Crackers are flat and dry baked products with a cereal base (e.g. wheat, oat, barley), have low sugar and fat content, and with a long shelf life. Crackers have always been a part of our lives – as the snacks we bring to school or those convenient little food packs in our bags that save the day or even as a great companion to soup during meals!
- The term “crackers” was coined due to an unexpected situation in 1801 by a Josiah Bent from Massachusetts. As he accidentally burned the batch of what we call now as crackers, these made a crackling noise, hence, inspiring the name.
- There is actually a name for the holes in the crackers. They are called “docking holes” and they are actually not for decorative purposes. These holes are strategically placed to stop large air pockets from forming in the crackers while baking.
- Some of the earliest crackers in history dates back to the Jews escaping from Egyptian slavery. They did not have the time to let their dough rise, so they baked matzoh instead, which is an unleavened flatbread.
Cracker Buying Guide
Crackers can be categorized into two main types: the fermented and the chemically leavened.
Soda crackers, saltines, and cream crackers are some examples of fermented crackers, where a sponge starter is used in a long fermentation process. These crackers are usually dry and bland so they are usually eaten with soup or with savory toppings.
Chemically leavened crackers are usually sprayed with hot oil upon leaving the oven and toppings are added to the crackers. They do not go through a long fermentation process so some enzymes are used to relax the dough. An example of this is the snack crackers, especially the flavored ones.
Cracker Production & Farming in Texas
With bakeries and cottage bakers abound, there are a lot of producers of crackers in Texas. Handmade and home-baked crackers, creatively made and combined with amazing flavors for a unique snacking experience! Aside from the brands in the groceries and supermarkets, you can easily find these in local food shops, retail stores, and farmers markets.
Preservatives, Additives and Chemicals
While crackers may seem to be simple and plain in composition, there are still some brands or cracker variations that have some not-so wholesome ingredients on their list. It is always best to check what your crackers are made of and that what they list down is all-natural! Here are some ingredients to watch out for:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – The HFCS is an artificial sugar that is made from corn syrup. Commercial producers of products usually use this, as the HFCS is a cheaper substitute to natural sweeteners. But overconsumption of items with this ingredient can be linked to several serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver and heart disease.
- Soy lecithin – Lecithin is derived from many sources such as egg yolks, liver, peanuts, and most commonly in soy. It is usually used as an emulsifier, allowing oil and water to be mixed. It also helps extend shelf life and reduce the stickiness of the food. But while it may seem harmless, the controversy comes to how the lecithin is produced. Others still consider it as artificial since it is extracted using harsh chemicals, or is derived from genetically modified soybean plants.
Commercially made crackers are usually packed and stored in waxed wrappers or foil/plastic packs to keep the freshness and the crispiness of the crackers. In bundling crackers for bigger packs, they are enclosed in wax wrappers before putting them inside carton boxes.
Crackers can be eaten as a snack with your favorite cup of coffee or tea. Snack crackers, which already contain flavorings like herb, cheese, chicken or even seeds, can stand as a treat on its own. But the dry variations such as soda crackers, saltines or cream crackers are best eaten with soup or with savory toppings. Others also add it to their charcuterie platters to balance the flavors of meats, cheeses, fruits and nuts.
After opening the package, crackers should be stored in an airtight container to preserve their crunch. They retain their maximum freshness for about a month after opening the package but they can be stored for about eight months in a dry, cool pantry. Meanwhile an unopened package of crackers may retain its best quality for about six to nine months.
Known food blogger and cookbook author Ree Drummond shares her take on this recipe! And what makes this exciting, you can customize it based on your preference, by using different flavors or sprinkles in your crackers.
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Fat (Olive Oil, Melted Butter, Bacon Drippings, Melted Coconut Oil, Or Melted Ghee)
- 1 cup Water
- Pre-heat oven to 450ºF.
- Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Sift flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add fat and water to flour mixture.
- Put some flour on a cool surface. Divide the dough into two. Roll each half to rectangles 1/8-inch-thick.
- Brush dough lightly with olive oil. Cut dough into desired cracker shapes. Don’t forget to add the holes in the crackers using a fork.
- Transfer the crackers to the prepared sheet pans. Be careful not to crowd the crackers.
- Bake in the oven 12–15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer crackers to the cooling rack. Crackers will crisp as they cool. Serve crackers immediately or store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.