Hardtack — A Great Survival Food Stock

You’ve all heard of hardtack. It’s a great survival food, because it is very nutritious and tasty, and also keeps extremely well when stored in the proper conditions. We’ll show you how to make hardtack using a simple recipe, and show how to cook it to make a delicious survival food.

Hardtack is an ideal survival food

What makes a good survival food? Well, first off, you need to be able to store it for long periods of time without spoiling. Second, it needs to be nutritious. And third, it should taste good. Tasting good is not really a necessity, but it sure is nice if you end up living off the stuff for a long time.

Hardtack satisfies all three conditions. Once it’s dried thoroughly, it will keep for years, provided it stays dry and away from pests. Edit: The Minnesota Historical Society has a piece of Civil War hardtack in its collection. It’s over 150 years old, and perfectly edible. Watch this video. If you make it with natural, healthy ingredients, it’s very nutritious. And if you know how to prepare it, it tastes delicious. Because it is completely dehydrated, it is relatively light and easy to transport, but because it is so dense, it packs a lot of nutrition in a small package.

Hardtack history

Hardtack has actually been around since the time of Egyptian sailors, but you probably know it better from the Civil War period. During the war, 3×3 inch squares of hardtack were shipped to both the Union and Confederate armies, making a staple part of a soldier’s rations. Typically made 6 months beforehand, it was as hard as a rock when it actually got to the troops. To soften it, they usually soaked it in water or coffee. Not only would this soften it enough for eating, but any insect larvae in the bread would float to the top, allowing the soldiers to skim them out.

Simple hardtack recipe

You can make hardtack almost identical to what sailors, troops, and pioneers have been eating (minus the weevils!) by following this simple recipe:

4-5 cups of flour

2 cups of water

3 tsp. of salt

Mix the flour, water and salt together, and make sure the mixture is fairly dry. Then roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness, and shape it into a rectangle. Cut it into 3×3 inch squares, and poke holes in both sides. Place on an un-greased cookie or baking sheet, and cook for 30 minutes per side at 375˚ (or 350˚ if you have a convection oven).


When it’s done, you’ll want to let it dry and harden for a few days, just out in the open. When it has the consistency of a brick, it’s fully cured. Then simply store it in an airtight container or bucket. To prepare for eating, soak it in water or milk for about 15 minutes, and then fry in a buttered skillet. You can eat it with cheese, soup or just plain with a little salt added. Any way you do it, it’s delicious!

5 thoughts on “Hardtack — A Great Survival Food Stock”

  1. Love it! My daughter can’t wait to try it! Will it work with other flours such as brown rice or spelt or rye?

    Have you ever tried keeping it longer than one year?

    Thanks so much for sharing. I must share this with my blog readers at Live Ready Now as well, if you don’t mind.

    Rose Petal@LiveReadyNow.com

    1. I’d be delighted to have you share this. I’ve eaten hardtack that was several years old, and it was fine. Spelt and Rye no problem, don’t know about brown rice, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

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