by Gerald Rowan
Crackers of all kinds are a staple for hikers, backpackers, and trekkers. They are light, keep well, and have a variety of uses—from cheese-and-crackers to omelets. Since crackers are made from a limited number of ingredients, the quality of those ingredients is important. Most of the flavor of crackers comes from the flour used. By making your own crackers, you can control both their flavor and nutritional value.
Sounds crazy, I know. Why would you take the time to make your own crackers? The answer is taste and nutrition. Homemade crackers taste so much better than commercial brands, and with a good choice of flour, they can be very nutritious. Make a big batch and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
4 cups flour (all-purpose, gluten-free, whole wheat, etc.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 1-1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Bench flour as needed
Preheat oven to 500°F. Add ingredients to bowl of food processor equipped with a dough blade. Pulse to mix well; then, with processor running, drizzle in water until dough is formed and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto floured surface; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Divide dough into 6 or 8 pieces; then roll each piece out into flat shapes about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into cracker-sized pieces. Transfer onto cookie sheet; bake until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack; store in an airtight container. A pasta machine is a great way to roll out cracker dough quickly and uniformly. Pricking the crackers with a fork before baking prevents bubbles form forming; if you like bubbles, don’t prick.
Variations: Try reducing flour to three 2/3 cups, then adding 1/3 cup potato starch and 3 tablespoons ground sesame seed. (Pulse them in a spice grinder.) Replace flour with 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat, oat, or barley flour.
Additions: 3 tablespoons wheat germ, sesame, or poppy seeds; 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper.
Double Baking: Increase the storage life of your crackers by double baking them. Bake crackers as usual; then reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Place crackers on a wire rack; bake again for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool; then store in an airtight container.
A great trail food. Try crumbling a cracker into boiling soup or stew as a thickener.
1 cup cracker meal
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
Chopped parsley and parmesan cheese for garnish
Add chicken stock to pot; bring to rolling simmer. Add cracker meal and water to small bowl; then mix. Add eggs; mix again. Put tablespoonfuls of dough into bubbling chicken stock. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowl; then garnish and serve.
Substitutions: 2 quarts water and 1/2 cup chicken stock base for the chicken stock.
Additions: 3/4 cup freeze-dried peas added to chicken stock; 6 to 8 ounces shredded, cooked chicken, turkey, or ham.
1 ½ cups broken crackers
2-3 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
Add crackers and water; then mix. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon fat in skillet; then add crackers. Fry crackers until lightly browned; then add eggs. Fry again until eggs are set. Turn omelet over; continue frying until lightly browned. Serve immediately. Great for breakfast with honey, maple, or pancake syrup.
Additions: Add 1 cup shredded sharp cheese after turning omelet; then cover and melt the cheese.
Pasta With Toasted Crackers
1 cup coarse cracker meal1/2 half stick butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
12 ounces pasta
Cook pasta per package directions; add butter to skillet and heat until butter stops foaming. Drain pasts. Add cracker meal and garlic; then sauté, stirring until mixture is toasted. Add toasted crackers and cheese to pasta; toss well. Serve immediately.
Trail Friendly: Prepare toasted cracker meal at home; add with Parmesan cheese to small ziplock bag.