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Food and Cooking

Try this hardtack recipe for emergency food that lasts indefinately

Try this hardtack recipe for emergency food that lasts indefinately

As a long term survival food,  hardtack has a proven track record.

by Leon Pantenburg

Hardtack is a traditional military ration that consists basically of flour, salt and water, baked into a cracker. Recipes abound, and it is possible to buy commercial versions.

Hardtack was a staple of military rations during the Civil War.

But the prepper/survivalist should consider using making hardtack. It is a good way to use up any surplus flour, and done correctly with the right recipe, the hardtack can last a long, long time.

The finished product is usually pretty bland-tasting, but I was so hungry on one Idaho elk hunt that it tasted great! Peanut butter and jam helps make hardtack into a tasty snack.

This hardtack recipe was sent in by a Survivalcommonsense Youtube viewer, Thomas Emard. It is worth adding to your preparedness recipes. (I love it when readers/viewers send in recipes and survival tips!)

If you want to make the longest lasting, nutritional hardtack, here is the original British thrice-bake method for naval use. Life expectancy is indefinite. Keep it dry and it will last well over 100 years.

Thrice-baked British Hardtack


-10 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I use Enriched)
-3.5 Cups Water (Filtered is ideal)
-3 Tablespoons Iodized Salt (Starting to see a pattern?)
-2 Tablespoons Salt Set-Aside


hardtack c Hardtack can be baked into whatever shapes are convenient.

Hardtack can be baked into whatever shapes are convenient.

-Preheat Oven to 250.
-Combine Salt and Water; stir until salt is no longer visible.
-Combine Flour and Saltwater into a dry dough. You should have to compress the dough in your hands for it to stick together.
-Place on heavily floured surface; roll out to 3/4 inch. A hardtack cutter is only $10. Invest in one.
-Cut with cutter, or with knife into roughly 3″x3″ squares.
-Create the ‘docks’ (holes). At least 16, but I use 25.
-Sprinkle tops with 1 Tablespoon of set-aside salt. Flip and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon.
-Bake on ungreased sheet for 3 hours; flip hardtack halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed. Remove hardtack when oven has fully cooled.
-Reheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake again for 3 hours, flipping halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed. Remove hardtack when oven has fully cooled.
-Reheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake a third time for 3 hours, flipping halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed.
-Let hardtack cool and harden for 3 days. Ideally, in the oven, but a counter top works just fine.
-Package and store. Salt and Desiccant packs are excellent preservers.

If kept dry, this will provide basic nutrition for an indefinite amount of time. We have hardtack from the Roman Empire that is still edible. Plan ahead, package properly, and this is a very cheap way to bulk up your supplies. I spent $50 on ingredients and I made over 5,000 crackers. So much that I actually gave a few boxes worth away to friends.

Keep in mind, the addition of ANYTHING else (honey, berries, butter, lard) will significantly reduce shelf life; from centuries to months.

By the way, Encamped Bread is a great alternative if you’re not on the march/in a survival situation. Same mixture, but bake at 250 for 15 minutes. Tack comes out soft and chewy, a great bread for collecting soup broth.

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View Comments (4)


  1. Leon

    06/24/2016 at 22:18

    I don’t know of anyone who would eat 100 year old hardtack. In the Old Court House Museum, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, there is a piece of hardtack from the Civil War siege. It is more than 150 years old.

  2. Flo

    06/24/2016 at 11:18


    In reading your comments the first thing I thought of was a saying that goes something like, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”. In other words, in an emergency or survival situation you may not have access to cooking facilities. There is also the possibility that if you do have cooking facilities at hand, you may not want to use those facilities for security reasons. I could say much more but just use your imagination and then plan from there.Flo

  3. Vic

    06/24/2016 at 07:36

    has anyone ever eaten hard tack that is 100 years old and how did they know that it was that old

  4. markw

    06/23/2016 at 03:25

    HARDTACK it is ok if you like eating a brick.In bad times why not make flour tortillias. U make what you want fresh. it is also a basic bread. only need water salt flour or if you prefer add some minced onions and herbs if you like jazz it up. Personally hardtack is ok if you want to preserve for years and years. Have a great summer stay cool everyone Mark

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Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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