A great substitute to regular, liquid milk, powdered milk is far easier to store and purchase in bulk. This makes it great if it takes you a while to use an entire gallon of milk or can’t make it to the store as often.
Powdered milk is known for its long shelf life, but just how long will it take for it to go bad? This will vary, depending on whether or not the container has been opened or if the powdered milk has already been mixed.
Here’s the bottom line: If stored improperly or opened, powdered milk can go bad. Knowing any signs of spoilage will help prevent a stomach ache. Read ahead to see the shelf life of powdered milk and how to check if it has gone bad.
What Is Powdered Milk?
So, what is powdered milk anyway? Powdered milk is made from pasteurized, dehydrated milk.
There are many advantages to powdered milk, as it is easier to store and can last for far longer. It is also far easier to purchase and store in bulk. It is a useful product for those that cannot regularly purchase milk or do not have ample space for refrigeration.
By adding water, powdered milk transforms into a similar liquid to regular milk. It can be used in most ways that liquid milk is used.
Note: The information and recommendations included in this article are specific to powdered milk, not baby formula, which has its own properties and storage requirements.
Shelf Life Of Powdered Milk
Even though powdered milk is a dairy product, it has a far longer shelf life than your standard fresh milk or dairy product. In fact, powdered milk is a useful addition to kitchens because of its long shelf life and versatility.
Most powdered milk products will have a manufacturer-recommended “best-by” date included on the packaging, though this is largely for quality assurance rather than safety. Because of this, powdered milk can often be used for months or years past its recommended date.
Unopened powdered milk can remain of good quality for over 5 to 10 years if stored properly. The USDA labels it as a shelf-stable food, meaning powdered milk is a non-perishable food item that can be used indefinitely. However, it can go bad if stored improperly.
The clock begins ticking when you have opened the container of powdered milk. After opening, powdered milk will typically last up to 2 years.
While powdered milk can last indefinitely, you should always check for any signs of spoilage or loss of quality.
Has This Powdered Milk Gone Bad?
When stored improperly, or if you have a compromised batch, powdered milk can go bad. You should check for any signs of spoilage before use.
First, check for any visible appearances of spoilage. This can include large clumps, changes in texture, color, or consistency, or even the development of mold.
If the powdered milk appears fine, you can then check for any changes in scent. If it smells off or sour, it should probably be thrown out.
If the appearance and smell are fine, try mixing a small amount. If it tastes abnormal or sour, you will want to throw it out. It is important to remember that powdered milk is still milk, so consuming it when spoiled can lead to a bad stomach ache.
Some manufacturers will fortify the powdered milk with additional nutrients, such as vitamin D or added calcium. While often perfectly safe to consume, aged powdered milk may have lost some of these added nutrients.
Proper Storage Of Powdered Milk
Stored properly, powdered milk remains good for a very, very long time. Powdered milk should be stored in a cool location, away from any direct sources of light or moisture.
Keep in mind the cabinets next to and above stoves and ovens will get warm and can develop condensation. Powdered milk should not be kept in these locations, as exposure to moisture will cause it to spoil rapidly.
Once opened, the container of powdered milk should be tightly sealed after each use. This will keep it safe from moisture, air, and any potential pests.
Helpful Tip: If your powdered milk comes in a bag or packaging that is not re-sealable, it should be transferred to an airtight container that can be properly sealed.
What About Prepared Powdered Milk?
If you had a hankering for some milk and made too much, you may want to save the extra for later. Or, perhaps, you prefer to prepare your powdered milk in larger batches. This is perfectly fine!
Prepared milk should always be refrigerated immediately after mixing and should be kept in an airtight container. Once mixed, prepared powdered milk will be good for a few days.
Before using prepared milk, you should double-check for any signs of spoilage. This can include clumping, sour smell or taste, and changes in appearance.
In Summary Of Powdered Milk
- Powdered milk is useful, largely because of its extended shelf life.
- Stored properly, powdered milk can safely be used indefinitely.
- Unopened powdered milk can be used for many years past its expiration date.
- Opened powdered milk is good for up to 2 years past opening.
- Unopened and opened powdered milk should be stored at room temperature and kept away from any moisture.
- Mixed powdered milk is good for a few days when refrigerated, but will spoil quickly.
- Though it does have a long shelf life, powdered milk can still go bad.
- Signs of spoilage can include a sour smell or taste and clumping.
Unsurprisingly, powdered milk has an extensive shelf life, making it a useful addition to not only pantries but also emergency stockpiles.