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Bread has been a classic sustenance for survival in many cultures since ancient times. The Bible has many references to the bread – which according to the Book of Ezekiel was made in those times from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and fitches. This classic and common food is often overlooked by preppers and off-grid enthusiasts due to its short shelf life. However, there are bread recipes that will make survival more bearable. Before we discuss them, let’s take a look at the factors that influence the shelf life of bread as well as ways for extending the shelf life of the baked item without the use of preservatives.
The #1 factor that makes bread go bad is mold. Organic bread is more prone to spoilage due to lack of preservatives. Here are the factors that expose your bread to the development of certain fungi or molds which can be dangerous to eat.
Most molds grow faster at warmer temperatures, so bread will only last a few days unless frozen.
• Exposure To Mold
Mold spores in the air or on people’s hands could cause the development of mold. To delay mold growth, keep the bread in an airtight container and wash hands before handling.
Mold thrives in a moist environment, so bread could grow mold sooner if it is exposed to high moisture content. To deal with moisture, bread should be cooled and dried out at room temperature before being placed in a container.
The growth of mold is supported by ingredients such as eggs, milk and sugar, which create a welcoming environment for fungus. And bread that was made using these ingredients is not a long-term storage item. It should be eaten within a few days or frozen until needed (even so, bread has only up to around 3 months shelf life in the freezer, depending on the type of bread).
• Preparation Style
Over-mixing or kneading exposes the bread to more oxygen, and plentiful oxygen encourages mold growth. For survival breads, mixing and kneading should only be done as far as necessary. If you want bread recipes that last up to 2.5 years and beyond, matzo bread and hardtack are the clear winners. These types of bread can fulfill bread’s basic function as a survival food. Here’s how they are made:
Basic Hardtack Bread
• 5 cups of flour
• 2 cups of water
• 3 teaspoons of salt
First mix flour and salt in a bowl. Then add water gradually, just enough that the mixture will bind together. Mix by hand. The dough should be sufficiently dry that it does not stick to hands, rolling pin or pan. Then, roll the dough to about half-inch thickness and cut the dough into 3-by-3 inch squares.
Create a pattern of four rows of four holes into the squares with a sharp object. These should just be indentations – don’t punch right through to the other side. Turn the dough over and repeat this, making indentations in the other side.
Bake the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet or baking sheet for thirty minutes for the one side. Turn the dough pieces and bake for another 30 minutes. Wait until the sides are slightly brown.
When done, let the hardtack dry for a few days in a warm, dry open space. An airing cupboard might be ideal. The bread will harden considerably as it dries, reaching consistency that seems more like brick than a bread or biscuit. 🙂 Store the fully-dried hardtack in an airtight container.
Damp is the enemy of long term storage of hard tack. The more dry the hard tack, the longer its shelf life. In the old days it was kiln dried for hours and was even known to last up to 50 years!
You can fry the bread in a buttered skillet after soaking it in milk or water. This bread, used as a staple in ancient times on long sea voyages, is perfect when eaten with cheese, soup, or even just plain salt.
Basic Matzo Bread Recipe
This unleavened bread is a kosher food for Passover. You can enjoy this crisp, flatbread in just under thirty minutes. This savory snack sustained the Israelites across their travels and wanderings during Biblical times. It has a shelf life of 2.5 years when stored in a dry place.
• 1 cup flour
• 3 cups of water
• ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Mix all ingredients and knead the mixture until firm dough forms. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Then, roll each ball into a thick disk. Pierce each disk with a fork on each side to prevent the dough from rising. Repeat the previous procedures with the rest of the dough. Place the pieces of bread onto the baking sheet. It’s okay if the bread overlaps on the pan. Bake for two minutes and carefully flip over the bread, and bake for an additional 2 minutes until the matzos are lightly browned and crisp.
For kosher matzos, wafers should be finished within 18 minutes of adding water to the flour.
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