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Food Storage Tips: All about powdered milk

Cost of reconstituted powdered milk versus fresh milk

Crystal at Everyday Food Storage has done the math on the cost of reconstituted powdered milk per gallon. One can of powdered milk from the cannery makes a little over 5 1/2 gallons. Milk prices have jumped around a lot in the past couple of years. Recent prices per gallon, according to Crystal:

around 2006 $1.15
late 2007 $2.36
June 2008-present $1.87
In the late 1990s, the price of powdered milk worked out to about 75 cents per gallon, which was about half the cost of fresh milk at that time. My husband and I drank it then because it saved so much money.

Because of the recent price increases, powdered milk is actually more expensive than fresh milk in some cases. We bought our last batch of powdered milk at last winter’s high price of $2.36 per gallon. I was surprised to find skim milk on sale for $1.66 per gallon at the grocery store last week. We have been drinking powdered milk for the last year, so we can rotate milk that was going to go to waste otherwise. We have used up the last of the old milk, and now that milk prices have gone down, we’ll happily switch back to drinking fresh milk. We’ll continue to store powdered milk, and use it up before it goes bad, but we won’t use it everyday in the name of frugality.

Our family’s history with powdered milk

My husband and I started drinking powdered milk as newlyweds to save money. It was also more convenient in some ways. We didn’t have to go to the grocery store as often. We could mix up small batches that would not go to waste. I used it to make yogurt occasionally.

We switched to fresh milk when our children were young. Children under age 2 need milk fat for their brain development. We got used to drinking fresh milk as well.

We started using powdered milk again last year. We thought we would have to move, so we used the powdered milk so we would have less food storage to move. We mixed the reconstituted powdered milk with whole milk to make 2% (half powdered, half whole) or 1% (1 quart whole, 3 quarts powdered) milk. The kids got used to the taste and didn’t seem to mind.

Last year we also got some old powdered milk from my mom. She had canned it prior to Y2K. It was time to use it before it went bad, and she kindly gave it to us. It had been stored in a hot garage, and it didn’t taste as good as it used to. But it wasn’t terrible, and the price was right. We just finished using up that old milk.

Differences between brands of powdered milk

We have some experience with three brands of milk: the milk from LDS canneries, Country Cream, and Morning Moo. My sister has also used Nido, which is whole powdered milk distributed by Nestle.

Generally, the milk from the cannery is cheapest, but there are brands that taste better.

My mom thinks that Country Cream tastes best. She says that refrigerated reconstituted Country Cream is indistinguishable from store bought skimmed milk. Country Cream is sold at Macey’s grocery stores in Utah Valley.

Morning Moo is officially “milk alternative.” It is made from whey. It contains much less protein than regular powdered milk. I opted against storing Morning Moo because one of the main reasons you store powdered milk is for the protein. I also tried a can of 9 year old Morning Moo stored in my mom’s garage. It tasted much worse than cannery powdered milk of the same age stored in the same conditions. I’m not picky about powdered milk taste, but it was barely palatable.

Nido is great to store if you have little babies that need the milk fat. My sister has found it in the Hispanic section of the grocery store, or in ethnic markets. She finds it convenient so she doesn’t have to shop for whole milk at the grocery store. It might be nice for families to store for making ice cream or other special treats. I’ve never tasted it, but we have a can in our basement.

Difference between instant and non-instant powdered milk

There are two kinds of powdered milk: instant and non-instant. Instant powdered milk is available in the boxes at the grocery store. Non-instant is what you get at the cannery. Instant looks like little flakes, and stirs up a lot more easily. Non-instant takes some work with the whisk or the blender for it to mix up. It takes twice the volume of instant powdered milk to reconstitute into a gallon of milk, compared to non-instant. So, if you are following a recipe that calls for powdered milk, it’s really important to know what kind of powdered milk they are talking about.

How to reconstitute powdered milk

We reconstitute our powdered milk with a whisk. Our family drinks a lot of milk now, so I usually stir up a week’s worth at a time. I store them in old milk jugs that I rinse out with diluted bleach, to get the sour milk smell out. To make 1 gallon of cannery powdered milk, I measure out 3 cups of powdered milk in a large plastic bowl. Then I add 1 quart of water and stir vigorously with a whisk. I scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate the little milk “seeds” that need to be stirred in. When it is thoroughly mixed, I pour it into the old milk jug. Then I add another two quarts of water. There are a lot of bubbles on top. I place the jug in the fridge while I wait for the bubbles to go down. A few hours later I’ll fill up the jug to the top with water. I put the top on and shake it. I’ve seen other recipes call for adding vanilla and sugar to powdered milk to make it palatable. I think that makes the milk taste weird, so we don’t do it.

Other cool things to make from powdered milk

Check out Crystal’s ideas at Everyday Food Storage.

Remember all of Hillbilly Housewife’s ideas, including a recipe for cottage cheese. She also has instructions for homemade yogurt. I intend to write a post about that someday.

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