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Long Term Storage of Dried Milk

English Dried Milk from World War IIThe 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

Dry Buttermilk
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.

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7 Responses to Long Term Storage of Dried Milk

  1. Rudolph, where can a person buy mylar bags? Is the benefit of mylar the darkness it provides as opposed to a clear plastic bag?

    • I was just going to ask about the mylar bags too. Are you talking about the kind you get with a vacuum sealer?

    • The main advantage is the fact that it’s air tight, and most plastics aren’t. Mylar is opaque but that’s more or less a side benefit.

  2. I’ve been storing dried milk in clean 2-liter bottles with a couple of small oxygen absorbers. Do you think this type of storage is okay? I prefer smaller containers since my family isn’t big on drinking milk and tend to use it only in cereal and in recipes.

    Also, did you know you can buy dried milk in bulk from dairy plants? I got a great deal on a 50# bag — $45. The quality is very good.

    Very, very nice blog, BTW! Lots of information and easy to read. Thanks for visiting my blog, too!


    • Thanks for your kind words!

      I tend to stay away from 2L bottles and milk style gallon bottles for two reasons. Rodents and Chemicals. The rodent one is probably self explantory. Plastic PETE bottles (which is what most soda bottles, for example, are made from) are gas permeable. So if there are any chemical fumes or anything along those lines (ever paint your house?) they can leech through. May not be particularly likely, but I prefer a bit of insurance up front. I’d rather spend a bit of extra money and get something that isn’t gas permeable.

      One option for frugal storage of dried milk would be to combine mason jars from the thrift store with a vacuum sealing attachment. This also lets you optimize your container size based on your family needs, which as you note in your comment can vary greatly!

      Good tip on the dairy plant source, I’ve never purchased from there. I’ll have to look into that here locally!

  3. if i vaccume seal instant non-fat milk then placed that bag in a sealed mylar bag with O2 absorbers how long should the shelf life be, and would it be better to also put an O2 absorber into the food saver bag??