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Milk is a staple food in a lot of homes. During an SHTF scenario, however, your access to inexpensive and readily available liquid milk might quickly disappear.
The supply chain is much more fragile than what many would imagine and without refrigeration and pasteurization it is very hard to make milk stable enough to stay fresh for eating for very long so shipping times would basically make it impossible for you to get unless you are very close to a dairy.
For this article, I expanded out to include options for those that cannot have regular milk. There are a lot of delicious alternatives for preppers like myself that are lactose intolerant.
The thing to remember is that dairy products are valuable sources of calorie dense energy that can make foods a lot better and more comforting during an emergency situation.
Nutritional Benefits Of Milk
Muscle mass is important. Good sources of protein are key to keeping your physical condition up and for healthy hair and skin.
Powdered milk offers an inexpensive and vegetarian option for protein for preppers. Those with growing kids should pay careful attention to how much protein-rich foods they put back.
2. Vitamin Rich
Milk products contain Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and calcium. Vitamin A is important to your vision and immune system. Vitamin B helps maintain energy levels and encourages a healthy red blood cell count.
Vitamin C is there in a small amount but it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra when your body is stressed. Vitamin D has an antioxidant effect and prevents damage to your cells from environmental stressors.
Skim & Non Fat Milk Powder Is Not The Best For Major Prepping
For preppers, I have a hard time recommending skim and non-fat milks because they take up just as much space in your prepping pantry, have less calories, and are harder to use to make things like yogurt and butter substitute.
If you find a good deal that is one thing but if you have a choice, choose to put back whole milk. While you may be watching your diet in your regular life, in a survival situation, calories and fat are something you might need a bit more of to maintain your physical condition and stay warm during the colder months.
Whole Milk Powder
This type of powdered milk can be difficult to find. Most powdered milk is skim or non-fat which has considerably less calories per tablespoon and doesn’t perform like its whole milk counterpart when cooking or baking.
Whole powdered milk is less common and more expensive but there are some good brands out there that can be ordered with ease.
This will make 3 gallons of whole milk. It is no more expensive than a standard gallon of organic milk at my local grocery store.
This milk is produced in Holland where there are good food quality standards in place. I would trust this powdered milk more than any non-organic powdered milk produced in the United States due to the use of antibiotics in the commercial agricultural system.
Bulk Milk Powder
You get what you pay for when it comes to powdered milk. A too good to be true price is something you should question before you buy. The expiration date may be coming up soon for example or it may be non-fat rather than skim.
The quality may not be what you expect is the gist I am getting at.
People sometimes give bad ratings for just simple things like their package arrived a day or two late or a bad opened up during transport and had to be replaced. Here is one bulk choice that is readily available and has consistent quality.
This powdered milk has been my go-to in recent times since Peak milk powder is much more expensive and harder to get. I make yogurt and yogurt cheese out of it regularly. It is very good instant powdered milk. I was impressed with how quickly it dissolves and how well it mixes in water. It is an excellent substitute for fresh milk and it is very affordable when purchased in 6 lb bags.
Alternatives For The Lactose Intolerant
I used to drink a lot of milk and uncultured dairy products but as I got older it was clear that I could not continue to do this.
If you are part of some ethnic groups then your chances of lactose intolerance over the years can be greater. I know this from personal experience. Even a small amount of Native American background, for example, can contribute to lactose intolerance.
Eating for your genetic background can help you be healthier but it is often not discussed. If you have some yogurt culture or buttermilk culture, you can make those products with powdered whole milk. Skim results in very thin yogurts but it can still be good.
Powdered Goat’s Milk
Even if you have some powdered cow’s milk on hand you should have a few cans of powdered goat’s milk.
Powdered goat’s milk can be used in place of infant formula or to raise any baby mammal. Powdered cow’s milk should never be used in place of formula. The term Nanny Goat has roots in the practice of using a nurse goat when a mother could not produce adequately for her baby.
Goat’s milk is also easier for adult humans to digest as well so if you are a little bit sensitive to dairy normally, goat’s milk may be a viable and delicious alternative. If actual lactose intolerance is the problem though then goat’s milk is still not going to agree with you.
This is useful for baking and cooking. Any dish that calls for cream or buttermilk you can use powdered sour cream as a substitute if need be.
The flavor may be a bit different than what you are used to if it is used in a sweet dish.
There are several major brands out there that are tasty. Budget brands often have Yellow #40 or #5 in them so if you are trying to avoid that then make sure to read labels carefully before ordering.
Cheese powder is not the cheapest food to buy but a little goes a long way. A 1 lb of dried cheese powder is like having 5 lbs of cheese or more so even at $25.00 for a pound of organic cheese powder is a pretty good deal and adds a lot to something that might otherwise taste bland.
It is far cheaper to make your own mac and cheese this way than to buy those tiny boxes with the cheese packet in them.
Again this is not a cheap way to put back dairy but it exists and can be good for adding flavor and thickening dishes. You can also make smoothies using powdered yogurt and freeze-dried fruits.
That is some fancy prepping right there but it can add a lot to morale to have some treats put back with your other more staple foods. SHTF scenarios can be trying on the body so keeping yourself in good condition is important.
I could see powdered yogurt being really fabulous to have during a natural disaster, too. When I was a kid, I went through plenty of major floods on the Skagit River and the nearest major grocery store was 10 miles away.
Even after being allowed to go back to your house, it was still pretty awful to deal with the mess and try to keep it together with meals and such. My dad was always prepared because he actually knew what it was like to go without food and water and never wanted me to experience that.
Where we lived we could get some major snowstorms too so you really needed to stay on top of your prepping in the wintertime or do without the small luxuries like yogurt.
I love this stuff. In fact it is what we buy instead of Peak powdered milk now that I cannot tolerate lactose. I use this in place of regular milk in recipes and it comes out good. Powdered buttermilk contains a lot of calories so try not to be put off by the price.
Bob’s Red Mill is readily available and comes in plastic so once you open it you will need to transfer it to some other container. If stored without a moisture absorber it can clump but you can still dissolve and use it.
I have forgot about it in jars with just a closed shaker lid for months at a time and it has never went bad or tasted off in the least.
Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Cream Buttermilk Powder
Increasing Shelf Life
A lot of powdered milks come in cans that are sealed and then have a plastic lid. These are nice to have because they are very waterproof and protected against moisture. Some powdered milks now come in plastic pouches which are another way to ensure a long shelf life.
If you catch a deal on powdered milk in boxes, it is best to take some steps to increase shelf life if you want it to be part of a very long term food supply. To do this, you will need to:
- Use a food sealer and have some moisture absorbers as well.
- Put powdered milk in your vacuum sealer bag and add your moisture absorber. Larger bags may be best with two absorbers depending on the size of the absorbers you have.
- Seal and label with date.
Sealing up smaller amounts of powdered milk also means that you are opening smaller packages each time so there is less risk of spoilage. This can be a factor if your household is just two people or yourself. Opening up a pint of powdered milk powder is far different than opening up a gallon size bag and trying to keep it fresh and dry in a survival situation.
Things happen like spills, bugs, moisture at times so losing a little portion of a small bag is not going to have the impact on your long term food supply that losing a 5 lbs container of powder milk would have.
Making Your Own Mixes With Powdered Milk
You can definitely utilize your vacuum sealer to make some custom baking or drinking mixes that are very shelf stable. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
This is a good way to create mixes that are suitable for those on restricted or specific diets. A lot of premade mixes are extremely salty or may contain ingredients that you just don’t care about putting into your body.
Powdered milk can be added to any of the following:
- Biscuit and Pancake Mix
- Yeast Bread Flour Blends
- Hot Cocoa Or Flavored Coffee Blends
- Used in place of regular coffee creamer. Many of these contain a lot of artificial ingredients, making powdered milk a better choice.
- Gravy and Sauce Powders
As you can see, powdered milk is very versatile and adds a lot of nutrition and energy to just about anything.
How much should I put back?
The answer to this like so many parts of prepping depends on size of your family and your dietary preferences. Also you may be considering foods that are good to have put back for trading or if you plan to take in someone else in a SHTF situation.
It is key to remember that while you may be a very prepared person, you can’t do absolutely everything or plan for some things. Having some calorie dense trade items could be helpful.
Since milk products do have a shelf life then you will want to think about that. Some preppers that use powdered milk in the home anyway just rotate their powdered milk supply out over time.
This means you don’t have as much spoilage. On the other hand it takes a long time for milk to go truly bad in powdered form especially if you have it vacuum sealed with a moisture absorber.
Making Yogurt With Powdered Milk
You will need a cooking thermometer to do this. I am not saying that you can’t do it without one by paying attention to what you are doing but accuracy can be helpful!
- In a pot, combine 1 cup powdered milk with 2 cups of water.
- Heat milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from heat and cool until 110 degrees
- Add some store bought plain yogurt. The more you add the faster the culture will work. If I am using a gallon of milk, I try to add a cup of plain but even a few tbsps will work eventually.
- Put milk and culture mix in a place where it will stay warm. A temperature of 100-110 is ideal. You can even put a cast iron flat skillet on a woodstove that is really hot and set your container on that in a pinch. An oven set to the lowest setting with the door propped open a bit is another method or you can heat water in a canner and set mason jars full of soon to be yogurt in the canner. This requires paying more attention but you may have a bit more time to do that in a SHTF Scenario.
- Leave at temperature for 3-4 hours. If may even take a little longer. You can check to see if separation is occurring but don’t stir or do anything like that
- Refrigerate or strain off with cheese cloth to make greek yogurt or yogurt cheese. If you don’t have much refrigeration you can eat on yogurt for a day or a little longer if temps are not too hot without it going bad.
What is strained off from making greek yogurt or yogurt cheese can be used in breads or other cooking to avoid waste.
Whole milk powder makes thicker and creamier yogurt and is recommended if you are going the yogurt cheese or greek yogurt route. You can use a bit of your old batch of yogurt to start a new batch if you save it.
There are also commercial yogurt cultures you can buy and keep put back. These can be reconstituted and then you can then use a little from the previous batch of yogurt to keep going.
The Extras Are Everything
So plain yogurt is definitely a good substitute for sour cream and some other dairy products but let’s face it – that it is going to be pretty boring to just eat it without anything to go with it or in it.
Putting back some jam or jelly or even just some sugar and vanilla is going to add some needed variety to your yogurt. The plus side is that you are in control of the flavor and sugar content unlike when you buy the mass-produced yogurts.
Butter Making With Powdered Milk
I think it is pretty amazing that you can actually make butter with powdered milk and a few other basic ingredients. This is not a traditional cream butter but it is far better than nothing in a survival situation. This is more of a substitute.
The taste and quality are totally dependent on what you put in it. Skim powdered milk is never going to taste like what you are going to get from whole no matter how much you use.
Since I cannot use regular powdered milk for my own consumption, I tried this using Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Cream Buttermilk and Organic Coconut Oil. Here is what we tried out at our house.
- ¾ cup Sweet Cream Buttermilk Powder
- ¼ cup coconut oil (you may have to warm this up a little to get it more blendable)
- A splash of water to get to the right consistency
- Pinch of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
I could see doing this for a healthy butter substitute for regular use since it is easy to make but it really doesn’t taste anything like butter to me. It wasn’t bad but it was not the best. It would still be a lot better than not having anything creamy to spread on bread though.
Using a food processor, blender, or mixer can speed up the process a bit but could make clean up more labor-intensive if you are only making a small batch of butter substitute. If you use coconut oil that is unrefined the coconut flavor definitely comes through.
Using this service can be a good way to put together a prepping plan on a budget because you can set it up to deliver things each month to put back and save money.
It is possible to find restaurant supply stores that sell powders in bulk. If the order minimum is too much then you might want to split it up between you and a prepper friend or just wait until you can do a bigger order.
Make sure to double-check any deals that seem too good to be true. You don’t want to try to put back milk that is close to the expiration date.
Powdered Milk Is Easy To Get Started Putting Back
The cost of powdered milk is low enough that it makes an excellent resource for putting back when you have just a few dollars to put towards prepping. Since so much of it comes in already sealed containers you don’t usually have to rush to take measures to preserve it further.
The plastic containers from Hoosier Farms or cans from Peak have a plastic lid that can be used to reseal. The only reason to have to use mylar or vacuum seal bags is for very long term survival foods or if you are incorporating into mixes or just simply want to make smaller sealed portions for freshness over time.
Do you have any favorite recipes or mixes you make with powdered milk? How about just a good place to buy powdered dairy?
Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on the side of a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
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