One thing that boils my butter is having to buy milk. It’s usually about a three month span in the winter that I give the girls a break, including about a month after kidding(having babies). Organic milk is outrageously expensive and does not taste nearly as good. I’m not much of a milk drinker(unless I have a rich chocolaty dessert), but I use it for pretty much everything else. My children love it and it makes me feel better knowing they are drinking fresh, raw milk from our farm.
Goat’s milk can be kind of finicky and if you aren’t careful, it can taste like a dirty goat. When I was a child, my dad had goats, Nubians to be exact. He never paid any attention to safe handling or cooling protocols. You can pretty much figure out how that tasted. My sister and I would have a race to see who could drink it down the fastest. Yes, we held our noses while we did it! Interestingly enough, we did not get sick. We were pretty healthy, happy gals!
We started raising goats about 11 years ago. My first taste of raw milk from my own goats was kind of scary. I had flashbacks and almost talked myself into holding my nose. I mean really, I thought I was going to gag! But, it tasted quite fresh and did not have a nasty aftertaste!
Here are some simple techniques we use to keep the milk tasting good. Mind you, there are times that regardless of what you do, it will taste goaty. Usually around breeding season(late in the summer and fall), the milk might have an off flavor.
Before you do anything, you need to clean the udder. There are a lot of udder cleaners out there, but I really don’t see the need to use these. We use antibacterial wipes, or paper towels dipped in slightly soapy water. Whatever you decide to use, wash the teats first, then the udder. Make sure the teats are dry before you start to milk. Of course, it goes without saying that your hands must be clean before you clean the udder.
2. Milk 8-10 squirts in a spare pail or bucket(or a patient dog’s or cat’s mouth).
Those first few squirts will flush away any bacteria that could be on the teat.
3. Milk in a Stainless Steel Pail.
Stainless steel, when washed properly, does not hold bacteria. This makes it a great choice for milk as it does not leach anything out. We wash ours with antibacterial soap and hot, hot water. Once you are done milking in the pail, cover it immediately.
4. Wipe Down Udder
Quickly wipe down the udder with clean wipes or an udder spray. I have had great success with Fight Bac. Just spray the teats after milking and it helps protect it from bacteria. A dirty udder or one that has the beginning stages of mastitis will cause the milk to taste terrible.
5. Immediately Strain the Milk.
I used to use the filters that are specifically used for this, but found that our goat’s milk was higher in butterfat, so it took forever to strain. Now I use white handkerchiefs or specific dish towels.
6. Chill the Milk Immediately.
It is very important that you strain it quickly and get it chilled quickly. Do to active enzymes rapidly expanding at room temperature, the milk can quickly have an off flavor. Some say to set it in the sink with ice and water, but, to be honest, I usually have dishes in the sink during this time(actually there is only about a few minutes in any given day that I do not have dishes in my sink!). So, I set it in the ice tray in the freezer. If I have a larger amount of milk, I will put it in the deep freezer in between frozen veggies. I may or may not have forgotten to take the milk out, so set a timer for 45-60 minutes, depending on how much milk you have!
7. Keep Bucks Separate from Does.
If you have ever been around a buck, even if it was just once during your childhood, you would remember why not to keep them together. The smell has created lasting memories for me!
8. Watch Their Diet.
Sometimes goats will eat something that will give their milk an off flavor. Most of the time, this is out of our control. But, we definitely do not want to give them kitchen scraps of onions, broccoli, etc. If you are using garlic for whatever reason, make sure you wait a few days until you keep the milk for yourselves.
9. Do Not Milk in a Stinky Barn.
Most of us do not have a choice but to milk in the barn. Our barn is pretty drafty with big garage doors that are kept open during warmer weather. About this time of year(almost spring), it can get a little smelly. Everyone has been cooped up and it’s not time to put them out on pasture. We keep our milk stand right by the big door. That way the fresh air blows in right by the stanchion. When the weather is nice, we love to milk outside in the fresh air! Just remember that barn odor does affect milk taste.
10. Store in Glass Containers.
Follow these steps and make them a habit. In no time you will be able to drink the milk without holding your nose!