Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Eat Healthy. Save Money. {Homemade Crackers}

Homemade crackers on a plate

One of the major reasons why we started Arcadia Farms was to learn to eat healthy, live sustainably and to be producers instead of consumers only. In October I announced that I would start focusing part of my attention on “homesteading” topics, including how to create your own {fill in the blank here}, save money, save energy and generally provide for yourself. I’m no expert – but I’m willing to do some experimenting so that you can benefit from what I learn without having to make the same mistakes. (And in an effort to avoid recreating the wheel, I’ll be inquiring of ‘the experts’ as we go along!)

In that original post (click here to read about how I make my own bread and broth) I listed several things that our family consumes frequently and that I’d like to learn to make/produce at home. You can find the list below. Items that are hotlinks (clickable) are those that I’ve already addressed:

  • Eggs
  • Granola
  • Crackers
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Veggies (of course!)
  • Cooking oil
  • Bread
  • Chicken Broth

Today I want to talk about (insert drum roll here) crackers!

Making Homemade Crackers

Just like bread, I don’t eat a whole lot of crackers. Ryan used to enjoy them but now is starting to make a serious foray into gluten-free eating, so crackers have become a no-no. But Owen – he eats plenty of crackers! Lots of them, especially in homemade ‘Lunchables’ which he takes to school. As with everything we eat, I would much prefer to buy organic. While a couple of boxes of organic crackers don’t break the bank on their own, paying nearly $5 per box in some cases adds up quickly when I’m on a tight budget. So, to get healthy crackers (natural/organic ingredients, no preservatives) and save money at the same time, I plan to make my own.

The prices below are based on ingredients I had on hand (some of which are not natural/organic). For example, maple syrup is free for me because my father-in-law has an entire cupboard full of homemade syrup. Also, organic ingredients will cost more than the non-organic ingredients listed (unless you produce them yourself!). Future crackers made in our home will be made from all organic/natural products. I’ve listed each ingredient’s price per unit used in the recipe. Based on these prices, I estimate that it will cost about $1.32 to make 100 crackers.

  • Meijer All Purpose Flour (Meijer, $1.96 for 10 cups)
  • King Arthur All-Natural Traditional Whole Wheat Flour (Meijer, $3.99 for 10 cups)
  • Hain Pure Foods Iodized Sea Salt (Meijer, $1.99 for 156 teaspoons)
  • Meijer Pure Baking Soda (Meijer, $0.64 for 96 teaspoons)
  • Great Value Paprika (Wal-Mart, est. $1.50 for ~13 teaspoons)
  • Meijer Organic Unsalted Butter (Meijer, est. $4.95 for 32 tablespoons)
  • Meijer Pure Clover Honey (Country Life Natural Foods, $34.00 256 tablespoons)
  • Papa’s Maple Syrup (Papa, $Free J)

Experimenting with Recipes

Learning how to make bread and broth was quite easy. Sadly my venture into making homemade crackers took a little more work.

First, I scoured the internet looking for recipes. There are many, and I saved several to our Recipe Box board on Pinterest. Of the recipes I found, I decided to try three. The first recipe was very basic, with the only ingredients being flour (I used whole wheat), salt, water and oil. With an eye toward sustainability, a recipe with very few ingredients seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, I did not care for the taste. And I learned a value lesson about cracker-making: Get those puppies as thin as you possibly can! My first not-thin-enough batch is currently the stock in my ‘dog treats’ jar…

So the next recipe I tried was slightly different. It replaced the oil with butter and involved also adding sugar or honey, paprika and vanilla. These crackers turned out much better than the first, both taste wise and texture wise (I made them as thin as I possibly could without tearing the dough.) I opted to use sugar instead of honey and I skipped the vanilla because I didn’t have any at the time. The dough was a very pasty consistency, almost crumbly. I was able to roll it out with any extra flour on my rolling pin.

But something was still not quite right… so I tried a third time.

I remembered that the third recipe I wanted to try called for baking soda, which I thought strange since baking soda helps things rise and I wanted flat, crispy crackers. Nonetheless, I added some baking soda to my third batch of crackers. I also opted for honey instead of sugar and added a touch of natural maple syrup (made by my father-in-law) instead of vanilla. I noticed that the dough came out a bit gooey-er than the first batch, almost the consistency of cookie dough.

Crumbly dough consistency

Cracker dough, second attempt.

Cracker dough in bowl

Cracker dough, third attempt.

The end result was crispy and delicious. Yay – crackers!!

A cracker in hand

My final recipe is mostly based on this one with some slight variations. In the future I plan to experiment with adding a tablespoon or two of flax or other seeds. I’m also going to experiment with freezing dough for future use.  I’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile, here’s the recipe.

Arcadia Wheat Crackers Recipe

½ cup all-purpose white flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or pure maple syrup
Salt for topping

1) Pre-heat the oven to 400*

2) Whisk together white flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and paprika. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until evenly distributed.

3) In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix together ¼ cup water, honey and vanilla/maple syrup. For slightly less sweet crackers, cut the honey back to 1 or 1½ tablespoons.

4) Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until evenly distributed; it will look much like cookie dough

5) Use a rolling pin (and a few tablespoons of flour to keep the dough from sticking) to roll out half of the dough on a cookie sheet as thin as you can humanly make it. I found that an ‘air bake’ cookie sheet works better than a traditional cookie sheet. A pizza stone would probably also work well.

6) Sprinkle the crackers with salt to taste.

7) Use a butter knife to cut one-inch squares from the dough; you could also use a cookie cutter for specific shapes

8) Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Crackers on the edges may burn slightly. In my oven, 13 minutes was the right amount of time. Crackers will harden as they cool.

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