What was Hardtack?

Hardtack, a simple flour biscuit, was a main staple of a soldier’s diet as there were a limited number of items that could be carried in a haversack on long marches and not go bad. Coffee, sugar, salted or smoked meats, dried or canned vegetables and fruit, and hardtack made up a soldier’s diet. The hardtack often became so hard that the men were forced to soak them in coffee or water or fry them in bacon grease before they were edible. Would you like to try it? Below is a simple recipe that you can make at home.

4 cups of flour
4 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of Crisco or vegetable fat
About 2 cups of water

Mix first three ingredients together and add just enough water to make them stick into a stiff batter. Knead and roll or spread out onto a baking sheet in a rough rectangle about _ inch thick. Bake for _ hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and cut into 3-inch squares. After cutting, press into each square a pattern of four rows of four holes using a clean nail or a similar instrument. [Note: just 'press' into the dough, don't punch through it, creating a saltine cracker-type look.] Turn each square over and repeat. Return to oven and bake another _ hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the hardtack inside to cool ­ remove and enjoy!

Explore The Haversack Store’s online selection of books, reproduction toys, maps, prints, and other gifts!

Lots more facts await at the Museum and White House. Make plans to visit today!