GOTH Kit – Example

GOTH (Go to Hell) Kit

This post is largely an excerpt from my book: The Simple Survival Smart Book available as paperback, kindle, or audiobook from Amazon.

It struck me recently that I have made several posts in the past about what kits to use/have immediately available in a crisis but I have not posted an example.  This post is an attempt to begin to rectify that.  Let me preface this post by saying that there is tons of advice and checklists available in books and on the internet about the kinds of kits to have, how many, and what to put in them.  This is none example and is the one I have in all my family’s vehicles.

What kit and/or kits each person builds is going to reflect their appreciation of what they need as well as what level of resources they have to devote to preparedness.  There probably is no 100% correct answer when it comes to what to put into a kit as everyone’s needs and requirements are a little different.  I have three kits that I keep prepared at all times.  The GOTH kit that is the subject of this post, a Semi-BOB (Bugout Bag) that I tote around with me everywhere, and a larger BOB Bag based off an ALICE ruck that I keep in the basement if I have to unass the house in a hurry.  The GOTH is not so much a survival kit, although it has that function, as an everyday emergency kit that has everything needed for two people to survive in relative comfort for 24-28 hours except for water of which I always have a ½ gallon or so in my vehicle anyway.

Now, the thing to remember when planning any kit be it GOTH, BOB, or household storage is that there is no single correct answer.  That is because everybody’s needs are different.  Sure, there are general needs that everybody is going to have such as food, clean water, shelter, first aid supplies, and fire making. Everyone is also going to have specific needs that only apply to them such as glasses, medicine, specific dietary requirements, perhaps even disabilities that must be accounted for.  The kit I describe is pretty generic and it works for me because other than wearing glasses I have no specific requirements and I am not going to carry spare glasses in my car kit anyway as I already have a pair in my glove box.

As you plan your kit take care to keep space limitations and absolute necessities in mind.  A mistake that everybody makes when planning kits is taking too much.  In a SHTF scenario too much gear can be just as deadly as too little.  An analogy is the gear soldiers take into combat.  Every new guy to combat tends to tote too much gear.  Gear they don’t need and won’t use but have decided they have got to have.  As you gain experience you start to throw things away or leave it in the rear and strip your gear down to bare essentials.  Since you won’t be able to use your kit in a real-life SHTF scenario until very bad things happen planning and practice will have to make up for the real thing.  If possible, try to do an experiment and live off your gear for a few days to figure out what is essential and what is not.

Lastly, quality matters.  Prepping can be expensive and while it is possible to prep on a budget there are some things you absolutely don’t want to pinch pennies on and water filtration is one of them as are storage food and a good knife.  How ironic would it be if you got everything together, have to use and die from some food or waterborne illness or your blade breaks with no replacement because you decided to go cheap?  Like everything else in life, where survival is concerned nothing beats careful thought, consideration, and planning.

EXCERPT BEGINS HERE:

This compact kit can be carried in the car, on the boat, or in a small ruck/backpack while hunting, hiking, exploring, etc.  Most of the contents will fit in an Army 7.62mm ammo can which doubles as a pot for melting snow and device with which to dig an emergency snow shelter. (However, if you can carry it, include a small shovel.  It is far, far better than trying to use an ammo can.)

GOTH Kit laid out

Carrying container

  • US Army Surplus 7.62mm ammo can (can be purchased at local Army Surplus tore or online)

General Items

  • 550 Parachute Cord (25 feet)
  • Signal Mirror
  • Matches (2 boxes)
  • Magnesium Fire Starter
  • Bic® Lighter
  • 40 Alcohol prep-pads for first-aid & use as fire starters
  • Compass (learn how to use)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Fishing line, hooks, split shot leads
  • Pocketknife
  • P-38 GI Can Opener
  • Money
  • Garbage Bags (3 large size bags)
  • Dental floss (It’s strong and useful as thread for sewing, fishing line, or for lashing branches for improvised shelters.)
  • Gardening Hand-Shovel (carried externally)

First Aid Kit (Recommended contents)

  • Moleskin
  • Sterile pads (2 x 2 and 4 x 4)
  • Sterile Gauze
  • Neosporin
  • Band-Aids
  • Aspirin
  • First Aid Tape

Food & Water

  • Water Filter Straw
  • Iodine Water Purification Tablets
  • Emergency Rations (3 day supply for one person)

Optional/Nice to Have Items

  • Instant Soup or tea (3-4 packages)
  • Camp Cup/Canteen Cup
  • Emergency Wire Saw
  • Emergency Tent
  • Campfire starter sticks (optional)

GOTH Kit packed

All contents will fit in a US Army Surplus ammo can, I use a 7.62mm can that I have from long ago. It is waterproof and closes very securely.  If there is extra room (there should not be) you can keep things from rattling in the can by wadding up some wax paper and stuffing it around the items.  The wax paper stays dry and also doubles as a fire starter.

My G.O.T.H. Kit weighs 8.5 lbs. and the ammo can fits perfectly behind the back seat of my pickup.

I have recently started a new project taking select military FMs and TMs in the public domain that are available as PDFs but hard to find and/or expensive as hardcopies and releasing them as affordable hardcopies for people to add to their prepping libraries. Let’s face it, if the SHTF one of the first things to disappear will be the internet and shortly after that electronics will run out of juice without reliable electricity. The advantage of hardcopies is paper doesn’t have to be recharged.
I have the first ff these already available. It is the Operator’s and Direct Maintenance manuals for the M1911A1 .45 pistol. The -12 and -35 in army parlance it is available through Createspace at: https://www.createspace.com/6456315
The next will be FM 23-35 Combat Training with Pistols and Revolvers from Oct 88. I will probably be releasing these at the rate of one every other month or so for a while as I have a list of about 30 manuals I would like to make available. There is a dizzying array of manuals that the military has put together over the years and not all of them deal directly with closing with and destroying the enemy. Many are directly relatable to non-combat prepping tasks. I will primarily be using the Army versions of these manuals because they are what I personally am most familiar with.
If anyone has ideas for good manuals that should be available as hardcopies but are not lets discuss which ones should be out there. Thoughts?

NAT Geo just made all USGS maps easily printable from Home

I posted about free downloadable USGS maps of the United States last year here: USGS Topo Maps for Free.  The official USGS site is great for finding accurate small-scale (1:24,000) topo maps of whatever part of the US you would like to have.  The problem with the site, or at least the maps you can get is that they don’t easily print at home because the sheets are sized for large format printers that are typically only found at commercial printing centers forcing you to download the files and pay to have them printed.

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic has fixed that with the debut of a new site on their page called PDF Quads that lets you search for and download home-printable copies of every USGS quad for the US.  NatGeo has packaged each quad into a 5-page package that includes:

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the Quad in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS Quads cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography

They are sized such that you can print them from home, cut off the white edges, and tape them together to have a navigation ready map of the quad you want.  The page includes and interactive, zoomable map similar to the google maps interface that lets you quickly find the map quad you are looking for and download it.  I have included the PDF file for Mine Mountain in the Nevada test site so you can look at it and see what the NatGeo file looks like.

To repeat, the link to the NatGeo maps page is PDF Quads.

Mine Mountain Map PDF file

I am on the lookout for map products as useful the USGS quads for the rest of the world but while there are some good map sites out there, I have yet to fins free map products anywhere else in the world that come even close to matching what the USGS provides for the United States.  If anyone knows of some good sites please eave a comment.

Hydration Chart for Those that don’t Know

With warm weather hopefully just around the corner for all of us I recently found this little gem and thought it would be a good idea to share it around. Dehydration is not a joke. I have only ever seen one person killed from it but I have seen literally dozens of people fall out for it during my career in the military. If you out and about in the heat, stay hydrated.

The rule we used to tell the privates when I was a Drill Sergeant was “if you don’t need to piss even vaguely you are not drinking enough water and are already in the first stage of dehydration.”  We regularly enforced hydration because people just don’t think about it until it is too late.

Dehydrated

USGS Topo Maps for Free

Did you know you can get USGS Topographic Maps for free?  I didn’t either until I started screwing around on the web looking for maps.  The place to go is the USGS Map Locator & Downloader.  From that page you can find the map you want and download it to your computer or device for browsing or printing.  The interface is quite simple and and it is easy to download.  You can either print the maps out at home or take the file to a print shop and you can get the whole sheet printed on a plotter so you can laminate it.  I even found a shop near me that will print large maps on waterproof material so I don’t have to screw around laminating them and making them bulkier than they need to be.

The USGS Map Locator interface page

The USGS Map Locator interface page

An Example of a BOB First Aid Kit & My Current Kit

I put out an example of a BOB Bag First Aid Kit Checklist in The Simple Survival Smart Book. Since then I have continued to tweak my gear and the mix of stuff I pack in my bag. There are several considerations for what to pack, especially in a First Aid Kit. The first I think is the size of the pouch or bag you are going to carry the kit in and the second is what conditions or injuries do you expect to have to treat. The second consideration does much to determine the first. With those two considerations in mind I developed my list.

I don’t expect to have to treat any major traumas in a bugout situation but I do include minimal gear to treat at least myself should one occur.. In fact, most major trauma’s I can think of will probably be fatal shortly after you experience them in a SHTF situation. I do have some major trauma stuff in my kit but most of my material is oriented towards treating minor injuries to avoid those becoming major issues. Remember, an untreated scratch can become infected and turn life-threatening in the inherently unsanitary conditions of a true bugout situation.
Remember that A BOB kit is not the all-encompassing kit that will has everything you need. Actually the everything kit is called a hospital and you can’t fit one of these in your back pocket. A BOB kit is the minimum you think necessary to survive 72 hours so a first aid kit should in your BOB should do the same. Keeping that in mind I have thus far come up with the following list of First Aid supplies I want to have in my BOB.First Aid Kit # 2

Medium Pouch – I have a CONDOR EMT Pouch, which is awesome for the organizing loops and pockets inside that keep everything from spilling out when I open it.
Utility Pouch with Speed Clips – This pouch is not exactly the same as my ten-year old Blackhawk pouch but it is substantially similar with the exception that it uses Blackhawk Speed Clips instead of MOLLE straps for attachment
1X3 in fabric Band-Aids, 30 ea.
Medium Butterfly Wound Closures, 10 ea.
Large Butterfly Wound Closures, 10 ea.
4×4 Gauze Pads, 5 ea.
Nitrile gloves, 3 pair – These are not sterile, they are just to keep me from getting someone else’s blood all over my hands
Cortizone Cream, 1oz. tube
Benadryl Itch Relief Stick, 1ea
Polysporin Ointment, 1 Ounce
Neosporin Cream, 0.5-Ounce Tube
Neosporin Antiseptic Spray, 0.26 Ounce
Alcohol Prep pads, 30 ea – These also make handy Fire starters
Waterproof bandage tape, 1 ea. 30 foot roll
Regular 1 in wide fabric bandage tape, 2 ea. 30 foots rolls
4 1/2 inch Kerlex roll, 1 ea.
200mg Ibuprofen tablets, 1 ea. 250 count bottle – This is soldier candy and I always have a bottle on me.  I take some of the cotton out and add more tables with just enough cotton to keep it from rattling too much
Medical Shears Combination Pack, 1 ea
4″ Israeli Battle Dressing Bandage, 1 ea.
C-A-T Combat Application Tourniquet All black version, 1 ea.
Military Cravat, 1 ea.

Interior view when packed

Interior view when packed

I pack just about everything in ziplac bags to further waterproof them.  I use 8 mil heavy duty bags because I found that they are much more durable than even freezer bags and thus worth the extra cost.  They also come in multiple different sizes.  The two sizes I use in my First Aid Kit are 5X8 inch and 3X5 inch bags.

This kit is subject to adjustment and is constantly adjusted based on things I think of and experience actually using the kit because I have two of them, one on my BOB that I tote around daily and one on my GOTH kit.  The basics remain the same but I am constantly tweaking it in the search fr the elusive perfect kit for me.  In fact, the more I think about it, there probably is no standard First AId Kit that suits everybody, at least not one that is light and portable.  My kit is optimized for the needs of my wife and I and neither of us have any chronic diseases that require medication to manage so I have none of that stuff in the kit.

Packed with IFAK Components

Packed with IFAK Components

I sat down and did the math and the complete kit counting that for some items I had to buy way more than I needed, ie, a 100 pack of butterfly closures or an entire box of bandaids, the cost for my kit, pouches and all is just north of $200. The most expensive items other than the pouches is the CAT tourniquet at $30 and the Shear set at $20 so just those two items are roughly 25% of the cost with the pouches being another 25%.  Then again, I made a conscious decision to not be a cheapskate on medical supplies, I don’t want to regret not getting something because I was not willing to spend an extra $5-$10.

I think the best advice for a First Aid Kit I can give is to take a basic setup and then evaluate the contents removing those you do not think you will need or don’t know how to use and adding things you do or might need based on your individual circumstances.

Johnny Cake # 2

Here is the report on Johnny Cake.

First off, let me describe the Johnny Cakes that comes out after cooking. Mine came out as lumps abut 1 ½ inches around. Much like Hardtack, after you let it dry and cool completely it actually crumbles into chunks with a little effort. Johhny cakes are 95% corn meal with a mixture of milk and oil to hold it together while cooking. My pieces all weigh between 40 and 50 grams each. According to the USDA degermed, enriched, yellow Cornmeal provides 370 calories per 100 grams. Doing High School math that means that it has 3.7 calories/gram so a piece of Hardtack between 40-50 grams has provides roughly 148-185 calories, that is a tiny bit more than hardtack. Like 2-3 calories more. A bouillon cube provides roughly 5 calories per cube. As with Hardtack I use two cubes for two cups of broth. It totals out to a Johnny Cake and broth meal consisting of two bouillon cubes and one Johnny Cake providing 162-205 calories, not much, but not insignificant either and if you use two pieces of Johnny Cake you get a decent mid-day meal that you can easily supplement with jerky or something else as Civil War soldiers commonly did.

The fixings in a civilized garage

The fixings in a civilized garage

Johnny Cake as I have it packaged

Johnny Cake as I have it packaged

I cooked it up in the same way I did the Hardtack. I used 2 cups of water, brought it to a rolling boil and then dissolved 2 cubes of chicken bouillon in it. Once the bouillon cubes had dissolved I added the crumbled up Johnny Cake to the broth and boiled it for another 5 minutes. I vacuum packed my Johnny Cakes and added an oxygen absorber to each package because since they are made with milk and oil they will probably go rancid a lot faster than Hardtack will. I also came up with the bright idea of sing the butt end of my camp knife to crush the cake up while it was still packed to hopefully avoid a huge mess and losing most of the Johnny Cake to scattering. It actually worked out quite well as you can see in the video.

The finished product

The finished product

As to eating it. Johnny Cakes actually add a little flavor to the broth unlike Hardtack which essentially tastes like cardboard. The difference is the same as the difference between eating a piece of white bread and eating a piece of cornbread. The Johnny Cake also softened up better. Where Hardtack tended to just turn into a doughy mass, the Johnny Cake breaks up into smaller chunks and has a more gruel like consistency. I think of the two Hardtack and Johnny Cakes, I prefer the Johnny Cakes as they simply taste better and are more palatable. Johnny Cakes are bulkier than Hardtack though so they take up more space, even if they don’t weigh any more than Hardtack. I will probably end up packing slightly more Hardtack than Johnny Cake in my BOB and GOTH bags simply because I think Hardtack will keep better in the long-term than Johnny Cake.


Plan on supplementing Hardtack and Johnny Cake with something else. I personally have sugar, salt, some dried beans, and jerky in my kit as well several cut down MREs and some commercial rations. In my BOB I only have about three days’ worth of hard rations but in my GOTH I have about two weeks’ worth of hard rations and a selection of salt and spices to make food taken from the wild taste better. In all I have about 25% of the load in my GOTH bag is food or food prep items.  My GOTH bag is going to get totaly repacked and reconfigured in a month or so when my ruck mod gets back to me though.

All that being said, neither Hardtack nor Johnny Cakes are nutritionally complete as the armies on both sides of the civil war recognized. Hardtack and Johnny Cakes were just one component of a daily camp ration that consisted of: 12 oz of pork or bacon or 1 lb. 4 oz of fresh or salt beef; 1 lb. 6 oz of soft bread or flour, 1 lb. of hard bread, or 1 lb. 4 oz of cornmeal. Per every 100 rations there was issued 1 peck of beans or peas; 10 lb. of rice or hominy; 10 lb. of green coffee, 8 lb. of roasted and ground coffee, or 1 lb. 8 oz of tea; 15 lb. of sugar; 1 lb. 4 oz of candles, 4 lb. of soap; 1 qt of molasses. In addition to or as substitutes for other items, desiccated vegetables, dried fruit, pickles, or pickled cabbage might be issued. The marching ration consisted of: 1 lb. of hard bread, 3/4 lb. of salt pork or 1 1/4 lb. of fresh meat, plus the sugar, coffee, and salt. Source for both ration lists is the “The Civil War Dictionary” by Mark M. Boatner III.

Book Review: The Survival Medicine Handbook, 2nd ed. by Joseph & Amy Alton

Since most people are neither EMTs nor doctors a medical reference guide for use in survival situations is a must have. You cannot go much wrong with The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way 2nd ed. by Joseph and Amy Alton. I had the first edition and have had the second edition since shortly after it was released in 2013. It is a significant update from the first edition and an outstanding book in its own right.

The authors are a husband and wife team. Dr. Joseph Alton is a surgeon and OB/GYN while his wife Amy is a Registered Nurse Practitioner. The book itself is 512 pages of text divided into 10 topical sections. It also includes a reference list, glossary of terms, and index.

This wide ranging book is not just a step by step guide to treating injuries and common ailments. The authors take a whole person approach and talk about not just how treat but also how to manage health in a survival situation. All the recommendations are based on decades of medical practice and it is evident that some serious thought has gone into the requirements a group medic would need in a situation where modern medical care is no longer available. I particularly appreciated the realistic appraisal of some of the less mainstream medical methods and treatment options they assess. The authors also bluntly state that many diseases and injuries that are almost considered routine in the modern world were frequently deadly prior to the advent of modern medicine and why said diseases should be seriously planned for in the event of a collapse.

One of the most informative and I thought well written, sections was the one on essential oils. It has become all the rage in prepping circles to talk about essential oils as if they represent some sort of panacea. A realistic assessment of the benefits of essential oils and the results, or actually lack thereof, of scientific studies on their efficacy are addressed. They do not discourage the use of essential oils, but they caution that the supposed benefits of many oils have not been reliably studied and are therefore almost wholly anecdotal in nature. Maybe I like this section the best because I am personally skeptical of essential oils since most of the people that sell these come off as snake oil salesman or even worse, fanatics about the benefits these oils provide. I will admit that I have some essential oils in my own toolkit, but they are a supplement and not a main or even close to an essential element in my kit.

One of the best sections from an information standpoint was the section on wound closure. The detailed description of how to anesthetize and suture skin wounds was most informative and one of the most well written sections of its kind I have seen. The discussion of environmental factors and how to properly manage them to help maintain health was also very good. But the best section of the book from my perspective was that on hygiene and sanitation. This is a subject that is most often either ignored or glossed over in most survival books and I have yet to figure out why as poor hygiene is much more likely to kill you in a survival situation than are some roving band of Mad Max style bandits. I think it is mostly ignored because it is not sexy. I admit that talking about how to keep clean and how to dispose of waste is borderline boring, but it is a vital subject that every prepper/survivalist should be knowledgeable about.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way 2nd ed. is a fairly hefty book, weighing in at slightly over two pounds. I am not sure that I would tote this around in my BOB bag as it represents a significant weight investment. The print version is also somewhat pricey at almost $31 as of this writing. That being said, it is well worth the price and this outstanding book should not only be on every preppers shelf you should read it too. I highly recommend this book.

 

Johnny Cake # 1

I made my Johnny Cake on Monday.  I used the below recipe to make it.  One thing I have to say up front is that the recipe says you should be able to use a spoon to drop it onto the baking pan.  That was not my experience.  When I mixed everything up it was kind of sticky but more clumpy than liquid.  I ended up making balls of the dough with my hand and putting them into the pan like that.  There was also more waste than I thought there would be as you can see from the picture of the finished product. I have not tried to prepare them yet so I can’t speak to how they taste.

The Fixings

The Fixings

Mixed up in the bowl

Mixed up in the bowl

Just before going into the oven

Just before going into the oven

Regarding storage I am not sure these are as amenable to long-term storage as Hardtack because they have both milk and oil in the recipe.  I am going to vacuum seal these just as I did the hardtack but I think I’m going to throw an oxygen absorber into each package in an attempt to extend the shelf life.  I will probably have one for lunch next week sometime and put the video of that together and post it then.  I also have video of making Johnny Cake but I have not put it together yet.  It will go up as soon as I am done editing it as well.  As usual, I will put up a post when the video is posted.

Here is the recipe I got from the Arkansas History Hub at: http://www.arhistoryhub.com/civil-war-make-your-own-hardtack-and-johnny-cake/

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

Necessary Supplies for Johnny Cake:

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cookie Sheet

Instructions for Making Johnny Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with butter or vegetable oil.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in the mixing bowl.
  4. Add all wet ingredients to the dry.
  5. Mix together until the batter is very stiff.
  6. Use a spoon to drop the batter onto the cookie sheet, very much like making “drop biscuits.”
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

 

Hardtack -How to Prepare It & Eat It

I had the time today so I decided to go out to the garage and prepare some hardtack to eat for lunch.  Two reasons for this. 1. I wanted to know if it was worthwhile for me to make more (if it tasted like shit I was not going to add it to my BOB/GOTH) and 2. I wanted to see how long it would take.  I made it using the gear I would use in a collapse and do use when I go camping.

Campingaz Twister Stove and Canister

Campingaz Twister Stove and Canister

The stove I have is a Campingaz Twister+ that I bought in 2003 before I deployed to Iraq.  I used it throughout my tour there for coffee and other stuff and have used it ever since.  I bought my stove in Europe and have not been able to find the same stove in the US although there are similar stoves out there and I can at least buy gas bottles here.  The closest thing I have found is the Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove and I can use the Coleman Butane / Propane gas canisters with my stove.

Implements of destruction

Implements of destruction

I used my Olicamp Mug and initially attempted to use an MRE spoon I have used for years but it melted in the boiling water so I pulled out my combo utensil fork/spoon/knife to finish with.

 

Hardtack and Bouillon vacuum packed

Hardtack and Bouillon vacuum packed

I have taken and vacuum packed my hardtack and bouillon cubes for storage.  I chose to pack them in essentially single serving packages.  That is, one or two squares of hardtack per package and two bouillon cubes per package. The red cubes are beef bouillon and the yellow cubes are chicken.  I used Wyler’s chicken bouillon cubes because those are the one I like the best flavor-wise.  I got them at the local grocery store but if you want, they can also be ordered online at a significant markup from what you will pay in the store.

The recipe I used for making my hardtack came from an article on the Arkansas History Hub at: http://www.arhistoryhub.com/civil-war-make-your-own-hardtack-and-johnny-cake/

Here it is:

Necessary Supplies for Hardtack: 

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • Salt (5-6 pinches)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Fork

Instructions for Making Hardtack

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add all dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, and then add wet ingredients. Mix all ingredients together. Use extra flour if necessary to make sure the dough is no longer sticky. However, be careful not to make the dough too dry. If you add too much flour, add slightly more water.
  3. Knead the dough until it is easy to work with.
  4. Spread the dough onto the ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangular shape. Hardtack was around a half inch thick, so don’t worry about making the dough thin.
  6. Bake the dough for 30 minutes.
  7. Take the dough out of the oven and cut it into large squares (around 3 inches by 3 inches). Use a fork to poke 16 to 20 holes into each square.
  8. Flip the squares and return to the oven for 30 more minutes.
  9. Allow the hardtack to completely cool inside the oven. Be careful when biting into a cracker, as they do get very hard when completely cool.

Now, let me describe the hardtack that results.  It is a three inch square roughly 3/8 of an inch thick and hard as a rock.  After you let it dry and cool completely it actually crumbles into chunks with a little effort.  Hardtack is essentially wheat and salt.  My pieces all weigh between 40 and 50 grams each.  According to the USDA white, all-purpose, enriched, unbleached Wheat flour provides 364 calories per 100 grams.  Doing High School math that means that it has 3.64 calories/gram so a piece of hardtack between 40-50 grams has provides roughly 146-182 calories.  A bouillon cube provides roughly 5 calories per cube.  I use two cubes for two cups of broth.  It totals out to a hardtack and broth meal providing of two bouillon cubes and one square of hardtack providing 160-200 calories, not much, but not insignificant either and if you use two pieces of hardtack you get a decent mid-day meal that you can easily supplement with jerky or something else as Civil War soldiers commonly did also.

MY cup with tick marks

My cup with tick marks

I prepared the broth first.  I made two cups (16oz.) of broth.  My cup has handy tick lines on the side to aid in measuring the liquid in the cup.  To make the broth you first heat the water to a rolling boil and then drop the bouillon cubes in and stir until they are dissolved.  Reduce the heat to simmer the water and then crumble the hardtack into the broth.  Keeping the broth at a simmer let it boil for another 5-10 minutes so the hardtack soaks up the water.  After you remove it from the heat let it sit for a bit (another5-10 minutes) so that it cools enough to eat it.  The hardtack should soften to the point where you can chew it.

IMG_3013

Prepared Hardtack

It actually does not taste very bad.  The broth itself is pretty good and the hardtack had essentially no flavor so it soaks up the broth flavor.  The hardtack takes on the consistency of rubber and is quite chewy when you rehydrate it.  The best description I can think of for their consistency is shitty dumplings.  Think dumplings from Chicken and Dumplings that are not quite cooked all the way and are therefore rubbery and sticky at the same time.  They don’t taste bad, they essentially taste like nothing.  I can see why Civil War soldiers hated it so much.

Hardtack will keep you alive but it is food you will get no enjoyment out of.  Since keeping you alive is the point of survival food and flavor is at best a secondary concern hardtack is suitable.  I will be making more hardtack and adding it to both my family’s food storage and putting some in both BOB and GOTH bags.  It is light, compact, and calorie rich.  The perfect survival food.

The next experiment is making Johnny Cake.

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