A Comparison of Fresh and Powdered Milk
Both fresh and powdered milk are available in several different varieties, the major differences being their calorie and fat content. For fresh milk, the most common such varieties are skim milk, which means all fat has been removed; one percent milk; two percent milk; and whole milk, which means all the original fat has been left in the milk. For powdered milk, the most common varieties are powdered whole milk and powdered skim milk, although others are also available in some cases.
The different varieties of both fresh and powdered milk available means that the nutritional differences between the two types -- all else being equal -- are negligible. You will face similar nutritional considerations with both types of milk; the different varieties of each that are available will allow you to choose a variety of either type that is optimal for your unique dietary needs. Both types will contain roughly 156 calories and 9 grams of fat in one cup of liquid, full-fat milk.
However, there is one significant difference -- if you wish, you can adjust the amount of powder relative to the amount of water you use to reconstitute powdered milk. Using less powder and the more water means the reconstituted milk will be less nutritionally dense, but also lower in calories and fat. Some look at the nutritional content on a box of powdered milk and immediately assume it is much higher in calories, fat and other components than ordinary milk, forgetting that they must factor in the water added to powered milk to reconstitute it for the comparison to be equivalent.
Powdered Milk's Advantages
The biggest advantage powdered milk possesses over fresh milk is its lack of perishability; unlike fresh milk, powdered milk has no need of refrigeration. For that reason, along with its high nutritional value, powdered milk is a popular choice for disaster relief and aid operations. Of course, powdered milk is not completely a "go-anywhere" source of nutrition, since a source of clean, uncontaminated water is also necessary in order to reconstitute the milk.
In addition, powdered milk tends to be significantly less expensive than fresh milk. Fresh milk costs roughly $3 per gallon in most areas, while reconstituted powdered milk generally costs only about $1 per gallon. Of course, the exact prices of both products can vary widely depending on the geographic area in which they are purchased.
Fresh Milk's Advantages
On the other hand, the biggest advantage fresh milk possesses over powdered is its taste. Many people feel that powdered milk simply does not have the same quality of flavor after it is reconstituted that fresh milk has. This is partially, but not entirely, due to the fact that it can sometimes be challenging to blend the dry milk powder with the water smoothly enough that the consistency matches that of fresh milk. Regardless of which variety you choose, however, both fresh and powdered milk can be a valuable source of protein, calcium and many other nutrients in your diet.