Essential Pantry Ingredients: Powdered milk


Powdered milk in your hot chocolate - how tantalizing!

Powdered milk in your hot chocolate – how tantalizing! Seriously…


Having a secret stash of powdered milk hidden in your cupboard is not exactly sexy or exciting; it’s not like having a bottle of rare brandy stashed away only to be broken into on special occasions. Few of us have heard the words, “Time to break out the powdered milk!” when celebrating. But instant powdered milk, most often the fat-free or “skim milk” variety is a healthy, handy and helpful foodstuff that has a place, if not in our hearts, at least in our cupboard.



Powdered milk has been around for a long time. The famed historian Henry Yule noted that as far back as the thirteenth century Marco Polo wrote of the Mongols under Kublai Khan riding around with sun-dried skim milk. Since then the process has been modernized and most powdered milk, whole or skim is produced by spray drying concentrated milk into a heated chamber. The water evaporates leaving dry milk powder.

Milk fat is not a bad thing, but not everyone wants to drink whole milk that has a milk fat percentage of 3.25%. (Whole milk is also available in powdered form, as is soy milk for those avoiding milk.) Long before dairy suppliers started marketing 2% milk, thrifty families were making their own by making a batch of skim milk from powder and mixing it equally with whole milk. Voila: 2% milk.


Mix with whole milk for 2%

Mix with whole milk for 2%


Skim milk     vs     Whole

Fat (1 cup) 0g 8g
Calories (1 cup) 86 146
Saturated fat (1 cup) 0g 5g
Protein (1 cup) 8g 8g
Sugars (1 cup) 12g 13g
Cholesterol (1 cup) 5mg 24mg
Sodium (1 cup) 127mg 98mg
Calcium 30% 28%
Vitamin A (% daily value) 0% 5%
Vitamin C (% daily value) 4% 0%


Out of buttermilk? No problem....

Out of buttermilk? No problem….


Skim milk powder is easy to mix with water and dissolves quickly, making it a great choice for backpackers and campers as it is a lot less taxing to carry a bag of powder than a gallon of milk! To make a quart simply mix ½ a cup of powder with 3 1/2 cups cold water. We like having a big jar or bag of powder in the pantry mostly for emergencies, like when you find you’ve run out of milk and need it for a recipe. Reconstituted powdered milk works just fine in most recipes calling for milk. And for recipes that call for whipping cream, just add ¼ cup of skim milk powder to a cup of milk and mix thoroughly. In that vein, if you have a recipe that calls for buttermilk or evaporated or sweetened condensed milk and discover you’re all out, you can whip up your own substitutes using skim milk powder. We got the following recipes for each from Tess Pennington’s great book, The Prepper’s Cookbook: 365 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals

Buttermilk recipe:

 Take a cup of water and add one third of a cup of dry powdered milk, mix it well and then add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Mix this well and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes before adding it to your dish.

 Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Equivalent to 14 ounce can

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  1. In a small saucepan, add  the butter in the hot water and stir until combined.
  2. Pour into a bowl and stir in the dry milk powder and sugar. Mix well until the sugar and milk powder are dissolved.

Evaporated Milk Recipe

Equivalent to 12 oz. can

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup nonfat instant dry milk
  1. Place the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously.

And finally, here’s another recipe from Ms Pennington for a Hot Cocoa Mix that you can make in big batches. Why pay big bucks for it when you can make your own for pennies?

Hot Cocoa Mix

Makes 6 cups


  • 2 c. dry milk powder
  • ½ c. non-dairy creamer
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. cocoa
  • Dash of spice such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cayenne or pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a cool, dry space.
  2. To make drink, add 1 cup of warm milk or water to 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa mixture.


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