Hiking food

Trail Meal | Hardtack, Sea Biscuit

Since I first started out hiking and backpacking Hardtack or Hartkeks, as I got to know them. Are a great quick and ready to eat lunch that can be very filling. Here are my favorite ways to eat Hardtack.

They come under many different names but are basically the same in many recipes. A biscuit of flour and water that has been twice baked to draw all the moisture out. Since the early days of travel and exploration, these have been part of the diet of ship crews and travelers alike. And still hold a special place in my backpack for those days that you just want to get food inside you without any preparation.

The different names for Hardtack

Usually, you can find Hardtack or Sea biscuit in the more popular Outdoor stores. At least in the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany, I have always seen them. They are known under different names all over the World, as such, you can use the following names in the below Countries:

The Netherlands and Germany: Hartkeks

English speaking countries: Hardtack, Sea Biscuit, Ships Biscuit, Ships Bisket

Japan: Kanpan

South Korea: Geonbbang

Feel free to send me an email if you want to see this list expanded.

Image credit: Von SKopp – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31609418

Outside of their official names, they have always seen widespread use in the different Militaries around the World. Where they have been nicknamed after tanks, armor, or similar hard materials names for their reputation for their crunch when you bite into them.

They have the incredible reputation of staying fit for consumption for many years. And if you want to see Steve of MRE info eat a 153 year old one. You can so there.

Favorite recipes or ways of eating

My all-time favorite way of eating Hardtack will always be with a can or soft can of liver pate. In Europe, and especially in the northern part you can find many different variations of Liver pâté that are either available in a hard can or soft. For example the Dutch Unox smeerleverworst, or the many German variations. You can even get them in Chicken liver, Duck liver, Pork liver, etc. Almost anything that has a liver has been turned into a Liver pâté.

On canoe trips in Sweden, hiking in the Netherlands or the UK. This combination has been a favorite of mine for many lunch or breakfast times. And not just me, but for many of the fellow hikers that were with me. It is however a taste that you either love or hate. Unlike their name suggests when still in their best by date, and from a good brand, they can be very tasty and not as hard that it would shatter teeth. Bit of an exaggeration in my opinion.

My second favorite way is to use them to add body to soups and stews that you can prepare easily with a dehydrator or store-bought items. Like the soup sticks that I grew up eating with almost every soup. They add a nice different texture.

It doesn’t stop there however, you can also eat them with things like:

Sweet Savory
NutellaShelf-stable cream cheese
Peanut butterLiver Pâté
JamVegetable spread
ButterCanned or pouch of Ham
Your favorite sweet stuffSalami
Other mystery meat

In this way, they can be seen as an alternative for Tortillas or other bread on hiking trips.

What is your favorite way of eating Hardtack? Would love to hear your inventions. Share it down in the comments below!

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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