My family is working on a long-term food storage plan, and we’re hoping to include everything we need to make our favorite recipes. Butter keeps well in the freezer, but if power is out, it’s nice to have a backup plan to keep your family eating comfortably. I bought a can of butter powder and I’ve been learning to how to adapt my recipes to use butter powder instead of perishable butter.
What is Butter Powder?
So what on earth is butter powder anyway? Dehydrated butter isn’t strictly possible, as butter isn’t water-based. How do you turn an oil into a powder to make powdered butter?
Regular butter is roughly 80% fat, 1-2% milk solids and the rest is water. The first step is to remove as much water as possible. That’s easy to do industrially, but can be tricky to manage at home.
After that, you have butterfat and milk solids, which still isn’t a powder. If you remove the milk solids, you get an oily spread known as ghee.
That butterfat will keep on the shelf for an extended period of time, but it doesn’t taste like butter. It tastes like a clean and simple cooking oil.
To preserve the butter flavor in butter powder, they do the opposite. Instead of removing milk solids, they add back in powdered milk. It takes quite a bit of powdered milk to turn butterfat into a free-flowing powder, but eventually, the butterfat takes on a dry, powdery texture.
How to Reconstitute Powdered Butter
Instructions vary based on the brand of butter. My tub of powdered butter from Augason Farms says to use 3 Tablespoons of water to 1 cup of butter powder for a firm, moldable butter. For a soft butter, use 6 tablespoons per cup of powdered butter.
I found that 3 Tbls was plenty to turn the butter into what looked like whipped buttercream frosting. Soft and spreadable, but not runny.
Since butter powder isn’t quite butter, it’s not really recommended that you reconstitute it before using it in baking. Ideally, you’d add butter powder directly into the dry ingredients in your recipe, and just add an extra 3 Tablespoons of water for every cup of butter powder.
Other brands of butter powder have different reconstitution rates, and some say to use equal parts water and butter powder. Reading other people’s reviews, this results in a very runny liquid butter, and I’d suggest starting more conservatively and only adding small amounts of water until you find the right consistency.
What Does Butter Powder Taste Like?
So it’s not quite butter, and once rehydrated butter powder has the texture of whipped butter and tastes like butter with a bit of milk in it. That extra milky flavor means that it doesn’t taste quite right slathered on toast, but it works perfectly in baking, especially in recipes that call for both butter and milk.
Since it’s not pure butter, the nutrition facts are a bit different too. A tablespoon of regular butter has 100 calories in it, but reconstituted butter powder only has 35 calories. That’s because of all the milk solids.
Butter powder behaves a bit differently in cooking. It won’t melt like regular butter, and if you put a blob of it on a pan, it’ll scorch into a tiny cooked blob before it even thinks about melting. If you want to grease a pan, stick with vegetable oils and save butter powder for adding richness and butter flavor to just add water baking mixes.
How to Use Butter Powder
It’s best to treat powdered butter as just another dry ingredient in baking mixes, rather than trying to whip it separately into butter and then add it to your cooking.
When I was a kid, my parents would buy these bottles of add water, shake and pour pancake mix for camping. She was always nervous about letting us kids make it, even though it seems like the perfect kid thing to make because they were so expensive to buy. She was afraid we’d drop it, and there’d be money wasted and no breakfast.
I’m experimenting with making my own just add water pancake mix using butter powder, milk powder, egg powder and buttermilk powder to replace the wet ingredients. Here’s my starter recipe, that I’ll be tweaking in the coming months as we camp and use it regularly. To use this mix, use 1 cup of mix to 1/2 cup water:
- 2 cups Flour
- 1/2 cup Milk Powder
- 1/3 cup Malted Milk Powder
- 1/3 cup Powdered Buttermilk
- 1/4 cup Whole Egg Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
The can of powdered butter comes with a few recipes printed on the back, but I’ve got to say I’m not inspired. There’s a recipe for apple crumb cake that uses dried egg powder and dehydrated apple slices, but instead of butter powder in the cake, it adds shortening. The butter powder is only used to make a crumb topping. If you’re going to put a recipe on the butter powder can, the least you can do is put butter powder in the cake!
The other recipe is for a simple honey butter, using honey powder and butter powder. It’s nice that it’s a just add water dry mix, and I’m sure the honey powder goes a long way to disguise the strange milky flavor in the powdered butter, but I’d still rather just bake with it.
Amazon reviews have a lot of helpful advice. One reviewer suggests making a number of different spreads, all starting with a butter powder base:
“It is best reconstituted with light vegetable oil, then chilled, to make a firm spread, like butter. Mix with water and a little vinegar, then chill, to make a sour cream substitute. Adding vinegar, water and spices produces a passable mayonnaise. The powder can be mixed straight into dough, noodles or mashed potatoes. For a treat, use it straight in tea or coffee; it’s tasty and comforting. It doesn’t do well sprinkled straight on popcorn. I would mix some of the oil/butter mix straight into the hot popcorn…No, it’s not butter. But it’s tasty and useful.”
How Long Does Butter Powder Last?
Most sources say that butter powder lasts 5 years in an unopened can. My can from Augason Farms says, “Product good for up to 10 years when unopened. Best when stored in a cool, dry and dark place at temperatures between 55F and 70F. Actual shelf life may vary based on individual storage conditions.”
Once opened, it’s tough to say how long powdered butter will last. I can’t find any recommendations from manufacturers, and I’m sure it’ll vary based on the temperature and humidity in your home, and whether or not it’s ever contaminated with a dirty spoon.
I’ve seen recommendations for powdered peanut butter that say it’s best within 6 months of opening, and I’d imagine that is about right for powdered butter. We’ll see now that I’ve opened this can.