Thursday, August 21, 2008

Milk in the freezer

I am up to my ears in goat milk. Just this morning, I noted that I have 1.5 gallons of milk in the freezer and 2 gallons in the fridge. And every day that I don't drink or use a bunch of it, it grows by a half gallon! There is a woman here at work who has expressed an interest in buying some of our milk. I'm thinking that I should take her up on it. I just don't know how much to charge!

In the meantime, I've been freezing extra milk in ziplock double zipper quart size freezer bags. I pour the strained milk into the bag, zip it up, lay it on a plate, and set it in the freezer. I use the plate so that the milk freezes relatively flat for storage purposes. I've also read that there are a couple of ways of canning milk for future use as well.

In order to best store raw goat's milk in it's original state, it is very important to bring the temperature to 40F (optimum storage temp) as soon as possible. "Grade A" storage means you've gotten the milk to 40F in less than 30 minutes. With household equipment, that's not really possible. "Grade B" would be doing it in less than 60 minutes. We were putting the freshly strained milk (in a quart ball jar) into the freezer for a bit and then moving it into the fridge. That only gets the milk to temp in about 90 minutes and that is only if you shake/stir it occasionally. Not good enough. Then I read that submerging the container in ice water is a good way of cooling it. It's faster, but again, you have to stir it and you have to attend it (keep adding ice) the entire time it is cooling. That'll get it there in about 45 minutes if you are attentive, but who has that kind of time? So, the next best thing is to use the ice bath method for a little while and then use the freezer. I've been doing this for the past couple of days. We'll see in the next week or so if that milk stays fresher longer or not. As it is, milk just put in the freezer for about 30 min to 1 hour and then into the fridge keeps for a little over a week. If this new method gets us to 2 weeks, I'd be very pleased. As it is, when raw milk goes 'bad', it doesn't really go sour. It gets a little off tasting and smelling, but it's still usable...particulalry for cooking. We dont' like the odd taste, so when we have milk that gets to that state, the dogs get a treat. They love it! We've had to throw very little milk away since we started. Most of it was in the form of 'bad' yogurt!

Anyway, this morning, I did the bath/freezer method. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to leave on time that I forgot to move the container from the freezer to the fridge before I left for work. This is the second time I've done it! Luckily, I've been using plastic lids on the jars instead of the metal ones (which will rust over time). The plastic lids will flex - so there is little to no danger that the jar will burst - the lid will just pop off like it did the first time. Sometimes I'm an idiot though. As I put the jar in the freezer, I even told myself 'don't forget it, this time'. Duh!

So I've been doing some research on the yogurt thing. First of all, I'm pretty sure that the last time I tried it, it would have been fine except for the addition of the powdered milk. I was fearful that the culture wasn't working right, but upon doing further reading, I'm thinking that it's probably fine and that I didn't use enough. Tonight I'm going to try it again, using the same culture, but using more of it. I also have some store bought yogurt that I'll try as well (using a different method). I will report back tomorrow morning if I have yogurt or not!

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