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Hardtack

Updated: May 6, 2021



During the Civil War, for soldiers in the field, salt pork, hardtack and coffee were their Holy Trinity. All too often the biscuits would become home to maggots and weevils. Hardtack was often referred to as Worm Castles, Molar Breakers, Sheet Iron, Dog Biscuits and Tooth Dullers. At the onset of the Civil War, hardtack rationed to the soldiers was left over from the Mexican-American War, fifteen years earlier. In fact, hardtack from the Civil War still exists today in museums around the world.



When soldiers needed to soften the biscuits for consumption they did this in a variety of ways including: whacking them with the butt of their rifles, soaking them in coffee, or softening them in water to then be fried in pork fat or added to a cast iron skillet meal using vegetables and potatoes found in fields. Some men even used the hardtack to write notes for their family and keep them in their pockets should something happen to them in the fields. There is no shelf life for Hardtack.


So, I had a hankerin' for some Hardtack. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I made the dough, made it into a circle to fit in my pan and then cut the slices, used my BBQ skewer to make the holes and baked it. Then I soaked one for a little while in water and fried it up with some onions. It was tasty but I could not imagine living on it for months at a time.


Then, I placed the leftover hardtack in a container and then after one year, I fried one up. I soaked it in milk and left it in the fridge for a day covered. Then the next morning I fried it up with some onions, bacon and eggs and it tasted a little bit like home fried potatoes.



Next year I will have another!!

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