Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Country Fresh vs. Country Cream - Powdered Milk Review (Real Instant Nonfat Milk)

Powdered Milk is such a wonderful product, and in my mind an essential part of any food storage system.
I think for the most part people are either really wierded out by the idea, or they love it.
I am the latter.

I went through a period of 3 or so months without buying fresh milk, just to try it out.
This is what I learned...
There are lots of different brand names that make powdered milk.  I have tried several of them and none of them taste like real milk (to me). 
However, I was making milk and putting it back into an original milk carton.  I told my husband a few weeks later and he had no idea.  Neither did my kids.
I usually drink milk plain - my husband and kids usually have it only in cereal or with chocolate, so they didn't notice as much as I did.  Also, I drink 1%, and powdered milk has more of a 'skim milk' thickness.

My point is, brand names are not important... for the most part they all taste relatively the same.
So... what is important?
Price and Quantity
Some brands are obviiously cheaper than others, but they use more powder per serving.
The most common brand I see in local stores is Country Fresh Farms.  It looks like this:

This is the ONLY brand of powdered milk that some stores offer.
(please do not be confusing instant powdered milks with Dry Milk Alternatives, which are different, but that is another post, for another day... I am only reviewing real instant powdered milk today)

Another brand of powdered milk is Country Cream.  I have been able to find it consistently at Macey's, but even there I've had to look for it.
They recently changed their label, so it will either look like this:


Or it will look like this:

These are the two most commonly found at the stores I shop at, so here are some comparisons between the two:

Country Fresh Farms:
Price: ~$10.00
Location: Most local grocery stores; walmart, maceys, etc.
#10 can makes: 9 quarts (2 1/4 gallons) of milk
Powder needed to make 1 gallon: 5 cups
Price per gallon: $4.44

Country Cream:
Price: ~$15.50
Location: Maceys
#10 can makes: 20 quarts (5 gallons) of milk
Powder needed to make 1 gallon: 2 1/2 cups
Price per gallon: $3.00

Pretty self explanatory.

Country Cream Powdered Milk is my brand of choice
It uses the least amount of powder,
which results in easier mixing (less foam),
and in my opinion tastes better than the other brand.

So how about Nutrition Comparison:
Country Cream and Country Fresh Farms are extremely similar in nutrition, almost identical, despite the fact that one uses half as much powder.
So... I am only going to compare nutrition between Country Cream Powdered Milk to Skim Milk:

1 c. Country Cream Powdered Milk:
Total Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 110 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 12g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
 Sugars: 12g
Protein: 8g

1 c. Skim Milk:
Total Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 130 mg
Potassium: 410mg
Total Carbohydrates: 13g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 12g
Protein: 8g

They are almost identical - excpet that Skim Milk contains potassium, and powdered milk does not.

So... lets go over some of the basics:
(Following text taken directly from can):
DIRECTIONS: Mixes instantly with a spoon.  Just add the desired amount of water and stir.  2 2/3 c. powder + 1 gallon of water = 1 gallon liquid.  2/3 c. powder + 1 quart water = 1 quart liquid.
For cream like consistency, mix one part powder to two parts water.  Best when chilled over night.
INGREDIENTS: 100% real instant nonfat milk, Vitamins A& D.

How about a Quality Check:
Smell: powder and liquid hardly have any smell at all
Taste: Taste is similar to skim milk, but you can tell a difference (depending on the person).  My nefew thinks it is 'sweeter' than regular milk
Texture: Just like water - no powdery residue
Looks: Just like skim milk
How long does it last once made?: I wouldn't go longer than 5-7 days

What about Shelf Life?
There is nothing written on the actual milk container.
The following information was retrieved from my own personal research regarding nonfat milk (regular or instant) - I belive I found it at the UofU food extension site, but I can't remember.

Temperature Stored At:
50 degrees F or below = 52 months
70 degrees F = 24-36 months
90 degrees F = 3 months

Is it worth it?
In my mind, absolutely.  It would be awful to be without milk in an emergency. 
However, it has a shelf life of just over 4 years (at best), so as always, I recommend that you start using it if you are going to store it.
I always have a can opened in my pantry, ready to be used, so I can rotate through my supply.

And by 'ready to be used' I don't mean that we drink it.  Powdered milk can be substituted for regular milk in any recipe, which is a good way to rotate slowly through your powdered milk supply, without having to actually drink powdered milk. 
Which in turn means you aren't wasting anything!
To substitue powdered milk for regular milk in recipes, simply add the powder to the dry ingredients.  When adding the wet ingredients, include the water.

Most containers only tell you how much powder is needed to make at least a quart, so I have figured out the amounts needed for regular recipes:


If you already have Country Fresh Farms, or simply choose to buy that brand, then here is that recipe conversion table:

So, if you decide to store powdered milk,
How much do you need?:
On average, my family of 4 uses around 1 gallon of milk per week.
One #10 can of Country Cream Powdered milk makes 20 quarts, which is 5 gallons, so
12 cans would last us at least a year.

If I was buying Country Fresh Farms, I would need over 24 cans for a year... another reason why Country Cream is my brand of choice.

All in all, it should be included in everyone's food storage system.  But I am a firm believer in using what you store, so don't be afraid to actually try it.  You might be surprised.

**UPDATED 11/11/13
As sad as it is, Country Cream brand milk has disappeared from my local stores.  I wanted to update this post to let you all know the current instant and powdered milk that I am using since Country Cream has vanished.  The price is more, but I am actually much more impressed with the product than I every was with Country Cream, and it is definitely better than the Auguson Farm and Morning Moo's alternatives.  You can click the links below to find out more information or to order online:
Thrive Instant Milk
Thrive Powdered Milk 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought a lot of this milk in Y2K Dec. 1999 and have it stored in an unheated room in my basement under my front porch. I was wondering if it was still good, so I called Country Cream 801.748.0808 in Sandy, UT. They said if you store it in a cool dry place, that it will keep for 20 yrs., so I opened a can of my 13 year old Country Cream dry milk and tried it. Tasted great! Country Cream said that the milk won't make you sick regardless of how old it is, it just won't taste very good and may have lost some of it's nutrients. They recommend keeping it in at least 70 degrees or below temperatures, not in your garage where it gets hot in summers. This milk does have one of those stay fresh packets in it when you open it up. We store Nestle's Quik for those in our family who don't like the dry milk taste. You cannot tell it's dry milk at all with the Nestle's Quik in it. Just thought you'd like to know...