Is a manufactured dairy product made by evaporating milk to dryness. One purpose of drying milk is to preserve it; milk powder has a far longer shelf life than liquid milk and does not need to be refrigerated, due to its low moisture content. There are 3 different kinds to choose from.
Nonfat Dry Milk
This is pasteurized skim milk reduced to a powdered concentrate. It can be found in two forms, regular and instant. They are both made from milk in a spray-drying process, but the instant variety has been given further processing to make it more easily soluble in water than regular dry milk. Both types have the same nutrient composition. The regular variety is more compact and requires less storage space than the instantized variety, but it is more difficult to reconstitute. The most easily found variety is the instant, available in nearly any grocery store. The regular variety has to be sought out from baking and restaurant suppliers and storage food dealers.
It takes about 3 tablespoons of instant nonfat dry milk added to 8 oz of water to make 1 cup of milk you can drink or cook with just like fresh milk, albeit with a considerable flavor difference. Combine the dry milk with water at least several hours before you plan to use it to give it time to dissolve fully and to develop a fresher flavor. Shaking the fluid milk vigorously will incorporate air and will also help to improve flavor. I don’t care for the stuff to drink, but instead add the powder to baked goods, gravies, smoothies, hot cereals, casseroles and meat loaf as a nutrition booster. It can also be used to make yogurt, cheese and most any cultured dairy product that does not require a high fat content.
Flavored Nonfat Dry Milk
This may be found packaged in a variety of forms from a low calorie diet drink (artificially sweetened) to the other end of the scale, as cocoa mix or malted milk. The key ingredient is the dry milk so buy and store these products accordingly.
Dry Whole Milk
This dry milk has a higher fat content and therefore a shorter shelf life than nonfat. Other than that, it can be used in exactly the same way. Dry whole milk is difficult to find, but can sometimes be found where camping and outback supplies are sold.
Taste & Cooking
- Once reconstituted, powdered milk tastes a lot better than it used to. If you haven’t tried it in the past few years, it’s worth another taste. When mixed correctly and chilled overnight, it has a pleasant, sweet flavor that tastes especially good with homemade cookies. Reconstituted milk doesn’t taste the same as fresh whole milk. If you are already used to skim milk though, you won’t notice much difference in the flavor of reconstituted milk. In cooking, powdered milk performs flawlessly. It can be substituted for fresh milk in almost any recipe with excellent results. Many budget conscious women cook with powdered milk exclusively. This is smart use of resources because the results are so good. Drinking powdered milk is another kettle of fish. Some folks find the flavor objectionable even after chilling it because they are accustomed to fresh whole milk.
- You cannot fool anyone into thinking that reconstituted dry milk is the same as fresh milk when used as a beverage. There are things you can do to make powdered milk taste better. Mixing it with fresh whole milk for body and flavor is a good alternative.
- To get good tasting powdered milk make sure you start with fresh dry milk. If your box of dry milk is a year old, then buy a new one and use the old one for cooking exclusively.
- Use cool water when possible. The powder tends to dissolve more readily in cool water.
- Stir the milk a lot, to dissolve the milk powder. Then let the milk sit for a little while and stir again. The protein in the milk powder blends most easily if it gets a chance to stand after mixing.
- Powdered milk may be used immediately after mixing if desired. For the best flavor chill the milk for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Store the milk in a refrigerator if you have one. If you don’t, then wrap the milk in a wet towel. As the water evaporates, the milk will cool. If you have a root cellar or basement, you may want to keep the milk there, or even outside in the fall and winter.
- If you store the milk outside be sure that it is protected from critters who may be thirsty. A box with a large rock on top is sufficient to keep out most animals.
If you do not have refrigeration, then only prepare enough milk to last the day. I prepare it the night before, so it has a chance to blend and chill overnight. About 2 quarts will be enough to last a family of 4 for most of the day. If you continually find you have some left over, then prepare less the next day. If you find yourself running out, then prepare more.
- Some people add a drop or two of vanilla to their milk to improve the flavor.
- Other people add a spoonful or two of sugar for the same purpose. I don’t use either of these ideas, because we are accustomed to reconstituted milk, and prefer it plain.
- Pitchers and wide-mouthed jars are the easiest to use for mixing and storing reconstituted milk.
Sweet Vanilla Milk: Run a little hot water into a 2-quart pitcher. Add 1/4-cup each powdered coffee creamer and sugar. Stir well to dissolve. Add 1/2-teaspoon vanilla. Fill the pitcher half full with cold tap water. Add 2-2/3 cups of instant nonfat dry milk powder. Stir well. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way full. Stir again. Chill and serve. This milk is more palatable to some folks than straight reconstituted milk. The powdered coffee creamer gives the milk a rich fullness, while the sugar and vanilla make it taste sweet and almost dessert-like. If you must switch to powdered milk, and are having trouble with the flavor, this recipe can make the transition easier. For a gallon of milk use: 1/2-cup each powdered coffee cream & sugar and 1-teaspoon of vanilla flavoring. Add a dash of salt too if desired. Be sure to dissolve the creamer and sugar in hot tap water first. They do not dissolve readily in cold water.
A Very Rich Gallon of Milk: Measure 3-1/2 quarts (14 cups) of water into a gallon size pitcher. Add 5-cups of dry milk powder and a 12-ounce can of undiluted evaporated whole milk. Mix all together. Chill and serve. This makes about a gallon. It is richer than plain reconstituted milk. If you must use powdered milk, but prefer a richer product, this is the recipe for you. Children will sometimes tolerate it better than straight reconstituted milk, especially if they are already used to fresh 1% or 2%.
To Mix with Whole Milk: Powdered milk is easily mixed half-and-half with whole milk. When combined and well chilled, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between fresh milk and mixed milk. To do this, use an extra, clean milk jug and two 2-quart sized pitchers. First reconstitute 2 quarts of milk in each of the pitchers, using the chart above. Then, using a funnel, pour half of the whole milk into the clean empty milk jug. Using the same funnel, pour the reconstituted milk from one pitcher into each jug, making a gallon of mixed milk in each jug. Both empty pitchers then have to be washed, but they are pretty easy to keep clean. I used to try to reconstitute the powdered milk in the milk jug, with the whole milk, but it never worked as well as I’d hoped. Now I find it much easier to reconstitute the powdered milk in the pitcher first, and then pour the liquid milk into the jug with the whole milk. Like regular powdered milk, mixed milk tastes best if well chilled.
Sour Milk: To sour reconstituted milk, just add a little vinegar to it and stir it up. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1-cup of sour milk or buttermilk, then measure a tablespoon of vinegar into a measuring cup. Add reconstituted milk to reach the 1-cup mark. Stir the milk gently. In a moment or two, it will sour. This can replace soured milk or buttermilk in baking recipes.
Overnight Buttermilk: To make your own buttermilk, you have to start off with 1/2-cup of fresh, store-bought buttermilk and a quart (4-cups) of reconstituted milk. Combine the fresh buttermilk and reconstituted milk in a pitcher or jar. Mix it really well. Allow it to stand at room temperature overnight, or for about 8 hours. The milk will have thickened up and cultured into regular buttermilk. Refrigerate or chill and use anywhere fresh buttermilk is called for.
Easy Evaporated Milk: To make this you only need dry milk powder and water. Measure 1-1/3 cups water into a jar or bowl. Add 1 cup of instant dry milk powder. Stir or shake to combine. This is the equivalent of a 12-ounce can of evaporated skim milk. To make evaporated whole milk, you will need to add some fat to replace the milk fat in whole milk. Do this by preparing evaporated skim milk and then adding 2-tablespoons of vegetable oil to the milk. Stir it up vigorously to emulsify the fat with the milk. It will separate on standing, so mix it really well right before using it. This is best used in cooking and baking. A spritz of nonstick spray will help the emulsification process.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: On the stove, bring to a boil 1/2-cup of water, 1-cup of sugar and 3-tablespoons of margarine or shortening. Add a dash of salt. Stir the mixture every now and then. When it comes to a full rolling boil, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool slightly. Add a cup of instant dry milk powder. Use a whisk to stir it smooth. A fork or a spoon will not work out all the lumps. You really need a whisk, or egg beaters. There, you are done. This is the equivalent of a can of sweetened condensed milk. This will keep unrefrigerated for a day or two because of the sugar. I have never kept it longer than that without refrigeration. In the fridge it will keep for 2 weeks. For longer storage than that, I freeze it.
Quick Whipped Topping: This recipe is best made if you have electricity. Put 1/2-cup of water into a large bowl and place it in your freezer. Whenice crystals form around the edges remove it from the freezer. Add 1/2-cup instant dry milk powder. Whip the mixture with electric beaters until it is light and fluffy. This will take a couple of minutes. Add 2-tablespoons sugar, 1-teaspoon of lemon juice, and 1/2-teaspoon of vanilla. Beat until thick enough to spoon like whipped topping. Use immediately.
Molasses Milk: High in iron, with a caramel-toffee flavor this hot beverage is quite delicious. Heat 3/4-cup of reconstituted milk in a cup in the microwave. Stir in a spoonful of molasses. Serve hot. My kids love this stuff.
Chocolate Milk: Fill a cup with reconstituted milk. Squeeze in a couple spoonfuls of homemade Chocolate Syrup. Stir to combine. Serve to thirsty children who object to plain reconstituted powdered milk. Cold chocolate milk can be heated in the microwave for hot chocolate. This is also great in lunch boxes. If you want to be really nice to the kids then make up a whole gallon of reconstituted chocolate milk at a time. They will brag to their friends and your reputation will become legendary.
Homemade Yogurt: Reconstitute a quart of milk in a very clean container like a wide mouthed canning jar. Add another 1/2-cup of milk powder for body. Whisk in 1/4-cup of commercial yogurt with active cultures. Read the label to be sure the yogurt has active cultures. Stash the milk in a warm spot, between 80° and 110°. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours. It should be thick and creamy, like commercially available yogurt. Chill your yogurt and use anywhere you would regular yogurt. It makes a great substitute for sour cream. Or mix it half and half with prepared mayonnaise for your own homemade low-fat mayo.
Yogurt Cheese: Line a colander with a clean, damp piece of cloth. Pour prepared yogurt into the cloth. Allow the yogurt to drain overnight. In the morning the remaining solids will be yogurt cheese. They can be used anywhere you would use cream cheese or thick sour cream.
- Be sure the dry milk you are buying has been fortified with vitamins A and D. All of the nonfat dry milks I’ve seen come fortified with these two vitamins. The dry buttermilk does not come this way, at least the SACO brand does not. I don’t know if the flavored mixes and the dry whole milk do or not.
- There should be no artificial colors or flavors. I believe it is illegal to add preservatives to any dry milk sold in the U.S. so a claim of “no preservatives” on the label is of no consequence. Other nations may be different, however.
- “Extra Grade” on the label indicates the manufacturer has held to higher processing and quality standards and the milk is somewhat lower in fat, moisture and bacterial content, is more soluble, and has fewer scorched particles.
- There are still some manufacturers of dry milk that sell ordinary Grade A product, but they are becoming fewer. Every brand of instant powdered milk in my local grocery store is the “Extra Grade”, even the generic store brand. This, too, may vary outside of the States.
- Try to buy your dried milk in containers of a size that makes sense for the level of consumption in the household. Once it is opened, powdered milk has a short shelf life before undesirable changes in flavor and nutrient content occurs. If you buy large packages and do not use much at one time, consider breaking it down and repackaging into smaller containers at the time of purchase.
Dry milk products are especially sensitive to storage conditions, particularly temperature and light. Vitamins A and D are photo sensitive and will break down rapidly if exposed to light.
The area where your dry milk is stored should be kept as cool as possible. If it is possible to do so, air-conditioning or even refrigeration can greatly extend the nutrient shelf life.
If the storage container is transparent or translucent then it should be put into a second container opaque to light or stored in a dark room.
Dry milk will absorb moisture and odors from the air so storage containers should be impervious to both air and moisture. The dryer it can be kept, the better it will keep. Oxygen also speeds decomposition. Powdered milk canned with nitrogen or carbon dioxide to replace air (which contains oxygen) will keep longer than powdered milk exposed to air. Vacuum canning also decreases the available oxygen.
If the dry milk purchased was not packaged for long term storage then it should be repackaged right away.
A method which you can use is to pour the powder into clean, dry half-gallon canning jars. Once the jars are filled add a small desiccant pack and seal. They are dated and stored in the ubiquitous cool, dark place. They must be guarded against breakage, but they offer the advantage of not holding odors, thus allowing for reuse after suitable cleaning. Since they are as transparent the contents must be protected against light. Vacuum sealing and then storing in a dark place may be the best method. Larger jars of 1 gallon size could be used and then re-vacuum sealed after each use. An O2 absorber would take care of any remaining oxygen and would, itself, last longer when used in conjunction with the vacuum sealer. Being glass, the jar can be reused as well as the lid and ring if they’re properly cleaned.
Clean, sound plastic one and two liter soda bottles can also be used, but probably should be used just once since the plastic is somewhat permeable and will hold odors.
If you have access to a can sealer, #10 cans make wonderful storage containers for dry milk, particularly if used in conjunction with O2 absorbers.
Another method used is to remove the paper envelopes of milk powder from the cardboard box they come from the grocery store in and to put them in dated plastic bags. These bags are not sealed. The unsealed bags are then placed in a larger, air tight, opaque container. I’ve heard of plastic buckets, fifty cal and 20 mm ammo cans being used for this purpose. A healthy quantity of desiccant was also placed in the container. This would be another area where O2 absorption packets should serve well. It’s important to remember the containers should be clean and odor-free.