I avoided powdered milk for years. I thought it was only good for drinking and I didn't much like drinking it. However I have discovered several uses for it and I always have some on hand. I buy 25lb bags of it and seal it in #10 cans in order to give it a 5 or so year shelf life. But it never makes it that long. I do LOTS of things with it now. I always keep a quart made up in the fridge to use in recipes because I live with boys who are big milk drinkers and this makes the store bought gallons stretch a bit more. It does not affect the casseroles or baked goods.
One year I waited until Christmas morning to bake pies. (WHAT was I thinking.) I went to make my beloved pumpkin pies and realized I had forgotten to buy both sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Unable to run to the store, I had to figure something out quick. Here's what I found and have been using ever since. I cannot even remember the last time I bought either of these things.
Sweetened Condensed Milk:
Bring 1/2 cup water, 1 C sugar and 3 TBSP butter to a boil. Let cool slightly. Add 1 C instant non-fat milk, whisk until smooth. Makes the equivalent of one can. Will keep in the fridge for 1 week if you want to make it ahead of time.
I don't use instant milk. I use the regular kind. In doing so, I need to use my stick blender with this to get it smooth.
The coolest part of this recipe is that after it is made, but while it's still hot, if you throw in a bag of chocolate chips and heat on low until melted, you have FUDGE! Pour into a buttered dish and cool in the fridge. (I make all my fudge this way using a variety of flavored chips.)
Mix 1 1/2 cups water with 1 cup powdered milk in a jar. Shake.
That one's hard, right? Why on EARTH would I pay over a buck for something that is this easy to make!!! This makes one 12 ounce can (I always re-measure when adding to recipes though) and you can add 2 tbsp. of oil to make it "whole" evaporated milk. Also can be made ahead and stores for about a week.
(Note to kitten lovers. Should you find an abandoned litter of kittens and need to feed them, or supplement a runt, this is an excellent recipe for them. Only use a healthy oil, like coconut or olive. I used this to supplement one of my kitten's who kept getting pushed out of the nursing line and she grew bigger and faster than the other sweetlings!)
The third thing I do with powdered milk is make Ricotta/cottage/farmers cheese. This is why I don't buy instant NF milk. You can't make cheese products out of instant.
The basic recipe is this:
3C powdered milk
2/3 cup oil
Heat to 110 degrees.
Add 1 1/2 cup white vinegar and stir. You will quickly see the proteins coagulate. This is the cheese. After everything has separated, (doesn't take long) drain the whey off, squeeze the ball of cheese and rinse. (I should note here that I have done this with store bought gallons of milk when I needed ricotta cheese and had no powdered. It turned out fine.)
At this point you will have a ball of brittle cheese that can do a few different things with it. If you crumble it up and add a bit of cream or whole milk, you can use it as ricotta cheese in recipes. You can also add a bit of cream and some salt and you have cottage cheese. The taste/texture is a bit different than store bought. With fruit and cream, my boys don't seem to care.
Third, you can add a bit of butter, cream, spices and seasonings to make a spreadable cheese. Garlic herb is one of our favorites. To one batch I took the basic cheese recipe and crumbled it. I added 1/8 cup butter and enough cream to cover the bottom of a medium sized pan, 1 tsp baking soda, a few pinches of onion salt, garlic salt, black pepper and diced jalapenos. Melt it all down and pour into a mold or bowl. This makes a great cracker topper that has the consistency of Velveeta. To another I added a few ounces of bleu cheese, a bit of shredded cheddar, garlic salt and rolled it in nuts. The possibilities are endless. I am always experimenting. Let your imagination go with the flavored spreads.
I don't yet have a cow, but for now I have the next best thing. Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and cheese spread are some of the things I no longer buy, but make, all from a humble bag of powdered milk.
M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother’s life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series—as well as her own research into the Roarin’ Twenties. She has authored eight books, two novellas, one book of short stories and a serial. Gardner is married with three kids and three cats. She resides in northern Utah. Find the first book in her epic series here.