Well. I’m not sure how to say this but the goat’s milk I’ve been promising EVERY ONE I know that it ISN’T goaty…has been…well…goat-y! So goaty that my kids wouldn’t drink it. If you’re not sure what goaty is, I’ve heard it described as pungent and musky.
I know. I promised. I told wonderful stories of our first taste of goat’s milk and how much like cow’s milk it was. It was true. The whole time we had goat’s milk last year it was wonderful. Honestly. It’s still true. I swears.
So, I’m thinking, “What happened?!” Why are our goats giving goaty flavored milk?
Our two does gave birth at the end of March. We’ve been milking them consistently since then. At first I thought it was just one doe, Nina. Maybe Nina’s milk just wasn’t that great, ya know? There was this extra flavor to it. I wouldn’t even consider that it was goaty. I tasted the other goat’s milk. It was good. Then a few days later I tasted a funny taste in her milk.
At first I thought it was their hay. It’s a teff grass hay I almost got arrested trying to bring home from Quincy, WA. Ok, well, that’s not really true. I was pulled over and given several warnings. YIKES. It was right in front of the Costco gas station, too. So, when I finally made it over there to get gas I had to explain to a bunch of people who were watching why I got pulled over.
The officer pointed out that I didn’t have right mirrors. They are supposed to stick out farther when you have a wide load like I did. Also, apparently the registration for the truck is supposed to be for more weight. I can just make a phone call to the DOL and raise it to 10,000 lbs.
It was an awful experience. I don’t like driving much to begin with. I strapped that load on with every ratcheting strap we owned. I drove REALLY carefully and used the shoulder every time anyone came up behind me so that I didn’t slow anyone down. But I knew I could manage. I’m a big girl. And of course, my husband told me he could do it on the weekend but I insisted I was ok. And then I got pulled over. And, worst of all, the goats HATED the hay. I normally buy my hay locally but my supplier was all out.
Anyway, back to the milk. I was worried the milk wasn’t that good because of that blasted hay that the goats were barely eating. By the way, if anyone tells you goats will eat anything, they don’t know what they are talking about. Goats are the pickiest eaters I have ever come across.
I also did some more reading on proper milk handling. I found a great list to follow to keep your goat’s milk from having off flavors.
1. Don’t keep a buck close to your does-CHECK
2. Use seamless stainless steel equipment-CHECK
3. Follow proper sanitary procedures for milking-CHECK. I start by wiping my doe’s udder with a clean cloth and warm water that has a few drops of soap. Then I squirt a couple streams of milk from each teat into a separate container to check for mastitis. When I’m done milking I dip her teats in a 50/50 iodine solution and let them air dry.
4. Rinse all equipment with cold water and wash with hot-CHECK .
5. Filter as soon as possible-CHECK. I use a reusable coffee filter like this for my milk.
6. Store the milk in glass jars-CHECK.
7. Get it cold as fast as possible. I can’t completely check this one off. I do store it in quart jars which I think help it cool pretty fast. I could put it in the freezer for an hour before storing in the fridge. UPDATE: My new method is to use an ice bath to cool the milk. See this post for more info: Why I Pulled All Our Raw Milk and Started Over
8. Keep the milk between 35 and 38 degrees F. Ok, this one I cannot verify. I’m sure my regular fridge isn’t quite this cold. I have begun looking for a used mini-fridge to buy. My only thought was that when we had goat’s milk before I never had a special fridge and it was just fine. But, I will consider this option.
9. A couple of times a month you should clean your glass milk storage jars with 2 Tbsps of 3 % hydrogen peroxide. I haven’t tried this yet but I will.
Another option I thought was that maybe my milking equipment had some built up milkstone on it. Milkstone is a buildup of minerals and protein. It happens even when you use good stainless steel. I good method to keep it in check is to rinse all your stuff with cold water. I do this immediately after filtering the milk. But, just in case, I ordered a foaming acid detergent for rinsing my equipment once a week to see if that helps.
It’s also really important to keep your milking area clean. My husband made a great little milking stand last year and I began painting it but didn’t finish it in time. I was going to put on a coat of glossy white paint that would be easy to wipe down every day. So, since I’m deep into the milking schedule and don’t have time to let paint dry, I bought a little roll of carpet runner for around $5. It works great for the wall and the stand. It’s awesome. The goats don’t slip and I can wipe the whole area down.
So, guess what? Just this week (It’s April 22 and we’ve been milking the goats for about 3 weeks now) the milk is tasting normal again. And, not just normal but DELICIOUS. Just how we remembered it from our experience with goat’s milk last year. Even the kids said, “Yum! Can I have another glass?”
My conclusion is that it was being affected by the colostrum that does (and other animals) produce for their babies. I read here that it doesn’t taste good.
So, now I will go back to bragging up goat’s milk. YAY! I mean, seriously, it’s amazing. You gotta try it 🙂