When I moved away from San Francisco in 2009, I was sure to take with me a small binder of recipes my nutritionist friend had given me. She was the one that had exposed me to whole foods, traditional food ways, and the Weston A Price Foundation (which focuses on food, farming, and the healing arts).
Over the years, I have tried out the recipes and tweaked them to suit my kitchen antics and particular palette. One of those recipes is the one I’m about to share with you now, how to make hearty homemade crackers.
I started making these the year I worked at a silent, contemplative retreat center in the mountains of western North Carolina, Southern Dharma Retreat Center. A little over a mile down a one-land, winding, gravel road…this retreat center has been nestled back in that holler for over 30 years and it is such a special place to me now.
At the end of almost every silent retreat, I would get horizontal and rest… But, eventually I would start craving these thick, rich crackers. I used pemmican (mostly grass-fed cow tallow) that I bought from US Wellness Meats for my fat (but I’ll suggest other options below) and various flours like buckwheat, einkorn, and rye.
And yes, the kitchen at the retreat center was a vegetarian kitchen. But, I have always been an omnivore and always will be. Although, I didn’t cook meat in that kitchen, I ordered canned wild sockeye salmon from US Wellness Meats during my time at the center and ate that every now and then.
You could also use yellow dock seeds that have browned on the plant as a wild foraged addition to another flour (you can grind them in a coffee or spice grinder). Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is actually a member of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) and a persistent weed in most habitats. It’s not hard to come by. In most of my gardens I let a patch do what it wants and harvest the seeds for fodder and roots for medicine (and sometimes the young leaves to mix in with salad greens).
This is a great recipe because the grains are cured or ‘soaked’ in apple cider vinegar and water to neutralize the enzyme inhibitor found in grains (and seeds, nuts, beans). You could also soak the grains in the same amount of water (as noted below in the recipe), but with yogurt or kefir as the soaking agent.
I suggest trying different flours and fats until you find the right mix of ingredients. I really like using an animal fat for my crackers (the ones shown below have rendered deer tallow in them) as they make the crackers almost meaty. However, you might want something lighter, like coconut oil and einkorn flour.
After having these crackers, it’s been really hard to appreciate anything that comes from the store. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is by slathering ghee (cultured butter) on top. But, do you what you want…top with a nut butter, dip in humus, or top with your favorite cheese or goat cheese. Enjoy!
Hearty Homemade Crackers
3 1/2 cups of whole grain flour
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil (or lard/tallow, or 2 packages of pemmican)
1 cup of water with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Gently mix together the above ingredients until combined. Can use fork at first, and then knead dough gently in bowl until is just comes together into a ball. Cover and leave out overnight on counter (or, begin in morning, let sit 12 hours, and finish at night).
The next morning, flatten ball out on counter, using a little flour, if needed, to prevent sticking. Personal note: this stuff can be tough to knead!
Sprinkle over top:
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Fold in half and knead gently until salt and baking powder are evenly mixed in. Salt will inhibit some of the soaking process (of the grains), so that’s why it is added after the grains have soaked well.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time, for more control. Roll out about 1/4″ for a firmer, flatbread-like cracker and a 1/8″ for a lighter, crispier cracker. Cut into desired size with a sharp knife and gently lay out on a greased baking sheet and prick with fork (see pics).
Bake for about 10 minutes and check. They will be done when they are browning slightly around the edges. Cool on cooling rack (or use the tray if bottoms are not too brown). Can store in glass jar on shelf.