Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Make Your Own Hard Tack For Long Term Food Storage

One of the basics of preparedness is food. Some of the companies that sell 
pre-packaged foods include pilot bread in their food. This is because it is very durable. It was used as food for soldiers and sailors for centuries, because of how well it lasted.

Another name for pilot bread is hard tack. It was usually soaked in some kind of liquid to soften it, since it is quite hard.

Sometimes hot liquid was used to cause bugs and maggots to float to the top where they could be skimmed off. 

If the pilot bread is kept dry and prepared right it will stay preserved for a year or more. It is still popular in Alaska. Hawaii still uses an updated version without the longevity of the traditional pilot bread.

When the pilot bread was intended to last for long periods, it was kiln dried or baked as many as four times. Getting it very dry is how to make it last longer. Pilot bread is supposed to have been used when it was as much as 50 years old.

You can make your own pilot bread to save money on your preparedness supplies. A nail can be used to make the holes in it. There is disagreement as to whether the holes should go all the way through it. Most traditional pilot bread was cut into squares or rectangles, although Alaskan pilot bread is round.

Here is a recipe for pilot bread or hard tack.

"Hardtack Recipe by Kathy Kleiman (MCHA Co. E)

6 parts flour

1 part water

Knead dough until thoroughly mixed. 

Roll out on a floured surface until about 

1/8 inch thick (or there abouts). Cut into 

squares about 2 3/4 by 3 

1/2 inches.

Pierce the hard tack 13 times with the

 tip of a knife, making sure hole goes all 

the way through the dough. The 

Tinsmiths sutler makes a hardtack 

"cookie" mold that is just great for this. 

They advertise in the CW News." (A nail 

can be used to make the holes in each 

square. They were placed in four rows of

 holes four high. They were about 1/2 

inch apart.)

"Bake at 325 for at least an hour, turning

 over the hard tack once. Check to see 

that it is cooked through completely. 

Take out & let cool overnight to get that 

real hard & dry feeling. Some people

bake at 300 for a couple of hours, just to

 get it real dry. The finished hard tack 

will still look pale."

I have not done this yet, but I believe 

that a food dehydrator would substitute 

for a kiln to help remove the excess 

moisture that could cause spoilage.

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