Powdered milk is an absolute godsend for those who like to have milk constantly at their disposal but don’t want to have to travel to the store regularly. Given that in some countries, their milk can go bad within the space of a few days, this is one of those ultimate stockpiling hacks. So, whether you’re a doomsday prepper or you live hundreds of miles away from civilization, this is one of the most useful powdered products out there. It has seemingly infinite uses, it lasts for a long time, and in some cases, it actually tastes better than the real deal. We particularly like to use it as a culinary ingredient because of this. It can just be tucked away and pretty much forgotten about until next time it’s needed.
However, nothing good can last forever. Eventually even the most robust of food products seem to fall into decline. They go from good, to just okay, to flavorless – or in some cases, they just skip all of this and go rancid. Because of this, we decided to have a closer look at powdered milk just to see exactly how long it can be stored for. Is it really as indestructible as it seems, or can it all go horribly wrong if left unchecked? With these questions in mind, we decided to put together a guide on how to store powdered milk, how long it will last, and what will happen when it begins to go off. If that’s the kind of information you are looking for, you’ve come to the right place!
The Best Way to Store Powdered Milk
Having looked into it, we have discovered that storing powdered milk for long periods isn’t exactly rocket science. Yet, there is still plenty that can go wrong if you are not careful. Let’s face it, stocking up on a particular product only to see most of it going to waste is at the very least annoying, and sometimes even positively painful. So, here’s how to make sure that never happens to you.
Unopened Powdered Milk
There isn’t a single powder in the world that will deal well with a moist environment. So, this is the key thing that you should be focusing on when it comes time to stock up. In order to ensure that it lasts for the maximum amount of time, seek out areas in the house that are cool, dark, and moisture-free. For most of us, that will mean putting it in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet away from either the kitchen or the sink. Direct sunlight can also damage the contents over time, so try to avoid that also. For this reason, it is not all that unusual to see powdered milk stockpiled en masse on shelves in the garage.
Opened Powdered Milk
Powdered goods can last for an incredibly long time in their unopened state. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply for opened containers. The reason for this is that as soon as the powder comes into contact with air other than the air it originally contained, the clock starts ticking towards its expiry. There is no magical way to make it last as long as an unopened container would, but there are a few things you can do to make it last quite a while. Once the container is opened, the next step is to minimize its contact with air. With some containers, you may be able to close them up airtight again, but with others, this simply isn’t possible. Instead, your best bet is to transfer the remaining contents into either a re-sealable bag or into an airtight container. If either of these is transparent, make sure to put them in a dark place.
How Long Does Powdered Milk Last?
Unopened Powdered Milk
Most powdered milk brands seem to have agreed that their product will last for up to two years if stored correctly. However, the sell-by dates on powdered milk can be considered as estimates rather than thinking that after that date the contents are done for. The truth is, in most cases, the contents of the container can keep for a considerably longer time than the date would have you believe. So, if you’re thinking about throwing out some slightly out of date powdered milk, don’t do it! We estimate that an unopened container of powdered milk may be good for up to two years after the sell-by date has passed. In fact, some brands out there manufacture a powdered milk designed for survivalists that has an expiry date of 25 years!
Opened Powdered Milk
Though some powdered products begin to expire straight away after opening, this one is a lot more resilient than most. Provided that no foreign bodies have worked their way in and there has been no contact with moisture and sunlight, there is no reason why your powdered milk won’t last until the sell-by date. So, in this case, giving an exact date is nearly impossible. It really depends on the storage conditions in each case. Because of this, we would recommend getting to know the signs that your milk powder has gone off. Luckily, we’ve got a section below that talks about precisely that!
Rehydrated Powdered Milk
So, you’ve rehydrated some of your powdered milk only to then realize that you have done way too much in one go. It happens. But, all is not lost. Simply pop the extra milk into the fridge where it should keep for up to four days more.
Signs That Your Powdered Milk May Have Gone Off
The signs that your powdered milk has gone way past usable are subtle, but if you know exactly what you’re looking for you can save yourself a nasty surprise. Essentially, all you need to do is tune in your senses and run an easy sequence of tests. In the first test, all you need to do is to check the appearance of the powder. If it has gone in any way beige or even yellow, the chances are high that it has gone off. Another thing to look for is whether there are any clumps of powder present. These can indicate when moisture has gotten into the container. When this happens there is no saving the powder. It needs to be thrown out. In the worst-case scenario, your milk powder could well have developed mold in extreme cases. Again, the only remaining option is to get rid of it.
There are also some odors that can be picked up which will give you a good sense of whether you can use the powder or not. These won’t necessarily smell like regular old sour milk. It is a bit more subtle than that. Nevertheless, if you notice a funny smell, it is best to throw out the contents. In most cases, the only thing that will really go wrong with milk powder is that it will begin to lose its flavor as time goes on. So, if it has passed the other tests and you’re still not sure if it’s good, the only thing left to do is have a taste. Simply reconstitute a little bit of it and see what happens.
Can Powdered Milk be Frozen?
Freezing powdered milk is actually a great idea, especially if the container has been opened. By simply putting it into an airtight container or bag and putting it in the fridge, you can extend its lifespan indefinitely. However, due to the fact that unopened containers of milk powder already have a really long shelf life, there is rarely a reason to do this.
Powdered Milk Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
How is powdered milk made?
First, pasteurized milk is evaporated down until only 50% of the liquid content remains. Then, this remaining liquid is sprayed into a super-heated chamber where the liquid instantly evaporates leaving only a fine powder.
Are there still nutrients in powdered milk?
Remarkably, yes! Manufacturers of the product have managed to evaporate the milk in such a way that it still retains its rich nutritional profile. That being said, fresh milk still contains more B5 and B12 vitamins in comparison.