Handling and Processing Raw Goat Milk
Milk, especially raw milk, is highly perishable and extremely delicate. Whenever you are handling, processing or cooking goats milk, it is highly recommended that all your supplies be of stainless steel. It is not a hard requirement, but it will greatly simplify clean-up and make sanitation much simpler.
Because this site is dedicated to those who only keep at most a handful of goats, it is assumed you will hand-milk the goats. There are other resources available for those who want to produce on a larger scale and use automated machinery.
Milk Processing Equipment
After trying various scenarios, the combination that seems to work well and costs the least includes the following:
- A 4 quart stainless steel pail. If you milk 2-3 goats, that should be sufficient capacity. You can purchase the hooded-types, but those are expensive and you'll want to be committed that you'll be milking goats hundreds of times per year for the foreseeable future.
- Stainless steel strainer with filter insert. This is a necessity. Ideally, use disposable milk strainer filters that you can buy on line. However, in a pinch, you can use a good quality paper towel or even a coffee filter. The key is to properly dispose of the filters immediately upon completion of the filter task. They can quickly accumulate an unpleasant odor in your kitchen trash receptacle.
How to filter and cool goat milk
This video walk you through the steps for handling your fresh, raw milk.
Raw Milk Processing Rules
- Don't let milk sit around after milking, get it inside and processed ASAP.
- Get the milk's temperature down to 38 degrees within an hour after leaving the goat. The milk can either be cooled in a glass jar that can be covered with an optional plastic lid or in bags. It's not necessary to cover the milk, but it makes things easier.
- When putting milk into jars, it's not a bad idea to leave an air pocket in case you forget the milk in the freezer and the milk freezes. A glass jar filled with no air pocket will likely burst if it freezes.
- Most home refrigerators aren't cold enough to cool the milk quickly enough, so put the milk in the freezer for one hour or you can cool batches larger than a quart of immersing them and turning them occasionally in ice water.
- Don't mix different milks together - period. You can combine milk from multiple goats into a single bucket when you initially milk, but that's it for combination options. Never add fresh warm milk to cold milk.
- If you are accumulating milk for cheese making, develop a system for tracking it. We used a simple tape lable maker and recorded the date and placed the label on each jar lid.
- If you store milk in jars, never leave them in the sun or fluorescent light, as this will change the flavor.
- Always keep milk cold. Never leave it sitting out.
- Obviously the sooner you consume your milk, the fresher it will be and taste.
- Goats' milk processed this way is typically best when consumed no more than 10 days past the date of milking. As it ages, you may notice the milk may begin to obtain a bit of a "goaty" flavor. This flavor will transfer if you decide to use the milk for cheese making, so be sure you like the taste before using the milk.
- In general, for making cheeses and dulce de leche, milk kept for no more than 4 days seems to produce the best product.
- Yogurts and chevres taste best if produced within the same day or two.