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Storing Goat Milk

Most folks store their milk in a plastic gallon jug in the refrigerator. When it's nearly empty, they go buy another. When you produce milk on the homestead, storage is very different, and presents a few challenges.

Using Mason jars to store goat milk.

I keep milk in glass jars to prevent any "off" taste passing from a plastic container. Glass is much easier to clean than plastic. An opaque container is best, but glass is clear by nature, so I just deal with that.

Two years ago I bought half a dozen half-gallon size canning jars to store milk in, then realized that they are too tall for my refrigerator shelves, so I went back to using quart-size jars. They don't hold as much, but they do fit better in the fridge.

That means I have several quart jars of milk from each day's milking. Keeping everything straight in the refrigerator can be tricky. My system is working pretty well for us now, so that we know which milk is the freshest when we reach for a jar.

When we had our first dairy goat, we bought plastic lids for the canning jars, which came in white only. Along the way, I've collected lids from mayonnaise jars, some brands of peanut butter jars, and other sources. Some brands fit the canning jars better than others, but you learn that as you go along. They come in several colors, and that is the secret to my system.

A collection of multi-colored Mason jar lids

Each day I use a different colored lid, for example, today might be green lids. Every jar of today's milk has a green lid. Tomorrow I might use red, then blue, then white, then start over again.

Metal canning lids work too, of course. I like the plastic ones because I have several different colors.

I move the milk jars to the left on the shelf each morning after milking. My family knows that the jars on the right are the freshest (or rather, they should know that. Sometimes I still am asked, "which jar am I supposed to use?") All of today's jars, with matching lids, are on the right side of the shelf, in a row. Yesterday's milk jars are in a row, just to the left of today's jars.

We have one refrigerator shelf dedicated to jars of milk. We use the freshest milk for drinking. Since we have an ever-renewing supply - except in the winter - we might as well drink the freshest, right? Day-old milk is used in cooking and cheesemaking. Excess milk is frozen for soapmaking or is given to the dogs and cats and, if we have one, the pig. My chickens aren't excited about milk or whey, but the dogs and cats go crazy over it.

Mason jar lids in dishwasher

The lids go in my dishwasher when the jars are empty. I put them in a mesh bag on the dishwasher's top shelf to be washed (net onion bags work too), and store the clean lids in a large jar until I need them again.

How do you store milk?


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