A helpful guide explaining how to use various shelf stable dairy ingredients, including buttermilk powder,  powdered milk and evaporated milk.

If you’re having trouble finding milk, buttermilk or eggs or are looking for ways to extend the life of your favorite dairy products, using shelf stable alternatives might be an option for you.

Shelf stable refers to food that is non-perishable and that can be stored at room temperature. Canned foods, dried goods, syrup, honey, peanut butter and granulated sugar are all examples of shelf stable foods.

Perishable foods, like milk or eggs, can become non-perishable, but they need to be treated with heat or dried out. This process kills microorganisms that can cause spoiling or foodborne illness.

Most fresh dairy products will spoil if left alone for too long; however, there are shelf stable versions that last much longer than their refrigerated counterparts. These non-perishables include powdered milk, evaporated milk, powdered egg substitute, egg white substitute and powdered buttermilk.

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is milk which has been heated to remove all the moisture so only the dry solids remain. There are a couple different kinds of powdered milk, the two most common being whole powdered milk and non-fat powdered milk.

The biggest difference between whole fat and non-fat powdered milk is how long they last. Fat is not a stable ingredient, so whole powered milk (which contains fat) will spoil quicker than the non-fat version.

Powdered milk can also absorb odor when not stored properly, so make sure to seal the powdered milk completely in an airtight container and keep it away from moisture and strong aromas.

How to Use Powdered Milk

To use powdered milk instead of fresh milk, follow the package instructions to reconstitute the amount of milk necessary for your recipe. You can also mix the powdered milk in with your dry ingredients, then just add the appropriate amount of water where you would normally add milk.

Powdered milk can also be added to savory soups and sauces to make them creamier (whole powdered milk is great for this), or added to smoothies, milkshakes or oatmeal.

Powdered Milk Shelf Life

The great thing about powdered milk is that it can be stored indefinitely. The “best by” date will give you a good idea of how long it will last unopened, but a rough estimate is that powered milk should last anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

What is Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk is similar to condensed milk with one major difference. Both go through a process to remove some of their liquid; however, condensed milk is sweetened, evaporated milk is not.

How to Use Evaporated Milk

Since it doesn’t contain a sweetener, evaporated milk can be used as you would use cream in sauces and soups. You can even use evaporated milk to substitute for milk in baked goods. Simply combine ½ cup evaporated milk and ½ cup water for every cup of milk in your recipe.

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last?

Properly stored, an unopened can of evaporated milk will stay at best quality for 18 to 24 months. Any leftover evaporated milk should be refrigerated in an airtight container and used within three days.

What Are Powdered Eggs?

Powdered egg substitute is dehydrated whole eggs. Egg white substitute is similar, just without the yolk. Just like powdered milk, all the moisture has been removed, leaving only the dry solids. Many egg substitutes can last several years, making them perfect to have on hand in your pantry.

Just like powdered milk, powdered eggs can also take on aromas from nearby foods, so be sure to store it properly in an airtight container to better extend its life.

How to Use Powdered Eggs for Baking?

Powered eggs can be used in place of fresh eggs in everything from baked goods to casseroles. You can reconstitute them following the package instructions (typically you’ll need 1 tablespoon egg powder to 2 tablespoons water for 1 whole egg, but different brands will vary), or you can add the egg powder with your dry ingredients and the appropriate amount of water where you would add the egg.

Egg white substitute can also be added to shakes and smoothies as a source of protein and can be used as a substitute for any recipe that requires egg whites.

Powdered Egg Shelf Life

Unopened powered eggs can be stored for 5 to 10 years; however, once opened, you should use them up within a month.

Powdered egg whites have a shorter storage time of about 2 years, and should also be used within a month if opened.


What is Meringue Powder?

Meringue powder is made using powdered egg whites, but also contains other ingredients to keep it stabilized, such as cornstarch and cream of tartar.

How to Use Meringue Powder

Meringue powder is wonderful to use in frostings, royal icing, buttercreams and meringues. It can have a slight vanilla flavor, which tastes delicious in baked goods, and is a great substitute for raw egg whites in making meringue cookies and royal icing.

Since meringue powder does contain other ingredients besides egg whites, we don’t recommend using it as a replacement for eggs in your recipe. The other ingredients in the powder mix will affect the outcome of your recipe and you most likely will not get the same results.

How Long Does Meringue Powder Last?

Meringue powder has a shelf life of about 2 years, if stored correctly. Keep it away from moisture in a cool, dry environment, like the back of your cabinet.

Powdered Buttermilk

Just like powdered milk, powdered buttermilk is made up of the solids left over after heating and treating the liquid. The tanginess of buttermilk also appears in the powdered form and interacts with leavening agents in baked goods.

How to Use Powdered Buttermilk

Powdered buttermilk can be used in any of your baked goods that call for buttermilk. It can also be used to make buttermilk fried chicken, pancakes, biscuits and all kinds of tasty salad dressings!

Follow the package instructions for reconstituting your powered buttermilk and store it in an airtight container. If your powdered buttermilk is unopened, it can be kept at room temperature; however, once opened, it should be refrigerated to extend its life.

Powered Buttermilk Shelf Life

Unopened powered buttermilk has a shelf life of about 3 to 5 years; however, once opened, the shelf life decreases to about 1 year. Still plenty of time to use it for baking and cooking!

What are some of your favorite ways to use these shelf stable dairy ingredients? Let us know in the comments below!