How to Make Hardtack – The Original Bugout Food – Prepping 101

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“Sustenance in the absence of perishable foods” is perhaps the most concise definition of survival food I have found. I just got that from the Wikipedia page on Hardtack, which is a hard cracker made of flour, water and salt, known for its long term storage and sustainment properties. It doesn’t matter if survival food tastes good, if it is hard to eat or if it constipates you for a couple days. If you don’t eat, you die. What can you do today if you believe we are in for a very rough patch, coming soon? You can stock up on long term storeable survival food, and the cheapest of those that I have found, in calories per dollar, is Walmart flour. This is how you make hardtack.

5 lbs. of Flour
4-6 cups of water (depending on grade of flour used for thick paste)
6-8 tablespoons of salt.

Roll to 1/3″ to 1/2″ thick.
Cut to 3×3″ squares.
Punch 16 holes per cookie with a chopstick or 1/8″ dowel.
Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees.
Bake another 2 hours at 250 degrees.
True hardtack is baked another 2-3 times historically, but I haven’t tried it.
Store in insect proof container.

If you are on a very tight budget, I would not bother with purchasing Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to store your hardtack at first. We probably don’t have 2 years ahead of us before things start to boil out, and a regular bag of flour on the shelf with no protection will last ten times that. Hardtack is still around from the Civil War, still edible.

I would get some kind of metal container though, like a brand new 30 gallon metal trashcan. There are stories of sailors crumbling hardtack into their coffee, then skimming the dead weevils off the top, but you will probably want to avoid that if possible.

If you Google around, you’ll find several different recipes for hardtack online. Some of them omit the salt, and is not a good idea. The salt keeps the dough from leavening and rising as you cook it, killing airborne yeast, and it also provides salt that your body needs when you eat it. I use iodized salt, as explained in the video, because your thyroid needs iodine. Also beware of recipes that tell you to bake the cracker at 350 degrees for a shorter time, and the recipes that include oils. All of those will taste much better, but they will not have the traditional indefinite storage life of true hardtack. Commercial Pilot Crackers” also look like hardtack, but the are just crackers with a longer shelf life than regular crackers, and that are hard and durable for travel. They aren’t hardtack.

If you have invested in one of more of the survival cooking products I have tested, you’re way ahead of the game. As I explained in the video, if you have even a waffle iron and a cooker, your food choices will be much more palatable than hardtack. Fresh cooked food is always going to be more palatable, but you do have to worry about fuel, and if you are traveling, the weight of the stove. It is a very very good idea to have some survival food ready to eat, but most of that is expensive, when compared to flour. Canned food will fall in the 200-600 calories per dollar, compared to 4,600 calories per dollar for flour. From my research, hardtack is a pretty good investment of your time and money. One five pound bag of flour, made into hardtack, will carry a grown adult for a week solid. That is less than $2 per week per person.

Traditionally you soak hardtack in water before eating it, and if possible, the stories say that soldiers would try to fry it with some sort of fat or oil. Soldiers usually have supply lines, and when they don’t, like in the blockaded South during the Civil War, hardtack was considered a luxury food just the way you see it here.

I hope to have the time to take a look at some of the other famous survival foods, like jerky, pemmican, and variations of hardtack that are made with corn flour. You can Google around and experiment yourself. My goal this week was to show you that anyone can plan for collapse. You are not powerless. For less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee you can make enough prepared food to survive a month. Don’t take food for granted. Western opulence isn’t going to last forever, and every single day that we put off the great reckoning that is coming, the worse it is going to be for us. No survival plan is going to guarantee survival, but take a few hundred bucks and set yourself up with rice, beans, and hardtack, and you’ll be a lot better off than most. Ten years early is better than one minute late.

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