When you think of milk, you mostly likely envision a tall glass of ice cold white liquid, and the idea of milk in a dry powdered form may seem odd. However, when mixed with water, dry powdered milk provides the same health benefits as traditional milk. If you choose powdered milk as your primary dairy source, you must take into account certain considerations for its proper storage and preparation.
Milk intended for powder preparation goes through the same evaporation, pasteurization, separation and standardization processes that fresh milk does, according to Mark Silvas of Humboldt Creamery. To make powdered milk, the prepared milk continues through one of two types of drying mechanisms, either the traditional spray nozzle or the newer atomizing wheel. Both processes remove water from the milk, powdered milk is the result.
Dry milk undergoes the same processing that fresh milk does. However, instant dry milk varieties have a small amount of lecithin added, which allows the milk to reconstitute more easily. Lecithin, a lipid molecule, naturally occurs in your body as an important component of cell membranes. However, commercially sold lecithin, including that used in powdered milk preparation, comes primarily from soybeans. If you avoid food additives or have a soy allergy, you may want to choose regular powdered milk over the instant variety.
Reconstitution is the process of adding water to dry milk to make the liquid product. Follow the directions on your powdered milk packaging to ensure proper preparation. Regular dry milk typically requires less poder than instant dry milk for the same yield of liquid milk. However, regular dry milk does not dissolve as easily since it does not contain lecithin, requiring you to use a blender or electric mixer to obtain a smooth texture.
Dry powdered milk contains all of the nutrients found in liquid milk, including high-quality protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals, according to the Washington State Dairy Council. An extra benefit of powdered milk is that you can add it to other foods for a protein or calcium boost. You can supplement foods such as mashed potatoes, cooked cereals, meatloaf and hamburgers with powdered milk without adding excess fat or calories.
Depending on your situation, powdered milk may be a more economical option over fresh milk. Powdered milk is shelf-stable; if properly stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry location, nonfat powdered milk can keep for up to a year. Whole powdered milk has a shorter shelf life in terms of taste due to its fat content, and you should discard it if it smells or tastes off. However, this isn’t the case for nonfat dry milk. The Washington State Dairy Council explains that you can safely use nonfat powdered milk whose flavor has deteriorated as an ingredient in recipes. Once reconstituted, powdered milk has the same shelf life in the refrigerator as fresh milk.