Dump-It-In Hardtack

I first heard about hardtack as a child when reading stories of American pioneers. In my child’s mind I pictured these rugged pioneers bouncing along in their covered wagons, each one gnawing on their own rock-hard cracker the size of a medium pizza. I also read other long-ago stories with sailors and soldiers eating hardtack for every meal.

This food that everyone ate, but nobody seemed to like, captivated me. What did hardtack taste like? Would I like it? Was it really too hard to bite or chew?

The fascination with this hard cracker stayed with me. Then I started backpacking last year and needed take-along food that wouldn’t spoil. Hardtack came to mind. Certainly there had to be a recipe for it on the Internet.

And recipes there were. Not just one, but many. Although amounts varied, the ingredients in hardtack recipes stayed the same:  Flour, Salt and Water.

True to my dump-it-in cooking tendencies, my hardtack would have more than those three ingredients. And, since this would be taken on the trail I wanted it as nutritious as possible.

IMG_2774I used whole wheat flour in place of white, but actually measured and added the recipe’s amount of salt. Then I rummaged through my cupboards and pantry and pulled out chia seeds, soy flour, rye flour, sesame seeds, flax, and corn meal. After mixing dry ingredients together, I added the water.

IMG_2794Although the recipe said to roll the dough out to ½” thickness, I flattened it to ¼”. Instead of cutting the dough into 3” squares before baking, I cut it into bite size pieces–easier to eat on the trail. (This also necessitated a shorter baking time.)  I used a fork to poke holes in the dough, then baked it.

IMG_2800The dump-it-in hardtack tastes good and it’s ready for the trail. I pop a piece in my mouth and suck on it until soft enough to chew.

basic recipe for hardtack is given below. Try it, experiment. Have fun!

Mix together 5 cups flour (NOT self-rising), 2 cups water, and 3 teaspoons salt. The mixture will remain somewhat dry but more water can be added if needed.

IMG_2791Roll out to ½” thickness and try to keep it in the shape of a rectangle. Cut into 3” squares. Poke holes in both sides.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet (non-stick works best) and bake at 375°F (350°F for convection oven) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over the pieces and then bake another 30 minutes.

When done baking, let it sit on cooling racks for a few days to harden and dry completely. Store in airtight containers. To eat, soak in water for about 15-20 minutes. Blot off excess water and fry with hot oil in a skillet.

Eat as is or be creative, adding: Cheese, Pancake Syrup, Sugar & Cinnamon, or Whatever.


About Kathie Mitchell

Kathie enjoys country living, time with family, playing cornet in community bands, crafts, gardening, and writing.
This entry was posted in Country Living, day hike, Food, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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