Goat milk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk and may be more inexpensive to produce and consume on your homestead.
However, goat milk is highly perishable and must be milked and stored with care to guarantee maximum longevity.
Fresh goat milk can last, on average, 3-7 days in the fridge. Pasteurizing and freezing are viable options to extend its life up to 6 months. Goat milk should never be kept outside a cooler for any length of time over 2 hours.
Although goats generally offer less milk yield than their cow counterparts, you may need to collect and store raw milk for longer durations.
The following practices will help extend the life of your fresh goat milk.
Keeping Goat Milk Clean Will Help It Last Longer
Taking great care during the milking process to ensure cleanliness is your first step in ensuring the raw goat milk will stay fresh the longest.
Wash your hands before milking and ensure your storage containers are cleaned and sanitized in advance.
Stainless steel is recommended, as it is very easy to sanitize.
You’ll want to inspect the udder and ensure no visible signs of infection are present.
Wash the udders with soap such as Castile soap, which is both gentle and effective.
We recommended taking along an additional container for the first squeeze of milk.
This allows you to inspect the milk for discoloration, clots, blood, or anything else contaminating your raw goat milk.
This is especially important if you are milking multiple goats.
Once these steps are complete and everything appears copacetic, begin milking.
We recommend using a stainless steel milking pail.
Keep the pail in your freezer before milking so that once you start milking, the collected milk rapidly cools.
This gives you a great head start in cooling the raw goat milk to its optimal storage temperature, thus maximizing the milk’s shelf life.
Once you’re done milking, take the liquid from milking buckets and strain the milk through a disposable milk filter or stainless steel strainer to remove any clumps of hair, dirt, bugs, or other contaminants finding their way into the pail.
You’ll want to get the milk’s temperature down to 35-38° degrees Fahrenheit (3° C) within approximately 1 hour.
We recommend portioning the yield into glass jars with tight lids to encourage faster cooling, preserve the freshness, and make it more manageable later.
Pasteurize The Goat Milk For Even Longer Preservation
If your goat is healthy, you are welcome to enjoy the milk at this juncture.
Raw goat milk is creamier, more flavorful, and contains more beneficial bacteria than its pasteurized counterpart.
Pasteurization, however, provides numerous benefits, such as improved shelf life, removal of potentially harmful bacteria, and reduced intensity of flavor and smell of the milk.
Pasteurization renders the flavor and odor of the milk more subtle, which some cite as a benefit given the potential pungency of raw goat milk.
Others prefer it ripe and drink it raw for this reason.
To pasteurize or not to pasteurize is the question, and it is ultimately your choice.
The easiest method of pasteurizing is to purchase an electric pasteurization machine.
Most simply involve:
- Pouring the strained milk into the machine.
- Pushing a button.
- Waiting for the timer to go off.
While this is extremely convenient, electric pasteurizers are expensive and often less feasible.
The most popular method, therefore, is the stovetop method.
All you need is a pot, a spoon, and a thermometer.
Fill a pot with the strained milk and turn on the heat.
We recommend not going above medium, as the milk can burn to the bottom of the pot on high heat and ruin the flavor of the whole batch.
Stir intermittently to prevent burning as it heats.
LTLT Vs. HTST Pasteurization
At this stage, there are 2 pasteurization methods you might use: LTLT and HTST.
LTLT, which stands for “low temperature, long time” and is sometimes referred to as “batch pasteurization,” calls for bringing the milk to 145° degrees Fahrenheit (63° C) for approximately 30 minutes.
This pasteurization process alters the chemical structure of the milk less, and the corresponding flavor and odor profile remain intact.
The big downside here is how you will have to hold this temperature for an extended duration, so you won’t be able to go too far for 30 minutes.
HTST, which stands for “high temperature, short time” and is sometimes referred to as “flash pasteurization,” significantly reduces the time needed by requiring you to hold a temperature of 160° degrees Fahrenheit (71° C) for no less than 15 seconds with hot water.
The flavor and odor will be reduced in intensity, but many cite this as a benefit as it renders the goat milk more like the traditional cow milk.
Once pasteurization is complete, portion into clean, disinfected glass containers (jars or bottles) and cool immediately.
Keeping milk in glass jars is ideal, as it cools evenly and stays better for longer.
We recommend having a container of ice-cold water-filled and submerging the glass receptacles for 15 minutes before storage.
Pasteurization sounds very technical but may be achieved with ordinary kitchen items and prolongs the shelf life of the pasteurized goat milk.
How To Properly Store Goat Milk
The ideal temperature for storing goat milk is 35-38° degrees Fahrenheit (3° C).
This is colder than a normal refrigerator, so many dairy farmers will use a dedicated milk fridge to avoid the milk spoiling faster.
If you have a mini-fridge, this is a great option for keeping your pasteurized milk and other fresh foods that do better at the cooler temperature.
Freezing is a popular option, as frozen goat milk can remain fresh for up to 6 months.
Be sure to leave an air pocket when using glass storage containers, as liquids expand when frozen, and your glass will shatter if it’s been filled to the brim.
You may also place the glasses inside plastic bags as an extra caution, so you’ll have an easier time cleaning up if there’s an accident.
Don’t forget to write the date somewhere, so you know how old it is!
Even if you do forget, sour goat milk smells powerfully pungent, so you will likely know without a doubt once it has turned.
Never thaw the milk at room temperature.
Warm milk is fine off the bat, but you don’t want to rush it once it’s been frozen.
Instead, place frozen goat milk in the refrigerator and let it thaw over approximately 2 or 3 days before use.
This ensures no growth of harmful bacteria and extends the usable life of the milk.
Paying attention to how you store, freeze, and thaw your goat milk will ensure you have fresh milk after milking for the longest possible time.
Adding goat milk to your daily diet is a great way to get more nutrients from this unique but excellent source of protein and calcium.
How Can You Tell If Goat Milk Is Bad?
Like cow’s milk, it’s easy to tell when goat milk has gone bad.
The taste is extremely bitter, and they may even have clumps of spoilage.
For another, there is a rotten smell when you sniff the milk itself.
If you’re unsure and the milk has been around for a week (when unpasteurized), consider it bad and save your stomach.
If you want milk, check out our article on how long goats produce milk and how we can help them make more.
How Long Can Raw Goat’s Milk Sit Out?
Bacteria and food-borne pathogens love milk for its nutrients and sugars.
Leaving it out and unrefrigerated for more than two hours will result in spoiled milk.
Always keep it cooled for the safest and most delicious goat milk.
This applies to both raw goat milk and pasteurized goat milk.
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