Dairy is an important part of our diet. It provides protein, fat and calcium, all essential for good health. And it’s essential to some of our favorite foods: cheese, yogurt and ice cream. And who can eat cookies without a glass of milk?
When you are thinking of putting dairy into your food storage, you have three choices: instant, non-instant and freeze-dried. There’s no clear cut answer which is best. They each have their pros and cons.
Instant Powdered Milk
When we think of powdered milk, this is usually what we’re thinking of. Instant milk is the easiest and most readily available. You can buy it in any grocery store. If you want to store a lot of instant milk, there are dozens of online sources for bulk purchases.
Instant milk is milk that’s evaporated in a vacuum chamber, which removes most of the moisture. Then the
concentrated milk is sprayed into a heated vacuum chamber where it dries into little granular pellets. Since the process doesn’t use high temperatures, it has less of that “off” or cooked flavor we hate about powdered milk.
– Mixes instantly with cold water
– Readily available
– Has a better flavor than non-instant milk
– The most expensive way to store milk
– The most bulky way to store milk
– Uses 2-3 times more powder than non-instant
– Only stores 1-2 years
– Longer storage life, 3-5 years or longer
– Less expensive
– Uses less powder to make a batch of milk
– Less bulky, you can store a year’s supply in a much smaller space
– More work to reconstitute
– Most people find the taste disagreeable
Non-Instant Milk Powder
Non-instant milk powder is also made by concentrating the milk to remove most of its water. But it’s cooked at a higher temperature than non-instant milk, so it has more of an “off” or cooked flavor when it’s reconstituted. Then this concentrated milk is sprayed onto heated rollers which produce a finer, denser powder.
Since the powder is finer, it takes up less space to store. And it means that it takes less powder to make a batch of milk. But it also tends to clump when you add it to water. So you have to either blend it in a blender or add it to hot water to get it thoroughly dissolved.
This article will give you pointers on how to improve the taste of dried milk.
Freeze-dried milk is frozen and then dried in a vacuum chamber. This makes a find powder that takes up less room to store but it’s not as fine as non-instant powdered milk. Because it is never heated, the flavor is as
close to regular milk as you can get.
It has a longer shelf life—up to 25 years if properly stored.
Really, the only draw back of freeze-dried milk is the cost and availability. There’s lots of freeze-dried milk products: butter, buttermilk and cheese. And there’s a lot of freeze-dried goat’s milk and camels milk. (Who knew?) But I have yet to find a reliable source of bulk freeze-dried cow’s milk.
– Longer storage life, up to 25 years
– Tastes almost identical to milk
– Nutrition is identical to milk
– Most expensive
– Good flavor
– Long storage life
– Takes the same amount of space as non-instant
– Better for those with dairy allergies
– Nutrition is a little different–less protein, more calcium
– A bit sweeter than other milk
– More expensive than other dried milk
– Cannot make yogurt
Your Fourth Choice
You do have a fourth choice: milk substitute. There is a popular milk substitute made from whey. It has about half the protein as other dry milk. The milk substitute is less expensive than freeze-dried but more expensive the other dried milk. And it doesn’t taste exactly like milk—a little sweeter than milk—but the flavor is not objectionable. If you are using it on cereal or in cooking, no one will ever have reason to complain about the taste. And no one will complain about the chocolate variety. It’s really yummy!
Since it’s made with whey, it has much less lactose than regular milk. That makes it a good substitute for people with lactose or dairy sensitivities.
But it also means that you cannot use it to make yogurt. The biggest thing it has going for it is storage life. Some producers say that it can store up to 25 years. I found that the flavor and color started “aging” after about 10 years but still perfectly usable.
Dairy is Important
If you want a long-term food storage that will keep your family well-fed and healthy for a long time, dairy is essential. It’s even more important if you have young children in your family. Put these milks to the test—both tasting and cooking—to see which one is best for your family.