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Old 17-07-2011, 00:42   #1
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Hard Tack and Swill

Heading out Monday for a week with my Scouts aboard the Skald, and for lunch each day we're hearkening back to days of old, with hard tack and swill.

I just made the bread today, by mixing 4 cups of flour with 2 cups of water, 4 tsp of salt mixed with the water. Add a little more flour while working the dough to make it very stiff, then roll out to 1/4-1/2 inch thick, then cut into bits and bake at 375*F for 30 minutes each side.

Once that was done for all my batches, I lowered the over to 200*F and put it all in there for another couple of hours to really dry it out.

I have some dry soup mixes we'll be making to go with the bread, and if I were really being accurate I'd water it down considerably... but I don't want angry boys aboard. Just enough to give them a sense of the old "portable soup" without being too fussy.



Will report next weekend on how it worked out.
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Old 17-07-2011, 01:01   #2
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

From 1863, US Army Assistant Commissary Lt. Col. Kilburn

Quote:
1863 SPECIFICATIONS
Assistant Commissary General of Subsistence - Lt. Col. C.L. Kilburn - Notes on Preparing Stores for the United States Army and on the Care of the Same, etc, with a few rules for Detecting Adulterations - Printed 1863
Under Hard Bread

Should be made of best quality of superfine, or what is usually known as extra superfine flour; or better, of extra and extra superfine, (half and half). Hard bread should be white, crisp, light and exhibit a flaky appearance when broken. If tough, solid and compact, is evident the fault is either in the stock, manufacture or baking; it should not present the appearance of dried paste. If tough and pasty, it is probably manufacture from grown wheat, or Spring wheat of an inferior kind. In all cases it should be thoroughly cooled and dried before packing. Kiln drying, where practicable, for long voyages, is particularly desirable; but if really and thoroughly dried in the oven, hard bread will keep just as well and its flavor is not destroyed. To make good hard bread, it is essential to employ steam; hand work will not do.
The dough should be mixed as dry as possible; this is, in fact, very essential, and too much stress can not be placed on it. Good stock, dry mixed, and thoroughly baked, (not dried or scalded) will necessarily give good hard bread. If salt is to be used, it should be mixed with the water used to mix the dough. Both salt and water should be clean. Bread put up with the preceding requirements should keep a year; but as a usual thing, our best bread as now made for army use, will keep only about three months. Good, bread, packed closely and compactly should not weigh, net, per barrel, more than 70 or 80 pounds; should it be heavier that 80 it indicates too much moisture. The thickness of the biscuit is important; it should not be so thick as to prevent proper drying, or so thin as to crumble in transportation. The quality of stock used for hard bread can be partially told by rules mentioned in the article 'Flour,' as far as they apply. The term 'sprung' is frequently used by bakers, by which is meant raised or flaky bread, indicating strong flour and sound stock. The cupidity of the contracting baker induces him to pack his bread as soon as it comes out of the oven, and before the moisture has been completely expelled by drying. Bread of this kind hangs on breaking; it will also be soft to the pressure of the finger nail when broken, whereas it should be crisp and brittle.
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Old 17-07-2011, 07:13   #3
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Don't forget about the weevils in the bread. It's not hardtack without them.
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Old 17-07-2011, 08:30   #4
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

I think you can still buy hard tack in Newfoundland. I believe it is made by the "Purity" flour company. The wife has a bag of it kicking around here somewhere. Anyone from the"Rock" would know.
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Old 17-07-2011, 08:46   #5
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

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Originally Posted by perchance View Post
I think you can still buy hard tack in Newfoundland. I believe it is made by the "Purity" flour company ...
Indeed.
Newfoundland and Labrador Purity Hard Bread Hard Tack

Workers at Purity Factories Ltd. have voted to accept a five-year contract, ending a four-month (Sept 2010 → Jan 2011) lockout at the St. John's confectionery manufacturer.
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Old 17-07-2011, 09:08   #6
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Hard tack and swill...wow...are you also taking away their cellphones and Gameboys?....that's pretty mean you know.
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Old 17-07-2011, 09:11   #7
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

do the boys get a hardship merit badge???? or is that only for removal of electronic game devices....
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Old 18-07-2011, 00:33   #8
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Hardship was last summer's activity... a week on a small island with no resupply, no cell coverage, no FM or AM reception, no "fresh" water (had to filter or boil everything), dehydrated foodstuffs, and no tents allowed. The theme was a rather hardcore wilderness survival effort, with lots of teaching, competition, and prizes. By the end it was nearly a Lord Of The Flies environment, but they bounced back pretty quickly and keep talking well of the event.

This, a daysail with a quaint lunch, is nothin' for these kids.
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Old 20-07-2011, 18:27   #9
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

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Don't forget about the weevils in the bread. It's not hardtack without them.
What was it from Master and Commander, the lesser of two weevils.
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Old 20-07-2011, 18:40   #10
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Hard tack is no problem. The bit I want is a 5 year old barrel of salted port.

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Old 23-07-2011, 13:04   #11
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Salted Port? Wouldn't that make it rough to drink?

They loved it. Asked for more, and gnawed at it for hours. Kids, these days, go figure. I ate it for lunch for 3 days, then had to demand a proper sandwich from that point out, no matter what they were eating. Added to a pot of soup made from dried stuff with a can of smoked ham tossed in, it wasn't half bad, but I wouldn't want to live on it for any longer than I absolutely had to. I think I'll keep a airtight container of it on board for future hunger, though, "just in case".
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Old 30-07-2011, 21:39   #12
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Here's what it looks like:



Gave some to my own kids tonight, they were not impressed. For other than nautical use in tough times, I can only imagine grinding it back down and using it to thicken a sauce or stew, as a suitable application. It simply doesn't soak through quick enough to work even as a crouton, or oyster cracker kind of addition to a chowder.

Tough stuff.
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Old 30-07-2011, 23:03   #13
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

Well you can soften it in coffee, or you can throw it into the stew you make and it will form passable dumplings after being boiled for a while.
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Old 30-07-2011, 23:13   #14
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

We had hot soup aboard, and after 1/2 hour of soaking, the outside of the biscuts were wet, but not at all permeated with fluid. I made these things like rocks. Bet you could skip one across the river pretty well, in fact.

As you can see in the picture, some of them got bubbles where I folded and rolled the dough, without getting it to stick fully. Those voids filled up with soup pretty quick, but the solid section remained very hard to the tooth, even by the end of the meal. I had a few thicker ones too (was playing around with shapes and sizes) that were twice as bad as these little things. Took one kid over an hour to gnaw one down to half its size, soup notwithstanding.
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Old 31-07-2011, 05:21   #15
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Re: Hard Tack and Swill

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Originally Posted by smithy View Post
Took one kid over an hour to gnaw one down to half its size, soup notwithstanding.
If you had painted a big yellow M on it the brat would have wolfed it down.




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