I’ve read a lot of historical fiction. Anything set on a ship or during a war pre-Napoleonic era (and even some after) talk about hard tack. I’ve been fascinated by how to make hard tack, and have tried a couple of different recipes. I first made hard tack in college for a history class, and have made it a couple of times for our homeschool history classes. I’ve had mixed results for what people thought of it.
How to make hard tack
Ingredients: 5 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, 2-3 teaspoons of salt (this is one of the things, everyone had an opinion on, my kids like a hair more salt for flavor)
- Stir together the flour and salt.
- Add water, and mix well. Your dough will be a little sticky.
- Roll it out flat. We also tried it out pretending they didn’t have a rolling pin and just smashed it flat. That’s what this picture is from.
- Slice into cracker size. This is very important to do before, it’s much harder after.
- Poke little holes in the dough with a fork or toothpick. We decided a fork allowed us to do this much more quickly.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes flip, and then another 30 minutes. We baked it at 400 for 30 minutes, and ours were not cracker like, and also molded after a few days in a plastic bag. Which says we baked it wrong.
Some funny stories I’ve read about hard tack
As I mentioned, I’ve read a lot of historical fiction books. Most books featuring hard tack in them have some funny bit.
- One story talked about the hard tack having bugs in them, and the sailors would bet on which bit of hard tack could travel the furthest. The winner got the hard tack that traveled furthest (more protein! also EWWWW!!!!!!)
- In a Civil War book I read, a soldier broke a tooth trying to eat some hard tack that had hardened a bit too much.
- Most books talk about the people eating hard tack soaking it in something to soften it. Most often water, but sometimes milk or a random alcoholic beverage. This always amused me.
Tomorrow, we’ll put our hard tack together with a few other items to make a nice Sailor’s meal.
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