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How Long Does Powdered Milk Last?

How Long Does Powdered Milk Last?

We have heard stories that some folks found a package of powdered milk from WWII, and it did not seem to have gone bad at all. We do not believe everything we hear, though. That is why we have decided to investigate and find the answer to the questions: how long does powdered milk last? Does it ever really go bad?

If you have a package of powdered milk that is months past its “best by” date, you might wanna stick around and find out if you can still use it and save some money.  

Let us find out the actual shelf life for powdered milk together!

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Word Or Two About Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is also known as dried milk, which tells you a lot about how it came to be. Namely, powdered milk is a dairy product made by evaporating milk until it is completely dry. 

Why Do People Make Dried Milk?

The main reason for drying milk is to preserve it. Liquid milk has a relatively short shelf-life even when pasteurized. On the other hand, milk powder does not only have a significantly longer shelf life but does not need to be refrigerated either. It is all thanks to its low moisture content. 

There is one more reason – powdered milk is a lot easier and cheaper to transport. It is far less bulky than liquid milk and does not require any special conditions during transport – not even refrigerated vehicles.

There are different types of powdered milk and dairy products you can find in stores, such as:

  • Dry whole milk
  • Skimmed dry milk
  • Dry buttermilk
  • Dry whey products and dry dairy blends

What Is Powdered Milk Used For?

Of course, first and foremost, powdered milk is used for food. It is as nutritious as liquid milk and can thus contribute to your healthy diet. 

It is also used to produce infant formula and confectionery we all have a hard time resisting, such as chocolate and caramel candy.

Due to the reduced transport and storage costs, powdered milk is also utilized for food aid supplies for those in need. In fact, wherever and whenever fresh milk is not a viable option, dried milk can fill in as a substitute.

If you are a dedicated hiker, outdoor adventurer, or survivalist, you will need easy-to-prepare nonperishable food. Powdered milk is a great option to take with you while venturing out in the wild.

If you want to have emergency supplies just in case you get snowed in or quarantined; for example, powdered milk is an excellent and highly popular choice. It is generally a good idea to stock up on it since it can help you and your kids meet daily nutritional goals.

Nutritional Value

Powdered milk is highly nutritious and high in calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database states that a serving of dried milk (1/4-cup) contains 159 calories. If you stick to the recommended 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, one serving of powdered milk will account for about 8 percent of all the calories you will need for one day.

Powdered milk has both carbohydrates and protein on its nutrients list. Both should be consumed every day. Nutritionists recommend that you eat 130 grams of carbohydrates and 46 to 56 g of protein daily. This means that one serving of powdered milk can provide you with approximately 9.5 percent of the recommended daily amount of carbohydrates. It will also satisfy about 15 to 18.3 percent of the recommended amount of protein you need to get through the day. Powdered milk also contains all 21 standard amino acids needed to build proteins in your body.  

Both vitamins and minerals are present in powdered milk too. First of all, dried milk is an excellent source of calcium, just like liquid milk. In fact, a 1/4-cup serving will provide you with nearly 12 percent of your daily needs. Powdered milk will also help satisfy your body’s needs for magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Sometimes, vitamin D is added to the powdered milk so that it can provide you with between 300 and 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D.

We must warn you that inappropriate storage conditions can significantly degrade the nutritional value of dried milk. First and foremost, you must avoid storing it in conditions of high relative humidity or high ambient temperature. Stay tuned for more on this subject!

WARNING: Most of the commercial milk powders will contain oxidized cholesterol, also known as oxysterols. There will undoubtedly be far more oxysterols in it than in fresh milk. In fact, in fresh milk, there are only trace amounts of this compound. Oxysterols are derivatives of cholesterol. They are usually produced by free radicals or by enzymes. It is believed that they can initiate atherosclerotic plaques.

How To Turn Powdered Milk Into Liquid Again?

If you need one liter of milk, and you only have powdered milk in your pantry, you will be pleased to know that diluting the dried milk is a rather straightforward process. There is a simple formula- simply weigh the water and add about 10% of the water weight of powdered milk.

If you prefer to measure by volume, you can use cups to do it. It may be even more straightforward! Measure one cup of water, and add one-third cup of powdered milk. We must warn you that dissolving the powder can be quite a challenge. We thus think it is best to use the blender to get everything done nice and easily and in minimum time. 

Powdered Milk Shelf Life

What Is The Optimal Shelf Life Of Powdered Milk? Can Powdered Milk Go Bad?

Sooner or later, powdered milk will go bad, but it usually takes a while, especially if it is stored properly. Manufacturers mostly recommend that you should use powdered milk within 18 months. For this reason, it is usually stated as a  “best by” date on the package. 

However, the USDA states that powdered milk can be stored indefinitely. If your package of dried milk is unopened, it will most probably remain usable for 2 to 10 years after the labeled “best by” date. If you visit a survival store, you might even find nonfat dry powdered milk labeled with a 25-year shelf life.

Things are not that simple, though. Many factors influence how long a particular type or brand of powdered milk can last before it goes bad and jeopardizes your health. 

Here are some factors that will determine the shelf life of your dried milk:

The Type Of Powdered Milk

If you want to buy powdered milk that will last the longest – go for the nonfat version. Nonfat powdered milk beats powdered whole milk or buttermilk by a long mile. It is because fat is relatively unstable and can go rancid fast, especially if not stored properly. So, if you are planning long-term food storage, you should best go for nonfat powdered milk.


If you plan to store dried milk for long or want to be able to use it even after the best-by date, it is best to keep it unopened. In this way, it will be completely safe from moisture and oxygen. As soon as you transfer powdered milk into a container or plastic bag, you will reduce its shelf life. Try to keep track by labeling the container and the bag with the date of opening. 

Storage Place

The place you choose to store powdered milk should be dark and moisture-free. If you keep it away from light, especially direct sunlight, your milk will remain good for longer. A dark and cold cupboard or pantry should do the trick! You can also use an opaque container.

Storage Temperature 

Temperature is another contributing factor in the shelf life of powdered milk. The best temp to preserve the full flavor of your dried milk is around 50 F/10 C. Temperatures that are higher than that will contribute to your powdered milk going bad. 

If you want to be sure that your powdered milk will taste the same as when you first tried it even after a couple of years, store it at the appropriate temp. 

How To Tell When Your Powdered Milk Has Gone Bad?

The change of flavor is not the only sign that you should toss your powdered milk. We do not even recommend it as an initial test since you can get sick from minimal amounts of dried milk. 

You should best first use your eyesight to determine whether your powdered milk has changed its standard color or texture. Yellow coloration is a bad sign. If you notice any mold, discard it right away!

If you are not sure, you can move on to your nose and use it to smell the dried milk. An off-odor is yet another sign that you should wave your powdered milk goodbye! 

If your powdered milk looks suspicious, throw it away, and do not regret it! After all, your health is far more valuable than an old package of powdered milk. Never cry over spoiled milk!

After all, your dried milk will lose the vitamins over time too. For that reason, try to use the opened packages within three months.

If you want to store it for longer than that, consider freezing it. It is an ultra-practical method of keeping powdered milk since it allows you to simply scoop out some of it when you need to use it. There is no need to thaw it or bring it to room temperature. Besides, freezing will keep your dried milk fresh indefinitely. 

No matter what storage method you choose, it is always a good idea to transfer dried milk into an air-tight container ASAP and label it with the date of transfer. In this way, you will always know how old it is.

You should best use powdered milk as soon as you reconstitute it. If not, put the remaining liquid milk in the fridge and use it for a few days.