posted on Sep, 9 2011 @ 03:16 PM
I have been a Civil War reenactor for the past 17 years. I have had many different variations on hardtack. Some I've made myself and some I've bought.
G. H. Bent Company was contracted by the US government during the war to make hardtack. The story has it that they found the original recipe and
equipment that their company used to make it in an unused portion of their factory some years back. Since that time they have been making hardtack in
the "traditional" sense. I will say however that the recipe has been changed slightly to make it more palatable and is more of a novelty item than a
functional version of the cracker. That however only pertains to the durability of the cracker. I have never had a whole cracker survive in my
haversack. As far as how they keep, I have some in my cabinet in a closed plastic bag (not ziploc) that I bough about four or five years ago and they
are still good to eat.
As far as my own recipe for hardtack I use:
4 cups flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of salt
You mix the ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough until your arms are about to fall off. After that you continue kneading the dough until your
arms actually do fall off. This is the most important step of the process to ensure that it is fully mixed. I roll out the dough on a flour dusted
counter to be about a quarter inch thick. I then cut it out in squares that are about four inches by four inches. Then take a clean standard size nail
to poke holes in the cracker, usually about 12 to 16. This helps to ensure that it cooks evenly. The result is a rock hard cracker that will keep, is
durable and will help to sustain you. I generally supplement this with jerky and dried fruit. I usually only eat this way if we are doing an event
that has no static camp and little opportunity for cooking. As the saying goes "it tastes like s**t but you can live on it." Trying to make hardtack
more nutritious and better tasting is hard to as altering the recipe in the wrong way will make it tastier to bugs, molds, fungus and the like. In my
opinion it would be better to supplement rather than trying to make it a one meal biscuit.
On the other hand I have numerous Civil War period recipes that involve hardtack, most of which are actually pretty good. If their is interest, and
maybe if their isn't, I'll write a thread on it when I get home and have access to my books. Hope this helps.
edit on 9-9-2011 by mus8472