How to Store Farm Fresh Goat Milk

Using Mason jars to store goat milk.

Goat milk is a nutritious and delicious alternative to cow's milk. Goats require less space and are easier to raise and to handle than cows. 

But goats' milk is a bit trickier to store than cow's milk, since it has a shorter shelf life. 

Whether you raise goats or buy fresh goat milk from a local farmer, storing it properly will help keep it fresh and tasty. You'll find tips and tricks on how to store goat milk so you can enjoy it at its best.

How to store goat milk

Most folks store milk in a plastic gallon jug in the refrigerator. When it's nearly empty, they go buy another gallon.

When you produce milk on the homestead, milk storage is very different. 

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Goats, like all other mammals, must give birth in order to produce milk. Dairy goats are then milked regularly, either twice a day or once per day, every day, throughout the period of their lactation. 

Even if you only have one goat (but I recommend you have at least two, because they are herd animals and need companions of their own kind), that can add up to a lot of milk!

Storing all that farm fresh goat milk can present a challenge. Goat milk has a shorter shelf life than cow's milk, and how you store goat milk can affect its taste too.

How you handle goat milk affects the taste

The taste of goat milk depends on several factors, including how fast you chill the milk after milking and how you store it. You can read about how to get the most delicious-tasting milk here.

And if you're new to dairy goats, here is a list of the six items you must have to milk a goat. You may want a few more items, but this list contains your most basic needs.

As soon as you finish milking...

In order to have the best-tasting goat milk, you'll need to chill the milk as quickly as possible. 

As soon as you finish milking your goats, take the bucket of milk into the house immediately and begin the filtering and chilling process.

It really helps to have an extra person on hand to get this process started while you finish letting the goats out for the morning - or the other person can let the goats out while you take the milk into the house.

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to share my gardening tips with you too - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

Chill fresh goat milk as quickly as possible

I start this process of chilling the milk before I even milk the goats, by putting empty sterilized quart-size Mason jars in the refrigerator before I go outside to the barn.

NOTE: milk cools more quickly in small jars, so even if you want to store your goat milk in half-gallon jars, consider chilling it in quart or even pint jars. 

Glass jars such as canning jars are ideal for storing farm fresh goat milk. Plastic containers tend to hold odors and are harder to keep clean.

When I bring the milk into the house after milking, I set the entire bucket of fresh goat milk in a sink of ice water while I get the jars out of the refrigerator and prepare to strain the milk.

Straining fresh goat milk is important

As careful as we are, it's hard to prevent the occasional hair or fleck of hay falling in the milk bucket. Straining the milk is the quickest and most effective way to remove foreign objects from the milk quickly.

Use a milk strainer and filter discs to catch the smallest particles that might be in the milk.

Set the strainer inside the cold glass jars and pour the milk slowly into the strainer. Top the jars with lids and put them into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Store goat milk in glass jars

Glass is the ideal container for storing milk in the refrigerator. Plastic holds odors which are transferred to the milk and affect the taste.

After 30 minutes in the freezer, the jars are moved to the coldest shelf of the refrigerator. I set a timer, by the way, so I don't forget that the milk needs to be moved. Glass jars tend to break when the liquid inside freezes.

You can store farm fresh goat milk in any size jars, but as mentioned before, the milk will cool more quickly in small jars. That doesn't mean you need to store it in small jars though. You can transfer it into larger jars if you wish.

Half-gallon Mason jars don't fit on my refrigerator shelves, so I use quart-size Mason jars with plastic lids to store our goats' milk. 

In most home refrigerators, the coldest shelf is on the bottom, because cold air sinks and warm air rises.

2 quart jars of goat milk

How long does goat milk last in the refrigerator

Farm fresh, raw goat milk can last from three to five days in a refrigerator. 

However, the flavor does change over time. So, because we'll have more fresh goat milk tomorrow morning, my family drinks today's milk every day.

In other words, today we will drink this morning's milk, and tomorrow we will drink tomorrow morning's milk. 

The day-old milk is used for cooking and cheese-making, and milk more than two days old is either fed to the dogs, cats and the pig if we have one, or is frozen to make goat milk soap later. (Keep reading for directions on how to freeze goat milk.)

Some people might think it's wasteful to only drink that day's fresh milk, but we have such an excess of fresh goat milk every day that we don't feel it's wasteful at all! 

It's one of the benefits of having our own dairy goats.

Which jar of milk is the freshest?

"What jar am I supposed to use?" is a question I hear often from my family. 

With the bottom shelf of the refrigerator dedicated to quart jars of milk, how do they know which is the freshest?

A collection of multi-colored Mason jar lids

Well, I have a system, although they still ask me every time they open the refrigerator door.

I've collected plastic lids for Mason (canning) jars for a long time. 

My collection includes several sets of these plastic lids for canning jars from Amazon that come in eight colors, for both wide mouth and regular mouth jars, plus a set of white Mason jar lids from the local hardware store, and various lids from mayonnaise and peanut butter jars.

I use lids of the same color each day. Today's jars might have blue lids, tomorrow's jars might be topped with orange lids, and the next day I might use white lids. 

This tells us which jars are from the same day's milking. The color changes daily, but all the jars with the same color lids were all filled on the same day.

Each morning I remove the oldest jars, and move all of the jars to the left. Then I put today's jars on the right side of the shelf. 

Even my children can remember to use the jar that's on the right side of the shelf. (Well, most of the time they remember.)

Mason jar lids in dishwasher

Keep everything clean to keep your goat milk tasting its best

Keep everything clean, clean, clean. This is the #1 secret to good-tasting goat milk.

The milk bucket, the strainer, the jars - all the way down to the cloths I use to clean the goats' udders - everything is treated with the utmost care and cleanliness.

Everything is hand washed first, immediately after use, then go into the dishwasher. 

The cloths are hand washed and hung to dry in the sunshine. They aren't clean enough to reuse yet though. They are put in a bowl and then machine-washed in a dedicated load. Hand-washing them first washes the milk out of the cloths, and keeps it from spoiling and smelling before I have a load to wash in the machine.

I put the jar lids in a mesh laundry bag on the top rack of the dishwasher. When they're clean I store them in a large jar until I use them again.

How to freeze goat milk

Can you freeze raw goat milk for drinking later? Yes, you can. Instead of storing the milk in the refrigerator in a jar, put it right into the freezer after straining.

Use freezer bags with a zipper top, and write the date on the bag. Pour the goat milk into the bag, leaving enough space for the milk to expand as it freezes. Lay the bag flat in the freezer. 

The bags will freeze in a flat shape so they can be stacked on top of each other in the freezer, or placed upright next to each other in a box on a freezer shelf like books on a bookshelf. They'll take up less space this way.

I've found that the best way to achieve a flat shape is to fill the bags about half full. This flat, "pancake" shape will stack the best.

You can store fresh-frozen raw goat milk up to two months.

3 bags of frozen goat milk in a stack

How to thaw frozen goat milk

To thaw frozen goat milk, set the frozen bag in a bowl in the refrigerator and allow to thaw completely. This can take up to a day or more. (Be sure to put it in a bowl or other container. I've discovered that the bags will often develop a leak!)

The milk usually separates as it freezes and thaws, so shake the bag well after thawing, or pour the milk into a jar and shake vigorously to mix it all back up again. 

Flakes or clumps of milk are normal after freezing and thawing. Use a whisk to break up the clump or flakes and mix them back into the milk. 

Store thawed goat milk in the refrigerator. It should be good for three or four days after thawing.

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

How to freeze goat milk for soapmaking

I freeze surplus milk that is over two days old to use in soap making. We don't use this milk for drinking. 

The method is the same, using freezer bags and freezing the bags flat. Write the date on the bag and use the bags with the oldest dates first.

If you're freezing both fresh milk for drinking as well as older milk, write on the bag whether it's fresh or if it's for soap making.

The difference in freezing milk for making soap is in the thawing process - goat milk soap is made with frozen milk so you don't need to thaw it - in fact, you shouldn't. 

Break the frozen milk into chunks by wrapping the bag in a towel and smacking it with a hammer, then weigh several chunks and add or subtract chunks until you get the proper weight for your soap recipe.

A bag of frozen goat milk broken into chunks for soap making.

OR freeze the goat milk in ice cube trays instead. When frozen, remove the cubes of milk from the trays and add to gallon-size freezer bags, then return to the freezer until needed.

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Jars of goat milk on a blue background


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