Can Powdered Milk Go Bad?

Have you found an old bag of dry milk that’s a couple of months past its date, and not sure whether you need to discard it? Even though it’s just powder, you’re still asking yourself: does powdered milk go bad?

Fortunately for you, in most cases that old powder is still fit for use, even if it’s past the date on the label.

Opened powdered milk
Opened powdered milk

Can Powdered Milk Go Bad? How To Tell If Powdered Milk Has Gone Bad?

Powdered products can spoil; there’s no doubt about it. They can either actually go bad, or become useless due to degradation of their qualities (like taste, or potency). Both options apply to dehydrated milk.

When it comes to the first option, if the powder inadvertently comes in contact with water, it will go bad in a couple of days. If you see any signs of mold, wet clumps, or the fact that moisture got in the package is obvious, discard it. Same thing if the powder develops an off or funny smell or its color changes.

Powdered milk in a cup
Powdered milk in a cup

For the latter, powdered milk, unlike baking powder, doesn’t have any potency it could lose. But its flavor can degrade over time, and at some point stop being good enough to use.

If you suspect that yours might have reached that point, reconstitute a small amount and give it a taste. If it’s okay, feel free to use the rest. Otherwise, get rid of it.

The longer the powdered milk is past the date on the label, the higher the chance its flavor won’t be good enough to drink.

Mixed powdered milk
Mixed powdered milk

How Long Does Dry Powdered Milk Last?

Powdered milk typically lasts for months, or even years, past the date on the label. As long as the powder isn’t spoiled, it should be safe to use. Please note, however, that the vitamin content degrades over time.

Like regular dairy milk, powdered milk comes with a best-by date on the label.

For dry milk, that date is merely an estimate of how long will the product retain its best quality. And a rather safe one.

Some companies sell powdered milk with a 2-year shelf life, while others say their product lasts five years. There are also survival shops that sell dried milk that’s supposed to last for a quarter of a century.

And all of them use similar or the same production methods and processes.

Because of that, I wouldn’t pay that much attention to the date on the label.

If the powder didn’t spoil, prepare a small amount, and check if it’s okay to drink or not.

Cooked powdered milk
Cooked powdered milk

That being said, you should know that nonfat dry milk retains quality better than whole dry milk. That’s because the former doesn’t contain any dietary fat, which makes it more stable.

Last but not least, let’s touch upon the topic of nutritional value.

While the nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, fat (if there’s any), and minerals, remain untouched for years, you cannot tell the same about vitamins.

The vitamin content slowly degrades over time, so if you want to take advantage of that added vitamin D, make sure to use the powdered before its date.

Cocoa and apple pie
Cocoa and apple pie

How To Store Powdered Milk?

Storing dry milk is no rocket science. You already know that, like all powders, it doesn’t like moisture in general, so keep it in a dry place.

The powder also doesn’t particularly like heat, so choose a place that’s nice and cool. A cabinet or shelf in the pantry seems to be the best choice.

You should also keep the powder away from direct sunlight, but that’s usually already covered by the opaque package.

Once you open the package or container, make sure the leftover powder stays sealed tightly. So if it was a paper package, transfer the rest in a freezer bag or airtight container, and seal it properly before returning it to storage. If the container is transparent, put it in a dark place.

If you don’t plan on storing the powder for years to come, a simple clip should do the trick as well.

Cocoa based on powdered milk
Cocoa based on powdered milk

Another storage option that works great for an opened package of powdered milk is freezing it.

Powdered milk tends to lose flavor much more quickly after opening, and freezing it might be the best way of preserving that flavor.

The whole process is as simple as sticking the container or bag with the powder into the freezer. Remember to seal it tightly before doing that, though.

There’s no need for defrosting, just grab as much as you need with a spoon and use it.

Apple pie and cocoa for dessert
Apple pie and cocoa for dessert

Summary

  • Powdered milk goes bad if it gets in contact with water. If you store it for too long or in poor conditions, its flavor will degrade, and you might find it not good enough to drink.
  • Dehydrated milk lasts years when stored in proper conditions. Even if it’s a year or two past its date, it still makes sense to give it a go. More often than not, prepared milk will be just fine in terms of taste.
  • Nonfat dry milk retains quality for longer than a whole-fat one.
  • Once you open the container or bag, make sure the leftovers are in an airtight container or bag. Feel free to freeze the powder in that container to keep the flavor for longer.