become too crisp.

I generally only use my marble rolling pin for this, but I thought it might try a different method. I cleaned a large wine bottle and filled it with water for this project. The weight was a good bit less, but I was able to get the desired result. If you don't own a rolling pin, this might be a diy solution you might want to try.

After you roll the dough, cut the pieces about an inch square. The remaining dough can be rolled and cut again or left oddly sized.

Poke holes in the pieces at an even interval all over the surface of the cracker. The more and more closely you poke the holes, the more crisp it will become. The reverse yields more dough-y results. I used a spare chop stick to poke the holes, but you may use a toothpick or wooden skewer if you prefer.

Step 4: Place and Bake

After the pieces are cut and poked, place them on your baking sheet and bake. Set a timer for 10 minutes and flip. Bake for another 10 minutes.

After they are cooled, enjoy! Or whatever.



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    20 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Is there a downside to making them thinner other than they get crumbly? Do they draw moisture more easily?

    1 reply

    The thinner you make them, the more crisp they become when you bake them. They are also a little easier to burn. As far as drawing moisture, I haven't had any problem with that, but I do live in the desert...

    All those sugary snacks out there don't stand a chance!

    my grandfather had a case of these from ww2 i think or korea, but i ate it, and like it.

    1 reply

    That would be part of his K-rations or daily dry ration. I think the make-up is slightly different, but hearty. This along with his D-rations and he would have been two thirds the way to a lousy s'more. haha

    Yes it will keep almost forever. I have seen Hardtack rations from the civil war. Looked just like the ones in the photo. Claimed to still be edible after 150 years. (better be hungry)

    This is a version of hard tack, not the one I grew up with, the fishermen use to take it out to sea, it is also known as brews. Going up in Newfoundland has a culture that has endured and survived all the hardships that comes from being a Island, the only way we could get supplies was by ferry, and if the ice became to thick then my ancestors, always had a way of surviving...and hard tack was one of many

    2 replies

    2 years ago

    The flour don't have nutritional value?!

    4 replies

    Not really no, it has a poor nutritional profile. It has calories, a little fiber and a few essentials such as niacin & folate, but compared to say, an apple or a potato, not a lot going for it :)

    The poster did say 'little to no nutritional value'. Flour is a processed grain and as such most of the good stuff has gone sadly :(

    Well put. If you have the means to grind your own flour, more power to you, but if you're living on the cheap a bag of flour might not cost you $2.

    I would think if you ground your own wheat, as they would have done, that you can get a bit more out of it.

    Damn no edit function! I should have said that back during the civil war, the flour 'should' have been more complete and given more nutrition.

    Have you used flours, other than wheat? If so, did it work and what kinds of flours did you experiment with?

    1 reply

    I used buckwheat flour with some success and I'll sometime grind oats and add them to the white flour in a ratio of 1/2:1

    I do not know if Purity,in Newfoundland as the copyright on this, but I do know that it is one of their products. I grew up there and it is used a lot you may want to check it out


    2 years ago

    the civil war origin is so fun! i wish you told us more about the historic background? i am from hong kong, i am not very familiar with the history!

    always heard the term 'hard tack' . very interesting! love the history and demo, thanks!

    Fun recipe. I like how you used a glass bottle as a rolling pin. It is probably what a lot of soldiers would have used.