Making the Best of Powdered Milk, Part 1, by J.R.

Editor’s Introductory Note: This article is a compilation from several articles in J.R.’s Prep School Daily blog. Because of its length, it will be posted in three parts.  It is re-posted with permission. – JWR

Introduction

I love including powdered milk in my food storage plan for my family.  I love it because nobody else does.  Nobody wants it, now or ever.  People who have had it never want it again, and people who have not had it are not that into eating healthy or storing food anyway, so there are no worries from them either.

But still, powdered milk is like the ugly stepchild of food storage.  Nobody wants it.  Just thinking about it is probably giving you the willies.

Well, let’s change that!  First off, let’s discuss nutritional needs.  Teens and adults are recommended to store 20 pounds of dry milk per year.  This is only used in baking and cooking.  There is absolutely none for pouring on cereal or drinking.  None for making yogurt or banana cream pie.

In contrast, pregnant and nursing women and children up to the ages of 12 years need 75 pounds of powdered milk each year to meet the nutritional requirements of their growing bodies. Yes, there is probably some drinking involved here.

The following table shows a comparison of the nutrients and costs for some of the major dry milk companies.  As you can see, there is a wide range of nutrients and costs per serving.  Please note that the Augason Farms Morning Moo is not milk—it is a milk drink.

 

Manufacturer Vit. A Vit. C Vit. D Calcium Cost Servings Cost/Serving
Provident Pantry 0 2 0 25 Purchased in 2008—no records of what I paid
Country Cream 0 0 10 30 Purchased in 2009—no records of what I paid
HSC no sugar or vanilla added) 10 4 25 35 Purchased in 2001, no records of what I paid
HSC (sugar and vanilla added) 15 4 40 35 Purchased in 2010, no records of what I paid
HSC 10 4 25 35 $ 4.00 29 $0.14
Country Cream 2 2 10 30 18.99 64 0.30
Augason Farms 15 2 10 20 22.99 39 0.59
Thrive 0 0 10 20 10.49 15 0.70
Emergency Essentials 10 4 25 30 18.95 45 0.42
Augason Farms Morning Moo 10 0 15 10 23.99 93 0.26
Carnation 10 2 25 30 0.99 4 0.25
Kroger 15 15 20 2.31 12 0.19

I’ve had a few opportunities to teach classes on using powdered milk, and one of the things I do every time is a taste test.  Most of the major long-term food storage companies offer their own dry milk lines for sale.  In my tastes tests, there has been no consensus for first place.  Some favor Country Cream or Emergency Essentials or Thrive.  But twice now I’ve had groups give two thumbs up to the milk from the Home Storage Center (HSC).

(In my most recent taste test, in February of this year, my cans of Provident Pantry and Country Cream were ten years old.  The cans from the HSC were from 2001 and 2010.  Carnation, Kroger, and WinCo bulk were all fresh purchases.)

The taste testers rated the milk samples on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and 1 being they’d rather die than drink it again.  Coming in at a solid last place was Carnation, with an average of 2.1.  (I’d have thought they would have figured out the milk business by now.)  Kroger scored 2.9.  Provident Pantry, 3.3.  WinCo bulk bin, 3.4.  Country Cream, 3.9.  HSC without any additives, 3.6.  HSC with ½ teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of vanilla (or almond) extract, 4.1.  Yes, adding that little bit of sugar and vanilla extract or almond extract, and chilling well, makes a huge difference.  Please give this a try and show yourself and your family that this really does work.  It will give you the confidence to stock up. Life is good again.

How to Story Dry Milk

Dry milk must be stored as cool as possible at all times.  It is definitely the most sensitive of all long term food storage items.  Being subjected to elevated temperatures for even a short period will render it unpalatable.  Furthermore, it must be stored in a completely dark area.  Light also causes deterioration in nutritional value and taste pretty quickly.  In other words, do not store milk in plastic buckets as I did in the beginning.

Now that we’ve covered the nutritional analysis of the various brands of milk and the taste test, let’s look at the different kinds of dry milk.

Non-instant nonfat milk is sold by very few companies.  I found one seller on Amazon and non-instant nonfat is also what is sold by the Home Storage Center (HSC). It is processed by drum drying, where the milk is sprayed on a heated drum and then scraped off.  The drum is heated and the resultant dry milk has a cooked flavor to it.  It is generally much less expensive than instant nonfat.  As the name suggests, it does not mix instantly, but takes a bit more stirring.  It has a reputation of being less palatable than instant.

Instant nonfat milk is far more popular, easy to find through all preparedness vendors and at grocery stores.  It is processed by evaporation and spraying into a heated chamber where the milk dries almost immediately.  It is a more expensive process.  There is a wide range in price and palatability.

Instant milk drink is promoted as being the best-tasting.  And it is!  BUT IT’S NOT REAL MILK!  In fact, if you take a look at the list of ingredients, milk is number 3 on that list (at least, for Morning Moo).  It can’t possibly be more than 33% milk.  Kinda disturbing.

There are also instant lowfat and whole milk options.  These are not packaged for long term storage, and even if they were, they don’t have the shelf-life of long-term storage.

As you can see in the table above, the various milk products different dramatically in nutrition and cost per serving.  All servings are eight ounces each.

Lowest Cost Option

The clear winner for cost per serving is the HSC milk at 14 cents per serving.  Even factoring in the cost of sugar and vanilla (or almond) extract (at $4.00 per ounce currently), it’s 22 cents per serving to make a milk that tastes as good as the more expensive brands.  If you look at the nutritional content, the HSC is the winner again, just barely surpassing the Emergency Essentials brand.  The others just don’t even hold a candle, especially when you factor in how important vitamin D is in the diet, and even more so for children.  In case you don’t remember, where else can you get vitamin D in your diet?  Fish, beef liver, eggs, and cod liver oil.  Or supplements.  Keep in mind that 42% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.  And in the early 1900s, before milk was fortified, 90% of children in Boston and New York had rickets.  Make sure you plan well for the children in your life.

For my classes, we didn’t just taste test milk, though that was a really important part of the class.  I also showed participants how to use dry milk in their everyday cooking.  We taste-tested instant oatmeal, cream of tomato soup, survival bars, and chocolate pudding.  Even if people prefer the more expensive milks for drinking, it’s important to see that less expensive milk can successfully be used for cooking and baking.  However, it is very important to note that the measurements of dry milk for baking are not necessarily interchangeable.  It takes anywhere from 2/3 cup to 1 1/3 cups of powdered milk to make a quart of liquid milk.  All recipes included here, unless otherwise noted, are made with HSC milk, which uses of a ratio of 3/4 cup dry milk to 3 3/4 cups water.

 

Recipes That Include Powdered Milk

The following are some recipes that incorporate dry milk:

DIY Instant Oatmeal

Throwing together a batch of instant oatmeal mix doesn’t take much time at all.  It’s healthier than the store bought stuff (what exactly is in those artificially flavored strawberry bits?), it’s way less expensive, and it helps you rotate your basic food storage items.

The basic recipe is as follows:

8 cups quick oats
1 cup dry milk
1 cup granulated sugar

Whirl 6 of the 8 cups of oats in a blender to make them a little finer.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, dry milk, and sugar.

For flavored options, choose one of the following:

Blueberry
Stir in 2 1/2 cups of freeze-dried blueberries

Strawberry, Banana, or Peach
Whirl 2 1/2 cups of your choice of fruit in the blender a little bit to get smaller pieces, then stir into the oatmeal mix.

Apples and Cinnamon
Whirl 2 1/2 cups of dehydrated or freeze-dried apples in a blender to chop them up a bit.  Substitute brown sugar for the granulated sugar.  Stir in 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.

Store in an airtight container.  Or package into snack size baggies if your children have difficulty with portion control.

 

Pantry Staple Substitutes Using Dry Milk

Evaporated Milk
Yields 12 oz

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon dry milk

Blend very well in blender.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup dry milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/8-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour boiling water into blender.  Add in milk powder, sugar, and butter.  Blend on high for one minute.  Add in vanilla and blend a few more seconds.

Whipped Topping

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
2/3 cup water
1 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle  gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water and let stand 3 minutes.  Add boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.  Cool to room temperature.

Place water and dry milk in a large mixer bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  It will take about 5 minutes.  Then add lemon juice and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.  Add sugar, oil, flavoring, and gelatin mixture gradually, scraping sides of bowl until well mixed.  Chill and it is ready to use.

Buttermilk
Yields 8 oz

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar

Mix and let stand 5-10 minutes before using.

(To be continued in Part 2.)

 




24 Comments

  1. Although this is not powdered milk my wife froze a half gallon of regular milk back in December of 2018 and got it out last week and let it thaw. I tasted it and then proceeded to use it until it was gone. I am pretty picky about my milk and this experiment satisfied me. The one thing I noticed was it started going bad sooner than fresh milk. We figure that we will be caught with our freezers full in a SHTF event and have stored enough fuel for our generators to run them for a few hours several times daily until all of our perishable refrigerated foods are used up. I like the article on powdered milk and will print this off and note book it.

    1. I have heard that you can extend the life of milk by microwaving it to a point. I have never tried it and I do not have directions for how to do so, but would be an interesting experiment.

  2. I grew up outside the United States without most of the conveniences that many American families have. Non-fat dry milk was the only milk we had until we returned to the U.S. When my kids were small I mixed NF dry milk at night so it was cold in the morning and they could not tell any difference between store bought milk. Grand kids are very spoiled so I mix vanilla and a little sugar in the NF dry milk when they come. We still use it today and never buy anything but cream for certain recipes.

  3. Under “cost” what is the unit of weight? Are the nutrients expressed as milligrams or as something other?

    As much as I’d like to learn to use non-fat dry milk it runs $4-5.00 per pound when it’s available in a store near me. I’m hoping the author will provide sources in the next installment.

    1. I went with a cost per serving for comparison rather than weight because the milk weight will vary depending on how it was processed.

      As for the nutrients, they are percentages of the US recommended daily allowances.

      The Home Storage Centers are located all over the country in major cities. The address following will provide Home Storage Center locations across the US. https://providentliving.churchofjesuschrist.org/self-reliance/food-storage/home-storage-center-locations?lang=eng Most of the other brands are available on Amazon or elsewhere on the internet. Residents of Utah and Idaho may have better prices in their grocery stores.

  4. As I understand the procedure, the lactating mother ‘expresses’ her milk, then dehydrates it, then stores it, then re-hydrates it to feed the infant(s).

    Then, as the infant’s teeth come in, the parents transition their child to solid foods.

    After the child is on solid foods, it has no need for its mother’s milk. Is this accurate?

  5. Animal House is right that letting the milk sit and cool overnight helps tremendously. And if you add just a pinch of salt (about an eighth of a tsp/qt), it helps as well.

  6. Peak brand whole powdered milk is good also, and Meyenburg powdered Goats milk is good to have on hand for babies who cannot tolerate cows milk, and it has a richer taste, but is pretty expensive.

    1. I had an interesting discussion with the man who runs a business providing zoos with nursing formulas for baby wildlife (try making formula for a baby blue whale!).

      He told me that goat’s milk is considered to be a universal nurser for almost all mammals. If you are going to give your baby formula, don’t. Use goat’s milk. God already figured out the ingredients.

      I mostly use it for kittens and pregnant cats, who thrive on it.

  7. I grew up poor in the 40’s and 50’s and that is very different from being poor today. No welfare, no help from the government. Powdered milk was common in our house. I never “liked” it but I can certainly drink it and would choose to drink it if no fresh milk was available. I think most people who treat it with disdain are spoiled by our society/economy with plenty for all. When I went into the military we got powdered eggs overseas and I saw a lot of people turn their noses up at them refusing to eat them. They weren’t what I would call great food but certainly edible. Mostly the perception people have of food is tainted by their lack of experience with these foods AND by their peers talking them down.

    By the way concerning “instant oatmeal”, I eat regular oatmeal uncooked or prepared in anyway just add milk and sugar to taste. I actually find it better than cooked oatmeal. Certainly more solid but not in a bad way.

  8. Nestle Nido. On the hispanic aisle at our store. (Not the “kinder” product, which is sweetened).

    Powdered whole milk. Tastes just like the real thing. Stores well for at least 5 years (and going).

    1. One hundred percent agreement with CPA Prepper on Nido.

      REQEST TO THE AUTHOR OF THE POST: please pick some Nido up in the Hispanic aisle, and compares it to the other brands you tested.

      It is the best dry milk I’ve ever had. It is good both as a drink, and for adding to coffee.

      Nido is a whole milk with vitamins, it really tastes very good (I’m picky), and really does last for five years or more.

      I foolishly kept mine in a poorly insulated upstairs bedroom which is very hot all summer. It tasted fine after five years. It might have lasted longer, but I gave it to a friend who didn’t have much money. She was very happy with it.

      Do NOT buy Nido For Children. I wouldn’t feed my dog that stuff. Too many additives. Get the regular Nido for your kids, and for you.

  9. I totally agree with the above posters. Make it the night before to have it fully chilled by morning. I am picky too and cannot tell the difference. Even Walmart has a pretty good selection in premeasured quart packets.

  10. Re: Shelf Life of Powdered Milk
    We are advised not to store in plastic buckets. Do you have a recommendation for what kind of containers are best? It seems I may have to check mine for degradation, they are in mylar in a plastic bucket.

    Thank you,
    TB

    1. WHO??? – is advising not to store dried milk products in a poly container? >>> and as always we are talking about the use of a FDA certified “food grade” container …

    2. I’m sorry, I should have been more clear in the article.

      When I started storing food 30+ years ago, I purchased dry milk in 25 lb bags and emptied the bags into plastic buckets. The plastic buckets let a lot of light through, and light degrades the dry milk faster. If your milk comes in mylar bags, storing those bags in plastic buckets would not be a problem.

  11. CARNATION Instant Nonfat Dry Milk,

    In FL, my folks always had this dry milk, never bought fresh milk in the store.

    If someone wanted some milk, no problem, just go mix some up, but it was better if is sat overnight in the refrigerator.

    It wasn’t until I got to Parris Island that I saw folks drinking milk without ice cubes in it… It was good stuff, and they had chocolate milk too…

    After leaving home, I just didn’t drink milk for years, but then acquired a taste for fresh milk, which has continued to this day.

    Cresson Kearny always recommended storing dry milk as part of the basic survival ration, http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p920.htm.

    But, that is hard to do down south, even dry milk won’t keep very long in the high temps…

    A few years ago, on this blog, someone recommended storing dried milk and olive oil in a chest freezer to extend the shelf life.

    So, the bottom of my freezer is filled with those two items.

    Dried milk is a lot easier to drink with a bit of chocolate & sugar in it… Of course, that doesn’t help keep your A1C level down…

  12. I will take anyones out-of-date powdered milk as I use it to spray my fruit trees and bushes, also drenching around the base to add calcium to the soil and helps with ‘rust’ that can show up on leaves. I went to my local store to inquire what they do with out-of-date powdered milk and if they would be willing to let me have it. They said “no.” Add some to your compost piles too which adds calcium to the compost. Your trees and plants will love it!

  13. This is a good crowd, that will survive, if hard times come again. A lot of people grew up with powdered milk, being used to stretch the fresh milk. … Check out Survivalblog’s advertiser for a small Gravity Water Filter, that can fit into an Ice Box. (Yes, it is a Refrigerator.) Powdered milk can be mixed in the morning using the cold water. [I gave up a refrigerator shelf to make room for the ‘Traveler’ model Water Filter]

    I used up all my stored powdered milk. It stored a long time. (I switched to storing and using a liquid Milk, that can be stores unopened for I year. I get it at a dollarstore, for a dollar a quart. (I rotate through it) ~ The Milk’s name starts with a G, and is produced in Utah.)

    I also store and use Calcium Tablets. The National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic and others have information about absorption rates. Calcium tablets work; it’s a medical fact.
    Plus, the tablets are just about calorie free. [I’m a guy, and should change my name to ‘Big Floppy Belly’ = ‘First to run out of breath and collapse during a SHTF crisis.’]

    Calcium is >essential for health.
    Anonymous got it right with, adding chocolate powder to the powdered milk; the finicky people enjoy chocolate, and calories don’t count when it’s chocolate (for the finicky better-half).

  14. Tried Nido. HSC powdered milk tastes much better, but Nido makes a good survival food.

    Get HSC hot cocoa mix to go with your HSC powdered milk, but be forewarned the cocoa mix has high sugar content.

  15. As a youngster my dad worked worked at a large dairy after he returned from service in vietnam. As part of his benefit we got a gallon of fresh milk from the bulk tank every and i credit that to never having a broken bone in my life. Thats after working in the woods for our heating and handling cattle and farming since i was 8.
    I have powdered milk stored away for long term which i consider an asset for both family and young livestock. Remember your feed store carries powdered milk made to human consumption standards too.
    Also consider raising a couple milk cows if conditions allow. My great grandfather did during the depression using a herd of milk cows and storing the cans in a spring fed milk house for keeping them cool. Remember if you do cleanliness in handing your equipment is your friend and bacteria is your enemy.

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