How long does dry milk last?


Need a quick source of calcium while traveling, but unable to keep dairy products refrigerated?

Do you find yourself wanting to cook morning quiche in your new cast iron pan or wishing your oatmeal was a little thicker while camping, but notice that your missing milk?

Dry milk powder is an excellent solution for those times when you want the benefits of milk without the hassle of refrigeration. Once you try dry milk, it will quickly become a staple in your camping diet.

What is dry milk?

Dry milk, also known as powdered milk, is a backpacker’s saving grace for making anything from savory hot chocolate to rich macaroni and cheese.

Simply stayed dry milk is dehydrated milk that has an extremely low moisture level.

Since the 19th century, the practice of dehydrating milk has allowed for the easier transport of milk, along with a more manageable shelf life and lacks the required refrigeration that dairy usually needs.

Originally the Russian physician, Osip Krichevsky, developed dry milk in 1802. By 1832 Drichoff, a Russian chemist had developed the commercial dry milk product that resembles its current form today.

Commonly, dry milk is added to backpacking food to create a creamy flavor.It is also commonly found in infant formula and confectionary items.

How long does dry milk last?

If stored in a sealed container, far away from moisture and heat, dry milk can last as long as ten years.

However, if it is kept in a kitchen setting the shelf life is commonly around one to two years.

Nonetheless, it is always good practice to follow the recommended expiration date on the packaging.

On the trail, as long as your bag of dry milk stays far away from moisture it should easily last throughout your trek.

What is the difference between regular and instant dry milk?

The regular dry milk can be used in cooking or simply to make a jug of liquid milk, while instant dry milk can only be turned into liquid milk.

It takes at least eight to ten hours for regular dry milk to dissolve in water, while instant dry milk dissolves within seconds – even in cold water.

Additionally, instant dry milk also tends to taste more like the milk that we are used to drinking at the dining room table.

However, it takes more instant milk powder than regular milk powder to make the same amount of rehydrated liquid milk.

Therefore, when you are backpacking pick your dry milk carefully while taking a taste, time, and weight into consideration.

When purchasing dry milk it tends to be easier to find instant powder milk in the stores, but it can be slightly more expensive than regular dry milk.

How is dry milk made?

Cows are first milked at various dairy farms. A truck then comes to collect the milk from smaller farms and brings it to a centralized creamery, where it is placed into a holding tank.

From there it is tested to make sure that the milk meets market standards. Once it has been deemed quality material, the milk is run through an evaporator with a partial vacuum that drops the boiling point to around 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

By dropping the boiling point, you are better able to protect the nutrients and taste of the milk.

The evaporation continues until milk solids, which originally started at 12% when the cow had just been milked, rise to 50% (including butterfat, which can range from 1 to 20% based on the consumer preference of non-fat to whole milk).

By raising the milk to 175 degrees Fahrenheit for just twenty seconds, you can finish the pasteurizing process, which reduces bacterial content without damaging the milk.

The evaporation and pasteurizing phases take place simultaneously.

From there the condensed milk is shot into a dryer, which forces the milk into a drier tower some twenty-feet into the air where it is blasted and swirled with 400 degrees Fahrenheit heat.

This process quickly removes the remaining water. By controlling the pressure and time, the milk spends swirling in the tower one can control the dryness of the product.

As the droplets fall downward, the milk is cooled to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, at which time it turns into dust like powder.

At this point of production vitamin, minerals, and additional lactose is commonly added to the powder to increase its nutritional content.

The average nonfat dry milk contains 36% protein, based on weight, and 52% carbohydrates (mostly in the form of lactose), along with 1.8% potassium and 1.3% calcium.

Finally, the dry milk is packaged and delivered to the store for consumer purchase.

Uses for dry milk in the backcountry:

Carrying a small bag of instant dry milk in your food pack offers a great way to add a dose of hard-to-find calcium to your diet while trekking.

Be aware that dry milk does need to be added to clean water. Therefore, always be sure to purify your water source before mixing.

Food Ideas

Here are a few ideas of how to use dry milk in the backcountry just to get your mind cooking:

  • Add a small spoonful to your tea or coffee for an additional creaminess.
  • Dry milk makes an excellent substitute for butter when you need a little fat to make those biscuits firmer and brown nicely. Or use in mashed potatoes for some extra flavor.
  • Add to scrambled eggs to make them heartier. A quick trick when you have a few extra mouths to feed.
  • Perfect for making those morning pancakes nice and fluffy.
  • For backcountry cottage cheese just add a splash of vinegar, and you are good to go! (2 cups hot water, 1.5 cups dry milk, and three tablespoons vinegar)
  • It works as a soup thickener – your potato soup has never been better!
  • Can make easy chia seed pudding in the backcountry. All you need is a chia seed, sugar or honey, water, and dry milk. This is by far the perfect protein dessert!
  • Mix with peanut butter for instant fudge. Another easy and delicious camping dessert.

Other Uses

And if you thought dry milk was just for drinking, here we are to prove you wrong:

  • Cleaning your hands can be hard in the backcountry when you run out of soap. Thankfully, dry milk, water, and if possible, a little lemon juice make a great solution for cutting through grease while also wiping away the grime. Just do not expect this solution to be antibacterial.
  • Dry milk can be used to make glue. If you find yourself in a tight spot, just add baking soda and white vinegar and bring to a boil. (While all these materials are editable, we recommend refraining from eating.)
  • When aloe vera is unavailable, and you have a nasty sunburn, dry milk rehydrated with water can offer a cooling and soothing solution. Rub onto your skin gently. The same goes for bug bites!
  • It can remove ink stains from clothing! Just make a vast large enough to soak the item in and leave overnight, and then rinse.

Do you have a favorite use for dry milk that we missed? Please share with us by commenting bellow! Also, be sure to share with your friends. After all, everyone can use a little more protein in the backcountry!

    Alison Lawrence

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