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Goat milk products

We used to have 2 milk nannies, and they kept us and our friends in milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice-cream.

Goats are intelligent creatures, which makes them hard to keep.  Fencing is a big concern, because a goat will figure out how to get through just about any fence.  We have tried many different methods, and a 5 strand electric fence seems to be the best.  They’ll touch it once or twice, but never again.

Goats are prolific grazers as well, although not just of grass.  They are browsers, which means they try a little of everything, but not much of any one thing.  If you are in shrub land or a deciduous forest, you are in goat heaven!  It is important to let them graze as much as possible to avoid problems like worms, parasites and overgrown hooves.  They are also much happier when they have plenty of room to move around.  We rotate our goat grazing so they don’t destroy the shrubs. On average a goat can graze about 1/8 acre in 1-2 months, depending on the quality of the land, without causing any long term damage.  They do need some sort of shelter, even just a simple a-frame, and milking areas are a must.  I like stalls or stanchions where each goat has a specific area for milking, and no one gets loose until everyone has been milked.

Goats can be great fun or a royal pain in the ass, depending on the situation and their mood.  If you have an orchard, you’ll want several lines of defense, a 6ft fence, electric barbed wire, dogs, armed guards, whatever you can find!  They’ll stop at nothing to get to food once they know where it is.

Milk

Goat’s milk is much richer than cow’s, and man is it good! When we make ice-cream, we do not use any additional cream, just milk. Goat cheese is also easy to make and is quite good.

One of our favorite summer treats is “licuado”. You take frozen bananas (or any other fruit) and milk, and put them in a blender. The result is a thick, cold, delicious milkshake-like piece of heaven.

 

Cream

Cream is very finely emulsified within goat’s milk, so it is hard to separate. One way to get around this (separators are expensive) is to make Devonshire cream.

  1. Put milk in heatproof pans for 12-24 hours, then warm slowly to 187ºF.
  2. When you see the surface start to crack and wrinkle, remove from heat.
  3. When cool, skim the crust off the surface.

 

Butter

If you allow the cream to ripen a little, the butter will be more flavorful and easier to churn. Do not let it ripen too much or the butter will be sour.

  1. Get the cream to about 60ºF.
  2. Churn (hand whisk works) for about 15 minutes until the cream feels heavy.
  3. Adding a couple of tablespoons of cow’s milk at this stage can make the process easier.
  4. After another 10 to 20 minutes of churning, the cream should separate into buttermilk and clumps of butter.
  5. Drain off the buttermilk (great for baking or milkshakes).
  6. Take the clumps of butter and beat them with a spoon until it’s all joined together.
  7. Add salt – ½ tsp per pound of butter (unsalted butter spoils faster).
  8. Wrap butter in wax paper and put it in the fridge.

 

Cream Cheese
  1. Combine 2 cups heavy cream with 2 tbsp buttermilk.
  2. Suspend mixture in cloth over a bowl for 24 hours.
  3. Season.

 

Hard Cheese

You need rennin to curdle milk. This is naturally present in the stomach of newborn kids, calves and lambs, but you can buy rennet, which contains rennin, from dairy suppliers and some pharmacies.

  1. Allow milk to stand for a few hours at room temperature.
  2. Mix in rennet (1/8 cheese rennet tablet/gallon milk), and leave mixture undisturbed at about 86ºF.
  3. Wait until the white curd can be separated cleanly from the sides of the pot.
  4. Cut curds.
  5. Mix curds gently with hands to break up large pieces. Continue for 10 – 15 minutes to allow time for curds to release whey.
  6. Heat curds for about an hour gently up to 102ºF. Stir frequently.
  7. Leave curds in hot whey until they separate after being held in your hand.
  8. Strain through cheese cloth.
  9. Add salt, a little at a time.
  10. Leave curds in cloth and squeeze it into one mass.
  11. Weight lightly for about 2 hours, then increase the weight for another 12 hours.
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