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    Long Shelf-Life Meals

    Hardtack Recipe

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    Hardtack is a very simple, durable type of cracker or biscuit made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. It was commonly used during long sea voyages and military campaigns before the invention of canned foods, due to its long shelf life. Here's a basic recipe for hardtack:


    1. All-Purpose Flour: 3 cups (plus more for dusting). The flour should be plain, without any raising agents.
    2. Water: 1 cup, adjust as needed. The water should be at room temperature.
    3. Salt: 1 teaspoon (optional, for flavor). Salt was often used historically for taste and preservation.


    • Large Mixing Bowl
    • Rolling Pin
    • Fork or Skewer
    • Sharp Knife or Pizza Cutter
    • Baking Sheet
    • Oven

    Wire Rack (for cooling)


    1. Preheat the Oven
      • Set your oven to 375°F (190°C). Make sure the rack is in the middle position for even baking.
    2. Mixing the Ingredients
      • In the mixing bowl, combine the 3 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly.
      • Gradually add water to the dry mixture. Start with about 3/4 cup and add more as needed. Mix by hand or with a sturdy spoon until a firm dough forms. The dough should not stick to your hands; it needs to be quite stiff.
    3. Kneading the Dough
      • Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it gently for a few minutes. The dough should become smooth and cohesive, but remain firm.
    4. Rolling Out the Dough
      • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Try to keep the thickness uniform for even baking.
    5. Cutting and Docking
      • Cut the dough into individual crackers. Traditional hardtack shapes are squares or rectangles, about 3x3 inches.
      • With a fork or skewer, evenly prick holes across the top of each cracker. This helps prevent the hardtack from rising and ensures it bakes evenly.
    6. Baking the Hardtack
      • Place the hardtack pieces on an ungreased baking sheet, ensuring they don’t touch each other.
      • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
    7. Flipping and Second Bake
      • After the first 30 minutes, flip each piece over and return them to the oven.
      • Bake for another 30 minutes. The hardtack should be lightly browned and very hard.
    8. Cooling and Storing
      • Remove the hardtack from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. It’s important that they cool completely and become thoroughly dry.
      • Once cool, store the hardtack in an airtight container. In a dry environment, hardtack can last for months, even years.

    Historical Context and Consumption Tips

    • Hardtack was a staple for sailors and soldiers due to its long shelf life. It provided essential calories, though not much in terms of taste or nutrients.
    • To eat, hardtack was often soaked in water, broth, coffee, or milk to soften it. This also made it easier to digest, as it's extremely hard and dry.
    • In some historical accounts, hardtack was crumbled into soups or stews to add substance.
    • Check out the History of Hardtack here.
    • Try hardtack in more flavorful recipes like Hell Fire Stew Recipe with Hardtack

    Enjoy your historical journey with this detailed hardtack recipe, experiencing a food that played a crucial role in many historical expeditions and conflicts!

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