Steve M. is a YouTube user that shares reviews of military food.
But he doesn’t just explain the military rations. Instead, Steve collects historic military rations, eats them, and reviews them in YouTube videos.
He has gathered quite a following thanks to the shock of what he’s eating.
In one video, Steve ate some old peanut butter from the Korean War.
Yet, the most fascinating (or gross) thing Steve has eaten was a Civil War hardtack from 1863.
These days, the U.S. has scientists who develop food that might not look the best but will last a long time.
And even with these food scientists, most military rations are designed with a shelf life of seven years (IF they are stored at 60 degrees or below).
But the U.S. didn’t have this expertise during the Civil War.
Obviously, the company that made the hardtack for the Civil War didn’t expect it to be eaten in this day and age.
But hardtack is a time-tested food that can still be used in military and survival situations.
So, what is hardtack?:
Hardtack is a cracker made from water, flour, and salt, designed to replace perishable foods that weren’t an option.
It was commonly used during wars and on ships.
The biggest advantage to hardtack is that it’s easy to store. If it is kept in a dry, airtight package, it has been known to last over 15 years on the battlefield.
Another thing about hardback is that it goes well with other foods. Plus, it can be consumed without any preparation.
Before the development of MREs, hardtack was a staple ration for militaries.
Why hardtack is a good survival food:
It doesn’t need refrigeration and can withstand transportation and storage on ships.
And because hardtack is a hard cracker, it doesn’t soften or change texture over time.
So, whether hardtack is one month or one year old, it will likely have the same texture and taste.
During the Civil War, it was common for soldiers to eat about ten pieces of hardtack per day.
Often, they would dip the hardtack in soup or add other moisture when eating it.
The most important ingredient in hardtack is flour because flour contains proteins, fiber, carbs, and vitamins.
Each hardtack cracker contains around 80-100 calories and 16 grams of carbs, and the carbohydrates make hardtack a filling food.
These factors make it a satisfying food during periods of rationing.
But, while hardtack provides an increase in energy, you wouldn’t be able to survive on it for a long period.
Whether you make your own or buy it, storing hardtack the right way is the key to making it last.
Ideally, you want to keep it in dry, airtight containers made of glass or plastic.
Also, you can vacuum seal hardtack to protect it for long periods.
If the hardtack gets even a little damp, it can lead to insects and mold, and you should throw out the affected hardtack.