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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hardtack and Survival Bread


Hardtack and Survival Bread





Hardtack is basically a large cracker made simply from flour, water, and salt.  It was known as "sea biscuits"also.  It lasts for many years if stored properly so is good for long-term storage for emergency food.  It was a main food source during the civil war, Union and Confederate.  The Minnesota Historical Society even has a video on Youtube of an authentic square of hardtack from the civil war era that is 150 years old and still edible!  (click here)

   
Hardtack
5 cups flour
2 cups water
3 tsp salt

Just mix the ingredients together, knead for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface, and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 3 inch (or so) squares.  You can use a pizza cutter.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30 minutes and then flip them over and cook for another 30 minutes.

Mix

Roll

Cut

Mine were more rectangle than square, but 
this is how many a batch makes, two trays. 

All done!

When they are done, just let them sit out for a few days to make sure they dry thoroughly and then store in air tight containers.  You can even store them with an oxygen absorber for good measure.
When you want to eat it, soak it for a little while in water, milk, or even coffee to soften.  You can then fry it in a little butter, oil, or shortening.  The soldiers would fry it in pork fat and would even soak it until it was doughy and then cook it over a fire.


 After they were cold. I took a small piece and 
soaked it in water for about 20 minutes.

Then, I fried it in a little butter just until hot to give it a try.  
It was still very chewy but crispy outside and  tasty. 

  
Flour and water biscuits are said to date back as far as the Third Crusade in 1189 and have most likely been around since the beginning of time.

Wikipedia has a nice article on Hardtack with more details and a few photos if you want to check it out.  (click here)

 sea biscuit

Small Update -I have some more mylar and oxygen absorbers so thought I'd make another batch to put away.  
I made a 1-1/2 batch as I figured they would fit on the pans and then did it twice, so this is 
basically 3 recipes worth of Hard Tack.  :)  I wasn't planning to photograph it so didn't try to get
 the pieces all the same size, etc. 

There is also a "survival bread" you can make.  You wouldn't want to make this for long-term storage as it has oil in it and wouldn't store well; but if you will be on the move, you could whip up some of this and not worry about having many ingredients on hand (including yeast).  It's lightweight, and you could put some in your backpack. 

 

Survival Bread



1 cup flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
Mix the ingredients together and knead for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  You could also cook it over a fire or on a grill if the power was out.  

Here's another Survival Bread recipe that sounds interesting.  (click here)

See also my post on making Bannock Bread. I like to make this over the fire sometimes, wrapped around a branch.  See the post for more info.  (click here)
Bannock Bread


1 cup flour2 tbsp powdered milk (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. shortening, oil, or butter
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