It may look like a regular biscuit, but hardtacks can have an astounding shelf life of 50 years. Hardtacks are also known across various names that resembles its purpose; ship biscuit, sea bread, and sea biscuit, for instance, symbolize how this cracker is used as rations for sailors hundreds of years ago.
Hardtacks have been a popular food icon because it can be used to sustain people in times of perishable food absence.
Long lasting and inexpensive, it is historically used in military campaigns, land migrations, and sea voyages. Now survival enthusiasts are now turning their heads on hardtacks for adventure purposes. So read on and know how to make hardtacks.
But before anything, you might want to check out some relevant information first about hardtacks.
Characteristics of Hardtacks
Hardtacks are literally hard, hence the name. It is a cracker made from water, salt, and of course, flour.
Be warned first hand, hardtacks don’t taste like those conventional regular biscuits that are usually sweet or tasty.
Just imagine the three ingredients required. Well, the point here is preparing something that could become extremely handy in times of needs, particularly survival situations.
Since it’s only made of three simple ingredients, you can’t expect hardtacks to give you something that can fortify your immune system or some sort.
Its sole purpose, probably, is only to fill your stomach and allow you to escape from hunger for the meantime in situations where no other edible food is available.
The bright side is it got some calories to fuel you up to get moving. A single hardtack also has an average of 16 grams of Total Carbs.
Other things in the nutritional chart such as fats (polyunsaturated, saturated, Trans, monounsaturated), sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber, potassium, protein, and sugar, have zero value.
Why Make Hardtacks?
It is hard and it has no taste, so why make hardtacks? This question might be revolving around your head for quite some time now but despite that, there are still reasons behind why you should make hardtacks.
It Has a Long Shelf Life
If stored in a container, preferably airtight, hardtacks can achieve a long shelf life that is far beyond the life of conventional biscuits. So even if you made it a year ago, you could eat your hardtacks when you need it today.
If you bake hardtacks today, you won’t have the slightest idea of how grateful you can get two years from now when you realize you have something to eat when you most need some food to eat.
Can Come In Handy In Emergency Situations
Imagine your city is devastated by a ravaging cyclone and everything’s flooded to the extent that grocery stores are closed for the whole week or so.
Now where will you find food when your stocks run out? That is if you have food stocks in the first place.
What if you’re a person whose lifestyle is eating out or ordering ready-to-eat food? Obviously, you have little to no food in your fridge to eat.
This is where hardtacks come into the picture. In times of calamity when perishable foods are no longer available, you can still eat something to relieve the hunger you’re feeling.
The hardtacks you stored in your uppermost kitchen cabinet could be the answer to surviving emergency situations.
It may be hard and generally tasteless but at least you still have food to eat – something you’re life could owe it upon.
Ideal for Survival Situations
If you’re an adventurous person who always loves to go hunting or just love to travel outdoors, having hardtacks in your backpacks or pockets could save you in times of real survival scenarios.
You will never know when unexpected things might happen. For instance, you are hiking in a mountain when your secondary bag full of foods accidentally fall off the edge of the cliff.
Suddenly, you’re not able to cook food. But if you have a bag storage that contains hardtacks in your primary backpack, then you’re still good to go.
You won’t go hungry while you hike down and retreat to your camp.
How to Make Hardtacks
Making hardtacks right in the mountains would be difficult. It would also be too hard to make it when a calamity already struck.
Considering this, it would be more practical to bake it beforehand. That way, you will have edible stuff ready to be consumed anytime or anywhere you need them.
So enough of the chit chat and let’s get started. This is how to make your own hardtack:
- 5 pinches of salt
- ½ cup of water
- 2 cups of flour
Grab these utensils:
- Rolling pin
- Mixing bowl
- Cookie Sheet (ungreased)
1. Preheat oven to a temperature of 350 degrees.
It is quite important to preheat your oven because it significantly affects the result of whatever it is you are baking.
Hardtacks, for instance, require preheating your oven before you bake them because the heat helps in baking the biscuit efficiently.
Most expert bakers agree when one says preheating oven is the most vital part of any baking process. Refusing to preheat your oven leads to some disadvantages which you wouldn’t want to witness.
Having not enough temperature can result in a cumbersome and undercooked baked stuff.
Typically, ovens would take 20 minutes before it reaches the desired heat. With that in mind, make sure that you wait for that time before placing the ingredients inside.
2. In the mixing bowl, pour in the salt and flour. Then mix.
The most interesting thing about making hardtacks is the fact that you only need three simple ingredients to make the recipe work.
Even better, these three ingredients can be conveniently found in your kitchen so you won’t need to go to the grocery store because they’re right there under your nose!
3. Pour in the water and mix the three ingredients thoroughly.
It would be easier in your part to mix the salt and flour first; though, apparently they won’t combine because they’re both solids.
The point here is to distribute them at least evenly so when you pour in the water, it would be faster to dissolve the main ingredients.
4. Observe the dough if it’s sticky or dry.
If you could observe either of the two, add more water or flour to the point that the dough doesn’t look that sticky/dry anymore. Add little water if it is too ‘dry.’ On the other hand, add little flour if the dough is too ‘sticky.’
5. Get your ungreased cookie sheet and place the mixture on it.
Please take note of the ‘ungreased’ part. A lot of baking recipes require you to grease your cookie sheet for some purposes, and you may even be getting used to it.
However, make an exception to this particular recipe. Do not grease your cookie sheet and just allow the three ingredients be.
6. Get the rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangular shape.
Depending on the shape of your cookie sheet or dish, it would be better to roll your dough in a rectangular manner.
7. Using the same rolling pin, gently roll it in the mixture until it is about a half-inch thick.
It is also ideal to make the hardtacks this thick.
8. Bake the dough for half an hour.
Now you can finally bake your dough and make sure you follow the right timing. While waiting, you can get more ingredients and make another mixture if you want to make a second batch to double your stocks.
9. After the said 30 minutes, remove it from the oven.
Now it’s time to divide the large hardtack into smaller pieces. Firstly, get a knife and cut the baked dough into 3×3 inch squares. After which, grab the fork and use it to make holes into each square.
10. Flip the squares (you can also do this after step 12).
After dividing the hardtacks, proceed by flipping each square. You still need to bake the other half.
11. Return the hardtacks to the oven and bake for another half hour.
After the said time frame, turn off your oven and allow the hardtack to cool while it’s inside.How to Make Hardtacks Soft
It has been mentioned above that hardtacks are hard. It may sound like a conventional ‘hard’ at first sight but you could be wrong. Hardtacks can be as hard as a rock. You read it right; rock.
This particular biscuit is even made half a year before it is sent to the troops during the civil war. Even that long time, hardtacks can still be as hard as a rock as history would prove it.
To soften hardtacks, you might need to dip it in hot coffee first; this is only applicable when you have the luxury to have a coffee in the first place. But what if you are alone in a jungle with only your backpack and a ration of hardtacks? You can still soften it when you soak in water.
By soaking it in water, not only you’re able to soften the hardtack, but you’re also able to skim out insect larvae in the bread or any other elements that you could have eaten otherwise.
Whether for fun or preparing for desperate real-life situations, knowing how to make hardtacks is a useful knowledge that could help you big time when you least expect it.
Just be careful when you bite it, though. You’ve been warned how hard it is. Dip it first in hot chocolate or any hot beverage of your choice. Then that’s it!