Thursday, February 09, 2006

Everything Old is New Again: Powdered Milk

Powdered Milk in 13th-Century Asia
[The Tartar armies] make provisions also of milk, thickened or dried to the state of a hard paste, which they prepare in the following manner. They boil the milk, and skimming off the rich or creamy part as it rises to the top, put it into a separate vessel as butter; for so long as that remains in the milk, it will not become hard. The milk is then exposed to the sun as it dries. [When it is to be used] some is put into a bottle with as much water as is thought necessary. By their motion in riding, the contents are violently shaken, and a thin porridge is produced, upon which they make their dinner. — Marco Polo, Travels
Here I thought that powdered milk was one of those inventions from the 1950s or 1960s, like instant mashed potatoes. I don't keep powdered milk around but powdered buttermilk is very handy for those times when all your buttermilk has turned bad and you're depending on baking some Skillet Cornbread to round out the meal.

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