The cornerstone to any long term storage of dairy products is dried milk. It keeps well when properly stored. It tastes reasonably similar to fresh milk when reconstituted, and tastes even better if you add a touch of flavoring such as vanilla extract or powdered milk flavoring (my kids love strawberry!) at the same time as you add water.
What kinds of dried milk are there?
There are three main types of dried milk available to the general public. They have different characteristics and vary widely as to suitability for long term storage
It is what it says it is … buttermilk that has been dried out. It’s a reasonable replacement in recipes calling for buttermilk. The problem is that it has a high fat content. Fat goes rancid easily, and so does this milk. It’s not a good candidate for long term storage and I don’t recommend storing any of it.
Dry Whole Milk
Similar to buttermilk, dried whole milk is heavy on the fat and is thus not suitable for long term food storage. Thankfully it’s pretty rare so the temptation probably won’t be there.
Non Fat Dry Milk
This is what you usually find on the shelves at your local store. It’s non fat so it keeps well, and is what I recommend to you for long term storage.
Rudy’s Tip: You can find dried milk in things such as hot chocolate packets, etc. Be sure to look at the ingredients list to make sure those use non fat milk before you store them. Incidentally, storage of hot chocolate packets is HIGHLY recommended. Yum!
Non Fat Dried Milk it is…
When you go buy this stuff, make sure you buy it fortified with vitamins A and D. This is usually the case, but you want the extra vitamin content since those vitamins are not found in non fat milk. You want to buy the Instant kind instead of Regular, because it reconstituted easily and is easier to find. It takes up a bit more room than regular, but the ease of use is well worth it. Ideally you want ‘Extra Grade’ which is a higher quality product. So to sum up, you’re looking for Extra Grade Instant Non Fat Dried Milk Fortified with Vitamins A and D. How’s that for a mouthful?
Do I need to repackage this?
Yes. The packaging this comes in off the store shelf is poorly suitable for long term storage. In fact, you’re pretty much shot at about three months. You want to repackage it into containers that will keep the milk moisture and oxygen free and away from light. The best way to store it is in mylar bags or #10 metal cans. My personal preference is to repackage it into mylar bags with an oxygen absorbing packet dropped in. Sealed mylar bags are then dropped into five gallon buckets (don’t have to be food grade, but should be new) and covered up with a tight fitting lid. You can also store it in large canning jars with the packet, but you MUST make sure to keep it dark.
So now that it’s repackaged, how do I store it?
Store it in the dark as cool as possible. Heat is the main factor in how long it will store. If you store it at 70 degrees it should keep for about four years. As is often the case, our mantra here is ‘Store it dark, store it cool, store it dry’ for best results.
Rudy’s Tip: Once you open a package, you should use it within three months. Be sure to continue to keep it cool and dark. Make sure you keep this in mind when you repackage your milk.
How do I use it?
Ideally you’d write the manufacturers instructions on the outside of your bag or cut it out and drop it in the bucket with the product. Barring that, figure about 1/3 cup of powder to 1 cup of water for a single serving. You can aerate it like you would water to add oxygen and improve the flavor a bit. Make sure to mix it a few hours before you want to use it so it has a chance to dissolve completely. You can also use this milk to make yogurt, cheese, and the like.