A Pirate Recipe for Success


No one likes a growling stomach. I turn into a fanged, black hole ready to destroy everything in my path when I haven’t been fed. Like Jekyll and Hyde, I don’t even recognize myself as the law abiding citizen I normally am as this creature of pure hostility takes over me. And it can only be stopped by food. If I’m this bad, I can’t imagine what a crusty, sour-souled, filthy pirate is like when food rations run low.

The first few weeks at sea the galley was loaded with meat, cheese, veggies, eggs, and barrels of rum. Spoilage soon set it. Weevils made their homes in the bread, mold covered the fruit, and beef turned the most lovely shades of rancid green. Eventually, even the pickled eggs and salted meat ran out.

That’s when they got creative. If lucky, they could catch a turtle for a fine meal, or if desperate a bone soup. Mmmm! Cooks tossed in a lot herbs and spices to cover up the spoiled ingredients, but without proper food many a seaman got sick and died of scurvy.

On the sea, only the strong (of stomach) survive. Soo, for your cooking pleasure:


Bumboo– a mixture of rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg

Salted Meat– a diet staple. It was stored in barrels, and had to last for months

Bone Soup– a soup made from animal bones and fish bones that were simmered in broth

Hard Tack– also known as sea biscuits. Eaten with soups, or dunked in water, brine, broth, or anything handy to soften those babies up


Mix one tsp of salt with one lb of flour.

Add enough water to make stiff dough.

Flatten dough to ½ inch and cut into 4 in circles.

Punch holes in each circle with fork.

Bake in a flat pan for 2-3 hours.

Try not to break your teeth off!


Fun Fact:

In 1670, Sir Henry Morgan’s crew at their leather satchels. Cut into strips and soaked, they tenderized them by beating and rubbing the leather with stones. They scraped off the hair, then roasted the strips before cutting them into bite-sized pieces. The recipe suggests serving them with lots of water.


  1. Tom Threadgill

    Hi J’nell! Did you try making the hard tack? Sounds horrible, but I suppose if I was hungry enough I’d be happy to have it!

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      No, I haven’t tried the hard tack simply because I’d like to keep my teeth. But you’re right, if I’m hungry enough I’d give anything a go. Even a chipped tooth!

  2. Linda Glaz

    Have made mountains of hard tack. Did CW reenacting for years and used to have the classes over from the elem school a block away. They’d come for hard tack and lemonade and a demo of life around the soldier’s camp. Lots of fun.

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      That sounds awesome!I assume everyone still has their teeth? The closest thing I’ve come to making hard tack was a Jiffy biscuit mix gone wrong.

  3. Kate Breslin

    Ahow, matey! Great article J’nell! No wonder I’ve never seen a fat pirate! 🙂


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