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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do you know the difference between hard tack and soft tack?

Nautical Term Tuesday – Hard Tack and Soft Tack

mainesailsblog.com | Feb 7th 2012 11:17 AM

Do you know the difference between hard tack and soft tack?

Hard tack is the nickname for a simple type of biscuit made from flour and water, and sometimes salt. Soft tack is another name for bread baked at sea.

Hard tack is a long-lasting cheap biscuit that was used in the absence of perishable food, most commonly during long voyages at sea and in the military. Other names it goes by include pilot bread, shipbiscuits, sea bread. Some of the more amusing names it's called include tooth dullers, sheet iron and molar breakers. Today it remains a common pantry item in Hawaii and in Alaska is still a part of the normal diet. The G.H. Bent Company in Milton Massachusetts still makes hard tack and is sold to Civil War re-enactors. In 1801 Josiah Bent began the company selling 'water crackers' that would last during long sea voyages from Boston and then used as a food source for gold prospectors who made the journey to California in the last 1840's.

Should you find yourself wanting to try hard tack here is a recipe to one from Company A, 3rd Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry – a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the memory of Maine's role in the American Civil War.

Soft tack is the opposite of hard tack – fresh bread meant for consumption in a short period of time.

If ships back in the 1800's had Chef Annie Mahle in their galley there would be no complaining of any kind! I can't imagine that she would not have found a way to make even hard tack taste good. And soft tack? Have you had her Roasted Red-Pepper Bread, Irish Soda Bread or Focaccia?!

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