Authentic ships bisket recipe found on savouringthepast.net
Jas Townsend who runs savouringthepast.net writes: This Ship’s Bisket is known by many names. Most of the time it was called just bisket, sometimes it was called hard bisket or brown bisket, sea bisket and ship’s bread. Now many today might want to call it hard tack, but hard tack is really a 19th century term that was popularized during the American civil war.
These 18th century biskets are not like today’s buttery flaky version that we serve along with sausage gravy for breakfast. These biskets were not made to be enjoyed; they were made out of necessity.
Ship’s captains faced a continual challenge of having enough food on board to feed a large crew for a long journey. Food spoilage was really his greatest concern. Fresh bread rapidly became moldy on long trips and stored flour would go rancid and bug ridden, so hard bisket was really born out of necessity.
It was a means of food preservation. If it was prepared and stored properly it would last for a year or more. In addition to preservation, the bisket form also helped in portability and in dividing the rations when it came time. Soldiers and sailors typically got one pound of bread a day and biskets were usually about four ounces so when it came time to distribute them, each sailor or soldier would get four biskets.
Biskets from London were considered to be the highest quality. They were the most resistant to mold and insects. They were really the standard by which all the other bisket maker’s aspired to, but not all biskets were the same quality.