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Goat Milk Pasteurization

I know there are a lot of people out there that like drinking raw goat milk. I am not one of those people. Maybe it’s the nurse in me, but I just can’t. As soon as I got dairy goats, I started figuring out what I needed to do to pasteurize my own milk. I always thought it would be a big complicated process, but it really is not.

Great milk starts with clean milk, and that starts at the time of milking. I got really good at milking my goats by hand quickly, but I always ended up with a little more hair floating around than I liked. That’s when I went to a milking pump. The first pump I had was a hand pump. It is an ingenious invention really. There’s a hand pump with a pressure gauge that attached to plastic tubing that is inserted into a canning jar flat and sealed with glue. Another plastic tube inserted in the same flat then went to a 60cc syringe that’s seated around the goat’s teat to form a seal. Attach the flat to a half gallon ball jar with the ring and that makes the system. I later went to an electric pump which made things much easier, especially for my husband when he had to help out.

First milking
The First Milking With the Hand Milker

I always make sure the stantion is clean and get my goats cozy with a nice serving of sweet feed while I work. I clean her underside with hand sanitizing wipes and let it dry while I get situated. I usually only have 2 maybe 3 goats in milk at any one time. I always have lids to cover my jars while I am working and always set them aside in a clean space. Since I only open the system to put on a lid between goats, there is really very little opportunity for dirt or hair to get into the milk. Once I am done milking, I bring the milk into the house and immediately strain it into another sanitized jar using cheese cloth, just to make sure there is nothing in the milk. I have a 3 gallon stainless steel pot that I fill about 1/3 full of lukewarm water that I set on my stove. I put the half gallon canning jar in that water and turn on the heat. I suspend a thermometer in the milk and then watch the temperature closely.

There’s a few ways to pasteurize milk, but only two of these ways are easy to do in a home kitchen. One method is to heat the milk to 145 degrees F for 30 min. Some people prefer this method if they are making cheeses because the lower heat doesn’t break down as many of the enzymes in the milk. The second method is to heat the milk to 161.6 degrees F for 15 seconds. The second method the method I use whether I am making cheese or not, because really, it’s all about time for me.

As soon as I hit the 162 degree F temp, I watch the clock, EVERY TIME. If you know me, you know that I don’t guess when it comes to processes. As soon as I hit my 15 sec mark I pull the milk out and set it on a towel. Now it’s time for cooling it. The faster I can get the milk cooled, the less the taste of the milk changes. If you have ever drunk warmed milk, you know the taste I am talking about. To cool the milk really fast, I have a couple of electric ice cream makers. I have them set up on my counter and ready to go. I will pull the frozen gel inserts out of the freezer and set them up while my milk is warming. I pour the hot milk into the inserts and start the machine. I suspend the thermometer once again in the milk. When the milk is at 34 degrees F. I pour the milk back into my cooled half gallon jars, put on the lids and date the milk. That’s it. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes, from walking out to the goats to milk them (10 min), to heating the milk (10 min) and cooling the milk (10 min).

Too Much Milk
Too much milk! This was 3 gallons in 3 days

Now that you know the process, I am going to talk about a few other things to consider. The plastic tubes on my milking machine are rinsed in bleach water then clear water after every use. I then hang them up where there are no dependent loops so all the water drains. If the tubes don’t look like they are drying quickly, for whatever reason, I rinse the inside with rubbing alcohol to decrease the drying time. I usually do this part of the clean-up while my milk is heating. I also make sure all the containers I use for milk are washed on sanitize in my dishwasher after every use, including the thermometer. And here is a big lesson, if you can’t pasteurize your milk right away, for example if you want to pasteurize your morning milk at the same time as your evening milk, make sure the water on your stove starts out cold. I am certain that this has to be where the phrase “Don’t cry over spilled milk” was started. If you put your cold jar of milk in water that is already heating, the jar WILL BREAK. I may or may not have done that a time… or two.