More Advice About Making Hardtack
My husband and I used to do Civil War re-enacting. I made some hardtack to bring along. We discovered that you can crush it to dust and use it as thickening in stew. We also came to the conclusion that it can be used for plates in your body armor or use it to hammer nails. LOL. My second batch I made I put garlic salt in. Much tastier. I sealed up one batch in a Ziploc bag, the other with my vacuum sealer approximately five years ago. The Ziploc batch was not as crunchy as the vacuum packed stuff, but still edible.
Leave the sugar out is my advice, unless you’re making sweet tack. Hardtack is useful for thickening stews and gravies (just smash a few chunks up and put them in to dissolve and gel up), and sugar (honey, fruit, whatever you prefer) is an ingredient I’d rather add when the meal needs it than all the time.
Also, if you want the modern equivalent of sweet tack and hard tack, think Nice biscuits and Saltines. Both are already hermetically sealed, you can pack them further to make sure they last a few years or even decades, and you can still also make and pack sweet and hard tack. It’s good to have choices…
I made my first batch of hardtack about 30 years ago from my grandmother’s recipe which does not include the sugar. She started married life in 1888 at age 18 and lived in a dugout for the first 4 years. She knew hard times and what did and did not work. Her recipe differs only in that the biscuits were “pricked” using a fresh peach tree switch – lol. Meaning she would prick very small holes in the biscuits about twice the diameter of a toothpick. Each biscuit was pricked about 4-6 times. I believe this was done to decrease the cooking time and to insure the biscuit was completely baked throughout. My kids loved them then and they still ask for me to cook up a batch occasionally. Got grandkids now starting to ask for them and I want to keep them grounded in reality.