How to Store Raw Goat Milk


Using Mason jars 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. 


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, they are herd animals and need companions of their own kind), that can add up to a lot of milk!


Storing it all can present a challenge.


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 these is the list of 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. In other words, after you are finished milking, take the bucket 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.


Experiment to find what works best for you. I start by putting the sterilized quart-size Mason jars in the refrigerator before I go outside to milk.


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.


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 set up the jars, the strainer/funnel and the filter discs that go inside the strainer.


Next I pour the milk through the strainer into the cold glass jars, which are then topped with lids and put into the freezer for 30 minutes, then moved into the refrigerator.


Store goat milk in glass containers


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


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


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.


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


2 quart jars of goat milk



How long raw goat milk lasts in the refrigerator


Raw goat milk can last three-to-five days in a refrigerator. However, the flavor does change over time, and because we'll have more fresh goat milk the next 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. 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 might think it's wasteful to only drink that day's fresh milk, but we do this because we have an excess of fresh goat milk every day. 


Which 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.


I've collected plastic lids for Mason (canning) jars. I started with white lids from the hardware store, on which the date can be written with a dry-erase marker. 


My collection also 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. 


I use lids of the same color each day. Today might be blue lids, tomorrow might be orange, and the next day might be white. This tells us which jars are from the same day's milking.


Each morning I put the freshest jars of milk on the right end of the shelf, moving the older jars to the left. Even my children can remember to use the jar that is on the right side of the shelf. (Well, most of the time they remember.)



Mason jar lids in dishwasher


Keep everything clean


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, hung to dry in the sunshine, then machine washed in a dedicated load.


I put the lids in a mesh laundry bag on the top rack of the dishwasher, then store them in a large jar until I use them again.


How to freeze raw 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. 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 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 to remix. 


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.


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 more 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.


I've written a series on making soap with goat milk. You'll find all the posts here.



Looking for more goat keeping information? You'll find everything you want to know about dairy goats here. 



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