|150 First Manassas|
Hardtack is a cracker. I’m familiar with the hard, square, almost tasteless food from my years re-enacting with a Confederate Civil War company. As cook, I learned how to make them.
Hardtack wasn’t a pleasure food. Wrapped in brown paper and tied with a piece of twine, the cracker fit in a pocket or knapsack. Soldiers needed food that was easily carried, wouldn’t spoil or go bad. Now the modern army has MREs Meals Ready to Eat - a definite step up.
About 2 1/2 inches square with holes dimpled across the surface the cracker resembles a modern saltine. Only hardtack was hard.
Hardtack needed to be softened to eat. It could be soaked in a cup of coffee or its substitute Chickory until it was breakable. Or fried in fatback until the melting lard made it malleable.
I baked Hardtack for my company.
The recipe is simple.
4 cups flour
1 cup water or enough to moisten the mix
1 teaspoon salt.
Mix in a large bowl until smooth.
Roll out on a floured surface.
Cut into squares.
After the first time I bought a cutter from a sutler at a Re-enactment. It’s hard to make the small holes evenly without one.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a low oven 250 degrees for three hours or until hard, really hard.
The crackers won't brown.
Cool then wrap in brown paper and tie with a piece of hemp twine.
The resulting crackers are hard as a rock. They will last forever. I had soldiers carry mine for years.
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