“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How Perplexing!


 I am not trying to make jelly. I'm trying to reconstitute powdered milk. It is not going well.

I feed my dogs and cats milk with their supper. I want to be sure they are getting the calcium they need. They get table scraps, and they get quality cat and dog food. Not the cheap stuff that comes in 50 lb bags, but the good (and expensive ) dog and cat food.

The outdoor animals, besides being my associates and friends, are also working animals. They provide me with essential services which I appreciate.

First Timothy 5:18 applies:

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages."

But now, with both of us retired, I am trying to look at our lifestyle and see what, if any, savings we can obtain by making changes in how we do things.  Milk is expensive. I have ten 25 pound pails of powdered milk I haven't opened in eons.


I don't like powdered milk. Instead, I keep cases of evaporated milk in the store room, and if we don't have fresh on hand, we use that. If I don't have fresh milk for the animals,  I mix up evaporated milk with water in a big bowl, and give them that.

But I want to start using up the powdered milk. Can't be too hard, you just add water, right?

Tonight I made a huge bowl of it. I boiled water in my coffee pot on the stove, added a good dose of sugar to the powdered milk, and poured in the hot water. It immediately clumped up. I had to use a wooden spoon to mash up the clumps, then use an egg wisp to beat it some more.  I thought I got all the lumps out.

But when I poured it in the bowls on the porch for the animals, there were huge clumps like sugar cubes on the bottom. Clearly something went wrong.


  1. Maybe the milk is doing that because it's old. It's been around for about 15 years, but it's in sealed containers and supposed to last twice that long if properly stored, and it was.
  2. Maybe I should not have used boiling water. I did so because I wanted the milk to be warm when I gave it to the animals, and I thought boiling hot water would also help it to "melt" and return to liquid.
  3. Perhaps putting sugar in it messed it up somehow.

Since I have vast quantities of this stuff , and would like to both save some money and use up the powdered milk, I don't want to just throw my hands up in the air.  I can serve it to them as it is, they liked it and they ate all the lumps, but I find it aggravating that I can't seem to get it to work right.

Any ideas?



The cartoon De joure



41 comments:

  1. My first thought is to use cold water, if you get the same results I'd venture to wager that it is the age of the powdered milk.

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    1. K, I will try cold water tomorrow night. It annoys me that with my well stocked library of survival books, some of which are specifically about cooking with long term food storage, I could not find one word of guidance on something as simple as reconstituting powdered milk. Maybe the authors assumed it was so simple that writing about it would insult the intelligence of their readers. They reckoned without me!

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  2. If mixing the powder with cold water won't work, try adding a small amount of water to the powder and make a slurry first, then add more water to thin out.

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    1. I probably should not have tried to make a huge mixing bowl full right off the bat. Starting with a small amount and mixing it to a slurry makes good sense. Somewhere in my head I have the idea that I once read that adding a teaspoon of olive oil to a pitcher of powdered milk will make it have more of a real milk consistency. I may try that once I get the clumping figured out, but the animals didn't seem to care about the consistency.

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  3. Same as what K said. I just use the water out of the tap. Once reconstituted you can warm it up.

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    1. Hobo, that's my plan for tomorrow night. I could just set the mixing bowl in the larger of our microwaves, it would just fit and should warm up nicely. The animals might like it as well cold but I have always warmed up their milk, so they are used to it.

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  4. I don't have animals to feed, unless you count kids. They mostly drink water. There's more calcium in pumpkin seeds, steamed greens and broccoli, than there is in milk. The boys get milk at school. I keep powdered milk around just in case we need it.

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    1. Alissa, that's why I have such a big store of it. I used the Mormon food storage calculation program years ago, to figure out a base line for the number of people I expected here if things went bad. The program lets you calculate for gender and age, and it's very detailed. I've adjusted what I store over the years as the age and gender (and number) of the people I anticipate coming changed. I don't like powdered milk, or any milk really, but I bought everything the computer list said.

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  5. My advice would be to skip the milk for your pets. A lot of dogs and cats can be lactose intolerant, and most have enough calcium. Save yourself the headache :)

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    1. Becca, I could do that I guess, but I would hate too. They all seem to enjoy the milk very much as part of their supper. If one of them were lactose intolerant, would that make them sick? I've heard the expression from time to time on tv, and when I was teaching I had to make sure I didn't have any kids with that in my class at the start of each school year, but I have never really understood the ramifications of it.

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  6. Total agreement with the above. Mix enough cold water to make a thick-ish custard consistency lump-free paste, then you can add hot water to warm it up ;)

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    1. That sounds like a plan, Dani. I have pudding from the same company, it looks just like the powdered milk product, except you mix it up to the custard consistency by beating it with a spoon or whisk while you add water, then you put it in the ice box and it thickens up. They make banana, butterscotch and chocolate pudding. I know it must be stiff with sugar so I don't eat it often, but it's really good!

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  7. If all else fails try putting it in the blender. I use powdered milk all the time and usually only mix i quart at a time, using water straight from the tap never ever had a problem so I guess I'm not really a lot of help but the blender should take out the lumps, then warm it up in the microwave.

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    1. I don't have a blinder, mallardhen. I could buy one I guess, they don't cost a lot. I do have a couple of microwaves. I know this will sound dump, but I usually heat liquids in a pan on the stove, because it seems like every time I use a microwave, I wind up making it way too hot. Sticking your finger in it doesn't work because at the top it's one temp. but at the bottom it's a lot hotter. None of my microwaves are new, maybe they don't do that anymore. The one I use the most is at least twenty years old.

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  8. If it is not the instant kind, you have to add a little cold water to the powder....kind of like cocoa powder and milk.
    Use a big wisk, if you have one, or maybe an immersion blender. Then slowly add the rest of the water.If it is not instant, that's what you have to do. As long as the milk has not succumbed to humidity and remained dry.....crunchy sound when you press a spoon in the powder....it will last forever. If your cats are catching mice and eating them, they are getting plenty of calcium. Too much is not good, either....hard on the kidneys. If your calcium/magnesium ration is off, you will have problems.

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    1. I have a big wisk, so that's on track. The milk has been sealed in mylar bags in sealed pails, the one I opened yesterday was in perfect order.

      Everybody seems very healthy, which is really the only way I have to judge about whether or not the milk is good for them. I don't give them vast quantities. For 10 cats and two big dogs I put out about one pitcher full. I have to spread everyone's plates and bowls out on the porch, or the cats won't get any because the dogs will drink their's and then the cats rations as well. I have to stay out there anyway though until the animals finish feeding, because the chickens will come eat everything otherwise. I usually feed the animals after dark because the chickens have roosted and aren't a problem then.

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  9. hate the stuff.
    mom always used room temp water.
    if it clumps yet, try whizzing water in a blender and adding a bit at a time through the lid opening while continuously whizzing.

    the slurry idea sounds good ,too, like when mixing cornstarch.
    if the ideas work you could make a very thick batch, keep in fridge, and thin with warm water to the proper thickness when needed.

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    1. I don't drink it either. Just got it because the Mormon long term food storage list said to. And I suppose that you could cook with it.

      If I get the stuff right I plan to make a big jug of it and just divvy it out every night. Cleaning up the mess from all this mixing is not something I want to deal with every night. I actually doubted the animals would drink it, but they seemed to like it as well as the real stuff. They aren't very discerning about that kind of thing!

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  10. I found this chart in case they did not provide quantities. Maybe it will help, she reconstitutes her milk too. http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/reconstituting.htm

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    1. That sounds like just what I need. Last night I just mixed it up til it looked like milk, but that's a pretty lame way because it's so inexact. I could have tasted it, but I don't like real milk and I knew I wouldn't like this stuff. Thanks for the chart, Kathy.

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  11. I don't know the exact formula of powdered milk, but I imagine that it is much like the protein whey powders that I use to augment my daily protein intake. The casein sticks together like crazy. The idea presented above about making a slurry first works well, especially in our blender. I don't know how hard your water is, but protein is coated a the molecular level with negative charges and if you have a substantial amount of Calcium or Magnesium in your water those two cations have a plus two charge, each of which attracts a negative charge off of the casein (or any other protein, of which, milk has several casein being the main one) and that helps protein to stick together. So, I don't thing the age of the protein has diddly squat to do with your clumping problem....kinda comes with the territory.

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    1. I actually just had my well water tested professionally, cost me $110.00. I used to pay $35.00 to send a sample to a lab, but now the only kits I can get are where you dip something that looks like litmus paper in a sample and there's a color chart in the kit that tells you if it's safe to drink. No information on anything else, just "yes" or "no." I wish I could find the old kits you sent off to a lab, because I had to use a well driller and they reamed me good. They charged me $75.00 just to drive way the hell out here, which I guess is fair considering the distance they had to come, but still.....

      I read the part of your comment on the charges at least four times, and I think I have it now. Science was never my strong point. I think there is a lot of calcium in our water, because when I clean out the humidifiers there is always a considerable build up of some hard, white substance that looks like something you'd see on the shores of the dead sea.

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    2. All my home brewer friends use Ward Labs for water analysis. Looks like coliform is $19.25, $21.00 more if you want to know mineral composition.

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  12. P>S. Also, perhaps try using an electric whisk to mix the milk and water - that should also smooth out any lumps ;)

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    1. I don't have one, Dani. I try to stay away from electric can openers, mixers, blenders, etc in favor of things that produce the same end result but would work if the power went out.

      However, I am thinking that I might get some electric devices like a food processor and a blender because the arthritis in my wrists is making the manual devices harder to use. I would still keep the manual equipment as a backup of course.

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    2. you can get a blender that you use a handle like the winder on a car window to whip it.
      i have a salad chopper that works the same.
      can't remember where i saw the manual blender. maybe start at amazon and then look for other suppliers of the product.

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    3. also, they have a balloon whisk attachment in some of these devices.

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  13. Do you have an electric mixer? As an examle:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B009VUHLHA/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1450452684&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=electric+beater+mixer&dpPl=1&dpID=41UyAuOu3BL&ref=plSrch

    Add the water in slowly mixing it in as you pour then use it longer longer to get consistency and remove any remain lumps?


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    1. Matt, I don't. I have always tried to steer clear of electric appliances and use manual devices that accomplish the same goal, so that if the power ever goes out it won't effect me that way. But as I mentioned to Dani, the arthritis in my wrists is getting worse and it makes trying to do everything like whisking the powdered milk harder. So I may buy a food processor and a blender to take that burden off. If the power goes I can always go back to the old way.

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  14. I make up a quart of powdered milk at a time to use in my morning coffee. I fill a stainless steel pitcher with COLD
    water, then pour in the powdered milk, and stir with a spoon. Takes about 15 seconds for it to dissolve completely.
    It is so easy. It's only me here, so a gallon of milk from
    the store would spoil before it got used up. About 3 years ago, the biggest box that Winco sells, was about $8. Now it is $16. Still cheaper than fresh milk that will spoil before I can use it up. JB

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    1. JB, I think where I went wrong last night was using boiling water. The general consensus has been that it was the hot water that made it clump up. So tonight I am using tap water from the cold side, and mix up another bowl full. I hope it goes smoothly.

      I drink powdered creamer in my coffee sometimes, but I've never tried drinking powdered milk in it. Would you say it tastes about the same? Because if it does, I could stop buying the powdered creamer at the store. Not that it costs a lot, but I'm taking a hard look at every facet of our lifestyle now that the wife is retired, and looking for outright waste. Since I'm Scotch Irish there shouldn't be much of that to be found, but it doesn't hurt to look.

      God knows I have enough powdered milk to provide creamer for myself and the next two hundred years worth of descendants if the stuff tastes good. Just the name "powdered milk" makes you think it wouldn't though.

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    2. On the back of the box are directions for how much powder to mix with how much water, for 1 cup, 1 qt., 1 gal, etc. I always mix in about 1 1/2 for what it calls for, so it is more like regular whole milk, rather than skim milk. Many many years ago I saw what happened to dairy creamer on Myth Busters, and the ingredients in dairy creamer. That is when I started using just powdered milk. I think it is actually better than dairy creamer. I always make sure to mix it up the night before, and let it get cold over night in the fridge. I think that is why it thickens up and I can't tell the difference. JB

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  15. Regular powdered milk is more difficult to mix. The slurry thing should work. I use the instant powdered milk mainly because it is easy to mix up without the lumps and clumps. Which doesn't help you at all at this point!

    On another note - I nearly killed one of my dogs by feeding him dairy. When he began peeing blood I took him to the vet who told me that dogs should not have anything dairy because it can cause calcium crystals to form in the bladder. I'm not saying that is true for all breeds of dogs because I don't know for sure. But when I stopped giving him milk and stopped giving him cheese treats, the condition went away. Don't suppose the occasional Dairy Queen cone helped much, either. It is possible to kill our fuzzy buddies with love and kindness.

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    1. Vicki, several folks have said that very same thing. The two I have now have never evidenced any sign of illness, so maybe it's not something that bothers labs and hounds. In fact,the vet always says they are too fat when I take them to the annual rabies clinic, but that's because they can get all the chicken eggs they want since the chickens are free range.

      I'm going to have to think this over. With so many knowledgeable people saying it's bad, maybe I do need to stop but they are used to their milk every night at supper. I can't afford to give them cheese. But I do have a lot of cheese powder, I could mix that up with water and give it to them. Cheese powder is something I use myself though, unlike the powdered milk that has been down in the store room for ages.

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    2. There may be a difference in the effects on breeds. I had two cocker spaniels at the time. One got sick. The other never did. I let them have the leftover milk in a cereal bowl and only gave them a small piece of cheese once in a while as a treat. Dairy Queen...maybe once a month or longer. But that was enough to cause the calcium crystals to build up in the male's bladder. Vet said no milk, no cheese and absolutely no Dairy Queen. The dogs really loved that ice cream. Sigh.

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    3. when in doubt, ask the vet.
      also drs. foster and smith have faq's online and an ask the vet section.
      dog here gets some milk, esp. if the cats leave it. he also gets occasional cheese but not often.
      he looks like he is part g shepherd, black and tan with teeth like a wolf and a huge skull but only weighs about 85 lbs.
      these things have not harmed him.
      you might look up powdered milk, there may be no lactose after the drying process?
      as someone said, also depends on minerals in the water supply.

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    4. Vicki, they are like people. If you like something, somebody is going to do a study that says it's bad for you. Then two years later they will say they were wrong and it's ok to eat it. Then two years later.....

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    5. Deb, I'll spend some time on the powdered milk issue. As you said, it may be that once the milk has been through the dehydration process it doesn't have any negative impact on the dogs.

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  16. Harry,

    A Vet Tech once gently lambasted me some years ago for giving my cat a bowl of milk every day. She also looked down on my ideas of feeding my dog cheese with his dinner and a weekly treat of an ice cream cone. She said dogs, cats and other animals are unable to digest the milk sugars in dairy products very well as they all lack some kind of enzyme, if I remember right. Now and then is ok but it will cause the animals to develop diarrhea if they get too much.

    I've always thought that powdered milk should be mixed with cool-room temp water and I add the powder to the liquid, never the opposite otherwise, it clumps to the bottom of the pot.

    I like milk but I don't often drink it fresh as it usually spoils long before I finish it in qty. Freezing is not an option as my freezer is full of proteins. Being that I only go to town every 4-6 weeks, when I do want some I mix up some powdered in a Balls quart jar and shake vigorously using cool water.

    I dislike the taste of powdered milk in particular but I found a way around the taste problem in that I add a very small amount of either vanilla or almond extract after I have mixed a batch. The extract masks the unpleasant taste of powdered milk quite well.

    With a new 21# Pail of Powdered milk running $125 at EE, I would suggest that even though you have tons of it, it would be better used for barter in the coming collapse. It's coming, sooner than we all think. Then again, I was 3 years early on the housing collapse so I think we're about 18 months into the next 3 year event. Paranoid much? yup, but it's comin.

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  17. My God, I haven't check the prices but that's an amazing increase.

    My situation is a strange one. I am 63, and considering the possibility of moving from the mountain top where I've lived for the last thirty years to a town. So I've been trying to get rid of anything I haven't used, if I can do so in a way that benefits us in the long run.

    The powdered milk, of which I do indeed have vast quantities, seemed like it could replace the cost of the fresh milk which I dole out with the dry dog and cat food each night.

    I've been getting ready, full bore, for the end game since 1999! I sometimes wonder if we are going to just quietly gutter out, like a spent candle, instead of in some traumatic explosion of violence.

    I do know things are winding down to a sad ending. But now I think we may just end up living in a Third World Country where there are rolling blackouts, people don't work, crime is astronomical, government dysfunctional to the extent it's non-existent. All the rich people will move to islands in the Caribbean, after they kick all the poor people off, and the rest of us will live in some "Mad Max" universe. Kind of like the old Sean Connery movie, Zardoz.
    Stranger things are happening right now.

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  18. I don't even like real milk, but I appreciated your thoughts on how to disguise the taste. I'll pick some vanilla extract if we don't already have some. You never know what you might have to do down the road.

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