I thought it would be appropriate to follow-up last week’s information about the goats themselves with some info on what you can do with goat milk. Especially since I have either consumed or produced four different home-made milk-based products in the past 24hrs. And I haven’t even had any fresh milk since March.
My buck and wether kids (so basically all of them except Victoria) were weaned between Christmas and New Year. This gave me a few months of milking with only one kid to feed, that being Ambika who is six weeks younger than the others and who was bought from another farm. Since I had loads of milk Ambika’s wether buddy, Thumper, got a few more weeks of milk feeds than he really needed.
From once-a-day milking I was bringing in 5 litres of milk each morning, way more than could be used in the house. Of that, the kids got quite a bit, but I was still able to put a 1.25lt bottle in the freezer most days. This is the milk that got me through winter.
Advocates of the Swiss dairy goat breeds scoff at the ‘off season’ that you get with Anglo Nubians. Their goats milk all year long, and sometimes refuse to dry up even towards the end of their pregnancies. Nubians are inclined to stop producing quite dramatically once they are in kid again. This gives Nubian breeders a few months break from the grind of milking. And lets our does, particularly those who have a habit of producing three or more kids at a time, an opportunity to replenish themselves and put nutrition into their pregnancies.
I was at first a bit miffed when Sienna, who had been milking like a trooper, started to drop her production at the start of April. Then I looked at the diary and realised she was about 8 weeks in-kid, so I kind of had to forgive her.
Even with that break, I rarely run out of milk. I don’t drink as much milk during winter as I do when there is plenty of fresh milk available, but I do make cheese, yogurt and soap. This week I also added kefir to my repertoire. Kefir is a fermented milk drink, high in tryptophan, and said to be great for improving mood and encouraging relaxation. Worth a try, I thought. There are claims that kefir can cure or prevent pretty much everything that can go wrong in the body, but I’ll be more than happy with digestive health and improved mood. We’ll see how it goes.
I make a batch of yogurt most weeks, and while it is somewhat less convenient than buying a tub of Jalna, it is quite a bit less expensive. I must admit that I cheat by sweetening and flavouring my yogurt, but a couple of tablespoons of sugar in 1lt of yogurt is a lot less than you’ll get in most yogurts you buy in the supermarket. I use real vanilla essence and the only other thing I add, apart from the milk, is the culture. I paid about $20 for the culture, but you only use a few grains for each batch, so each packet of culture can make over 100 tubs of yogurt. And it is real yogurt. No thickeners or preservatives. Just milk, culture, vanilla essence and a little bit of sugar. I can’t eat fake yogurt any more.
Some Saturday nights just lend themselves to making cheese. The freezing temperatures we are experiencing at the moment are not ideal for making anything that needs to stay warm over night, so tonight the cheese is wrapped in a towel near the heater in the bedroom. Cheese is another one of those things that take a bit of time and effort, but it is so worth it. From start to finish, chevre (soft goat milk cheese) takes about 16-18 hours to make. Heat the milk, keep it at about 60 degrees for half an hour, cool the milk, add cultures and leave it overnight. In the morning you cut the curds and hang them for most of the day. Once the curds have drained sufficiently you add the salt, remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and put it into a container. It develops it’s flavour over time, and is at it’s best between one and two weeks after being made. I really like it with sweet chilli sauce and crackers or corn chips. I also put it on pizza, use it in filled pastas (chevre and trout ravioli is one of my favourites), add herbs and serve with salmon and potato wedges, put it on sandwiches (it is great with ham), or crumble it into a salad.
I made mozzarella once, which went very well on home-made pizza. I want to try hard cheeses soon, but that will require some kind of cheese cave for maturing at 10 degrees for a month. I’m keeping an eye out for a cheap wine fridge.
I have dedicated a post to my soap making in the past, and after a production glut I have settled into making a batch here and there to share with family and friends. I freeze milk in ziplock bags so it is ready any time I want to whip up a batch.
They say that nothing is wasted from a goat, that you can use everything but the bleat. I don’t eat my goats, and subsequently I don’t make rugs from their hides. Maybe it is because I generally put quite a bit of effort into keeping kids alive in the beginning. I think it is more that they are not like sheep or cows who stand about in the paddock looking all meaty and don’t put much effort into being your friend. I will eat goat meat, I just don’t eat my goats.
So those are some of the many useful and yummy things you can make with goat milk. While I didn’t really get into goats for the milk, I am certainly glad for the bounty that comes from my four-legged friends.