Turning Flour into Hardtack Biscuits With Over 100 Year Shelf Life

C. Davis
By C. Davis February 23, 2015 12:22

Turning Flour into Hardtack Biscuits With Over 100 Year Shelf Life

Why stockpile flour (max shelf-life 1 year) when you can turn it into Hardtack Biscuits which will last indefinitely.

Hardtacks were the main food source for sailors for centuries (during the Tudor and later periods).

The Oldest Hardtack in the World (1852)

The Oldest Hardtack in the World (1852)

But the Civil War is what most people remember it from, and it was that war that proved the extreme longevity of this hardy biscuit. Much of the initial supplies fed to Union and Confederate troops were leftovers from the Mexican-American War, and so much hard tack was made during the Civil War, that it wouldn’t be completely eaten until the Spanish American War – a whole 50 years later.

A Hard Tacks contains Carbohydrates (main source of energy), Sodium, Potassium, Protein, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Copper, Zinc, Calcium, Folate, Magnesium, Manganese, Niancin, Selenium … I’m not going to write down the whole list because it contains a little bit of almost everything – just like flour (the main ingredient).

How to Make Hardtacks

You’ll need:
• 1 lb flour
• 1/2 pint water
• 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

bowl mixPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, and then pour the water. Mix all ingredients together.

Use extra flour if necessary to make sure the dough is no longer sticky.

However, be careful not to make the dough too dry. If you add too much flour, add slightly more water.


Knead the dough until it is easy to work with.

Use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangular shape. Hardtack was around a half inch thick, so don’t worry about making the dough thin.

Bake the dough for 30 minutes.

holesTake the dough out of the oven and cut it into large squares (around 3 inches by 3 inches).

Then poke four rows of four holes in the cracker using a stick (or a fork).

Flip the squares and return to the oven for 30 more minutes (even an hour just to make sure it gets completely dehydrated). Allow the hardtack to completely cool inside the oven.

hardtacks 4

Be careful when biting into a cracker, as they do get very hard when completely cool.

Soldiers often softened the crackers by crumbling them into coffee, or frying them with animal fat. Sometimes, hardtack was all a soldier had to eat for many days.

Just the fact that your great-great-grandson (whom you will never meet) – may taste your hard tack biscuits – makes you think.

The best way to store flour is to turn it into Hardtacks. Later on you can turn it back into flour whenever you want.

Food crisis may last up to 4-5 years and don’t think it can’t happen in the US. If the grocery shelves are empty, you are only nine meals away from anarchy.

I have something you need to watch. It’s much better than I am at explaining the threat. Watch it and learn why you need your own sustainable food source and how you can build your own eco-system capable of producing food in any crisis.

simple 2You may also like:

Ingenious Foods People Made During Famines

What’s the #1 Killer In Any Crisis?

Do You Make These Fatal Mistakes In A Crisis?

EMP survival and preparedness guide

30 Lost Ways of Survival from 1880 We Should all Learn

How to Make Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Super-Food

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C. Davis
By C. Davis February 23, 2015 12:22
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  1. chris January 23, 15:50

    Is the aqua food system available in paper or do they only come in DVD?. would rather have written is this possible. Please let me know.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Nikki January 24, 16:51

    Can you add anything besides water and salt to the hard tack? Like vanilla or sugar or anything like a sweetner?

    Reply to this comment
    • C. Davis Author January 25, 07:58

      no. It will spoil faster.

      Reply to this comment
    • Izzy February 11, 14:56

      Actually you can add some sugar to your hard tack. Sugar has a forever shelf life and does not support bacteria growth. You can also add a little hard liquor like Rum. Don’t use wines or beer.

      When I was doing re-enactments I made a ton of hardtack. It is still good today and it has been 15 yrs since I made it.

      Reply to this comment
      • young prepper May 9, 17:14

        that´s quite interesting,people always look at ¨modern marvels¨ when if someone wants something really mind blowing all they have to do is look at the past.

        Reply to this comment
  3. Karen SuzyQ January 27, 06:50

    I am gluten intolerant, which means I can’t eat wheat, barley, or rye. Do you know a recipe for hardtack using either cornmeal, oatmeal, or rice?

    Reply to this comment
    • C. Davis Author January 27, 08:49

      yes it can be made with rice for example, but I don’t know how the shelf life changes

      Reply to this comment
    • Izzy February 11, 15:15

      If you are going to use rice flour, use ONLY white rices. Brown rice has too much oil in it. I like Jasmine for the flavor. Rice flour ‘may’ shorten the shelf life some, but it will still store for many years. I recommend keeping small bottles of honey to be used with your hard tack. Honey lasts forever and also carries good antibiotic properties.

      The recipe C. Davis shared is excellent because it is a basic recipe that can, as was stated, be turned back into flour at a later date. That is a BIG plus.

      Reply to this comment
    • crazysquirrel March 1, 19:47

      search ‘gluten free hardtack’
      Several recipes.

      Reply to this comment
  4. mary March 22, 16:42

    thanks for sharing your info I am learning so much

    Reply to this comment
  5. Pat71 April 16, 12:48

    After making, how do you store it ? Zip lock bag,, box etc…. thanks

    Reply to this comment
  6. Iamacitizen2 June 1, 14:13

    How do you store these Hardtack Biscuits??? Metal or wooden boxes, plastic baggies???

    Reply to this comment
  7. Raquel June 19, 19:44

    Hello! You say it can be turned back into flour… How? I mean, ok, I could crumble it, but could I then use it to prepare other things like cake, etc? I agree that storing flour is pointless as it won’t last long, but how can rbis replace it exactly?

    Reply to this comment
    • Jen May 16, 20:08

      I have stored flour for many years. I just put it in containers with tight fitting lids and tape around the seal. I even use milk cartons or coffee creamer bottles. The secret is putting oxygen absorbers into the container at the bottom, middle and top. I have used some that was stored for 7 years and still good.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Chris August 12, 21:25

    put it in a DOUBLED plastic bag – spread out flat and secure. Then put it under the tire of your car to crush it.
    Trying to crush hard tack other ways will wear you
    plum out, or won’t work.

    Reply to this comment
    • Raquel September 16, 05:12

      ok. But then can I really use it as regular flour? For making bread, cake and stuff??

      Reply to this comment
      • Brad S March 6, 17:30

        I’m not trying to be a wise guy, but if that’s what you want it for, then why not make some & see for yourself?
        Then you can post your results here.

        Reply to this comment
    • Jen May 16, 20:15

      Chris, your comment brought up memories from when I was little. My Dad would spread out black walnuts, in the husks, on the driveway and drive over them to bust off the husk. We had stains on our driveway from the husks for a long time. But it got the job done.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Ambidor October 28, 17:50

    Rather than cooking can these be freeze dried?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 7, 05:02

      From what I have read and it certainly is not extensive reading, freeze-drying is very difficult to accomplish in a home environment. If what I have read is correct, the temperature drop necessary to eliminate water is very difficult to achieve with ordinary home equipment. It just doesn’t chill the item rapidly enough to achieve correct moisture levels in the food.

      Reply to this comment
  10. left coast chuck March 7, 05:06

    I store my hardtack in 2-quart mayonnaise jars. I really like my mayonnaise and buy it in the 2-quart size at Costco. I wash the jars thoroughly and dry them carefully and store the hardtack in them.That keeps moisture and bugs off the hardtack. Remember though, weevils provide protein which is lacking in hardtack.

    Reply to this comment
  11. left coast chuck September 5, 04:06

    I have been experimenting with making dried bread. I save the crusts, although any bread that is not already moldy will work.

    I cut the bread into a size that will fit the mouth of the jar. Any time I use the oven for cooking something else, when I finish baking or broiling, I turn the oven down to 125 degrees which is as low as it will go. I put the cubed bread in on metal trays and let it sit for several hours until it is completely dry. I leave it in the oven overnight to cool and immediately place it in a plastic jar and when the jar is full, put the lid down tight. The oldest bread I have is only a couple of years old. Of course it is dry and unpalatable in its dried state, but added to soup or soaked in bacon grease, it is tasty and filling. It is much lighter than hard tack and without the plastic jars probably wouldn’t last as long as hardtack, but in the plastic jars I expect the life expectancy to be indefinite. It basically is croutons but without the flavoring. I suppose I could roll them in chili powder or such to add flavor but I will have to think about that a bit. If nothing else, they will make trade items or possibly handouts to folks I feel need a handout.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Nate November 5, 16:00

    The plastic coffee/peanut butter cans can be great for storage as well. Even though it is all but impossible to get all of the coffee/peanut butter smell out of the can, you can either store your hard tack in them as is and have some added flavor or seal them in a plastic bag and then into the can. Myself I don’t mind the hint of coffee or peanut butter in my hard tack

    Reply to this comment
  13. GAYmer April 24, 22:35

    thanks cause I am making a essay on pirates and what they eat and this web site relay helped me so thank you so much

    Reply to this comment
  14. Miss Kitty May 23, 03:56

    Instructibles website has a “hardtack” recipe using oat flour and applesauce. Sounds good, but storage-wise a question mark. No gluten, though.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Sharon Lee Lockhart December 18, 20:22

    Is this the same food stuff that is called “Pilot Crackers” in preparer sites?

    Reply to this comment
  16. CRS January 2, 16:52

    Has anyone tried baking powder (a non-spoilable ingredient) to ‘lighten up’ the hardtack to make it less ‘like a brick’ dense?

    Reply to this comment
  17. Vic January 13, 16:55

    Can i use 50 50 mixture flour and whole oats. What well be the shelf life of the combination?

    Reply to this comment
  18. Muskrat April 25, 23:59

    It must be stored in airtight container. I prefer large glass jars with tight lids. I put some in a five gallon crock and put a plywood lid over that. One year later it was full of little black bugs. That was five years ago. The ones in glass are still pristine.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 19, 03:28

      Either plastic or glass will work. The problem with plastic is it is hard to get the odor of whatever was in the jar out. A peanut butter jar will retain that odor for a long long time now matter how thoroughly you wash it. It doesn’t seem to harm the material stored and if you like peanut butter, no big deal. I use mayonnaise jars because that is what I have. The residual mayonnaise odor doesn’t seem as strong as peanut butter, but that is just in my opinion. Someone who doesn’t like mayonnaise might find it objectionable.

      Of course, the problem with glass is that it is breakable and heavy. No system is perfect. You just have to decide which is less objectionable.

      Reply to this comment
  19. DarbyO'Thrill August 12, 15:14

    All-purpose flour is what we should use, correct? Self-rising would seem counter productive.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Linda Rose November 13, 10:36

    I see someone asked if whole wheat flour can be used to make hard tack but the question wasn’t answered. I use organic whole wheat flour and want to know if it can be used to make hard tack?

    Reply to this comment
    • rbhyland December 22, 19:39

      Linda Rose:

      Whole wheat flour has oil/fat from the germ of the wheat berry. That oil will go rancid over time.

      Reply to this comment
      • Eowyn July 16, 14:57

        They certainly did not have the highly refined garbage flour that we have today, and their hardtack lasted plenty long. Grind your own, and you can sift it to get the extra wheat germ out. Or leave it in and experiment.

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