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Tasty tasty Hardtack?!

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Half-Cocked

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To say I love food would be an understatement. I love the food of many countries it’s one of the things that’s made this country so great!

So to no surprise to me my love of food and history intersect again.

My earliest recollection of this is when I purchased a biblical times cookbook as a child. I wanted to know what they would of eaten back then. I was a curious little bugger some things never change.

Hardtack was apparently invented in 1792. Pretty smart stuff as it could feed someone for months on end. Useful during sailing missions and the like.

I am going to whip up a batch tomorrow. Has anyone tried this? Just curious. Hmm wonder if this was the first known “mre”.
 

Calum

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'morning,

I routinely make it in the winter for the following campaign season. Flour, water, a dash of salt. I bake it at 400 for about half an hour. Then, once all of my batches are done, I put it all in the oven overnight at the lowest setting.

From what I've read, the "super fine confectionary" flour works best, although I've just used "regular" flour thus far. I also make a CS version that's round, and I use corn meal with just enough regular flour that it binds (straight cornmeal will fall apart, found that one out).

Jim, Dixie Tinsmith kitchenware makes the best hardtack cutter that I've seen. You don't need one, obviously. But when doing bunches, it definitely makes it easier. Grease the inside so the dough doesn't stick.

I'm usually the only one who will eat it at events, but I'm not offended. :)

Good luck!
Mike
 

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'morning,

I routinely make it in the winter for the following campaign season. Flour, water, a dash of salt. I bake it at 400 for about half an hour. Then, once all of my batches are done, I put it all in the oven overnight at the lowest setting.

From what I've read, the "super fine confectionary" flour works best, although I've just used "regular" flour thus far. I also make a CS version that's round, and I use corn meal with just enough regular flour that it binds (straight cornmeal will fall apart, found that one out).

Jim, Dixie Tinsmith kitchenware makes the best hardtack cutter that I've seen. You don't need one, obviously. But when doing bunches, it definitely makes it easier. Grease the inside so the dough doesn't stick.

I'm usually the only one who will eat it at events, but I'm not offended. :)

Good luck!
Mike
That is awesome! I am glad someone here has experience with it in case I run into issues.

Just curious how do you prepare yours afterwards? Soak in water, milk? I Came across a web page says some even nibble at it as is just slowly. Also said can last up to 20 years! That’s impressive.
 

Eterry

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Way back in the early 80's I got a hold of a Dixie Gun Works catalog, used (I was too poor to come up with the $5.00 Turner wanted for it). I was about 17, and liked cooking as well. There was among the dozens of useful tidbits of info a recipe for hardtack. Turner said it tasted like crackers...boy was he wrong. His recipe didn't call for salt, and I recall making one big batch....no one liked it...especially me. Years later, being issued MRE's, I discovered someone had sold the Govt on hardtack, but called it crackers...at least these had salt. I just ate them with my meal, along with lots of water, (I'm sure that was the main idea...hydration).

I've thought about making it again, but promise I wont use Turner's recipe...may he rest in peace.
 

Carbon 6

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Hard tack is like trying to eat particle board. If it doesn't break your teeth, it will give you digestive troubles.

I prefer something edible.
Try these:

Tea biscuits
18th Century
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
4 oz melted butter
Mix well add milk to combine into dough, (sticky cookie dough consistency).
Roll out on floured board 1/8 " thick, cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter and
place on a baking sheet and dock with holes using a chopstick right before placing
in a 250-300 F oven 15 -30 min. Check with a toothpick or until golden brown.
 

tenngun

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Hard tact is a bit older then 1792, mostly called ships bread instead of hard tact
Biscuit means to bake twice. You just need long and low, you don’t need a hot oven at any time.
Salt added to your mix improves its flavor but plain flour water works.
I think it was Loylist Dave who told me to add about one cup of bran to each four cups of flour to reproduce the rough flour used back in the day. It does make for less of a tooth breaker.
Broke up it’s a great breader for meat, makes a wet lobscose type soup thick, and can make ‘puddings in a haste’ and has a plain but noticeable nutty flavor
 

JB67

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Joseph Plumb Martin's Memoirs of a Revolutionary War Soldier makes no reference to "hard tack" but does refer to "biscuit," and "sea-biscuit." The latter is described as a hard bread, hard enough to chip a rat's tooth.
 
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A recipe for you, brown fat back cut into 1/4/ inch dices in a skillet break your hard tack into bite size chunks put in skillet with the browned fat back and all the grease rendered from the fat back stir a bit and enjoy, SKIILYGEE a civil war favorite. Or you could use the hard tac for targets. This stuff will last for ever also make sure your dental insurance is up to date. I have contemplated making gourmet hard tac perhaps some cheddar cheese powder and a bit of dried onion flakes and bacon bits. Or dried beef and crushed beef bullion cubes you would want to omit any extra salt. May be some dried blue berries or straw berries adding powdered milk for a breakfast line, just break it up in a mug and add water. Not period correct for sure but better than eating dried wall paper paste.
 

tenngun

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Bread is a loaded word. I don’t known if it makes loaf.
Broke up to grains then roll salt pork in it fry till brown and serve with mustard is real good
Broke up and mixed with water and a fat and salt you can make a nutty flavored pancake.
Break up to a powder mix with a fat, throw in some raisins and sugar nutmeg maybe a dash of the creature, bag and boil it makes a good pudding, or leave off the raisins and nutmeg add pepper and finely cut onion or shallots or garlic roll in little balls it makes good dumplings.
 

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I never tried it, but I wonder if hard tack could be pounded and or ground back into flour and used to make bread ?
I believe the video posted by spence10 does mention using ground hard tack or rather biscuits as a type of flour. I have to watch it again.
 

Dave James

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Back during the winter of 58 my great grandfather and an old trapper we used to hunt with,made and carried hardback and Dominican,I liked the Dominican,only way to eat the hardback was soaked in milk and a little surgar
 

Calum

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'morning,

Generally when eating it, I'll just nibble at it. If I have coffee, I'll let it soak a bit, but generally it's middle of the day and I don't have anything handy. I've never been fond of soaking it in water, just a personal preference. Crushing it up and mixing it in with something (bacon, eggs, whatever, works well).

The cornmeal version that I mentioned does tend to fall apart quickly when soaked. So that's more of a quick dunk. The flour version gets to stay in the coffee longer.

Mike
 
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The closest modern cracker that I could find is what we call soda crackers, then they are a ways from hard tac. These soda crackers are good crushed up with some warm milk and nutmeg or cinnamon. You can usually find them in the Amish, Mennonite markets. They are round and kind of look like a hard biscuit.
 

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