Yogurt is a staple in my house. It is used in soft cookies which I love to make on the weekends. For dinner, I marinate it with hot sauce and season the chicken until the meat is completely tender and the skin cracks under the heat of the oven (a move inspired by Samin Nosrat). It’s apparently an essential ingredient in ranch dressing, is an objectively perfect condiment, and makes muffins delightfully moist.

However, many cooks I know don’t care about yogurt. You usually only need a small amount for a cake recipe, for example, and if you don’t make cookies regularly, you’ll likely end up throwing the rest of the container out. Sure, there are lots of uses for leftover yogurt, but they all require extra planning and time. It’s also easy to add a little acid, usually vinegar or lemon juice, to regular milk to mimic the ingredient in a recipe. But the taste isn’t exactly the same – real dairy has its own flavour, and this trick it always tastes too bitter for my own taste.

Enter SACO Pantry Powdered Buttermilk, which stays on the shelf forever. For those times when I’m craving cookies and don’t feel like going to the grocery store, the can in my pantry is there to save the day. The brand is one of many on the market, including a great (if pricier) option from King Arthur Flour. SACO powder is very similar to regular dry milk, and when added to a cup of water, produces a liquid that is very similar to the fresh material in appearance, smell and performance. It works well in ranch dressing, but it really excels in baking, producing the perfect soft crumb in my banana bread every time. As a bonus, one packet of powdered yogurt is equivalent to nearly four quarts of liquid yogurt, making it an economical option in this age of ridiculous grocery prices.

But the real opportunity for yogurt powder is experimentation. You can add a spoonful to almost anything, from dairy-based sauces to patties and pickles, for a little extra flavor. I was blown away by this trick for making fresh cream at home using a little powdered milk and heavy cream. Now, I can get fresh cream on demand without having to leave my house.

And of course, I still prefer the taste and texture of fresh yogurt. I try to keep it in my refrigerator, but for those moments when I fail to grab a carton from the grocery store, the powdered version is the rare alternative that doesn’t end up tasting short.

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