filter milk immediately through a sterile cloth
HANDLING OF FRESH RAW MILK
OR... CONTROLLING THE FUNKINESS OF YOUR CHEESE
chill filtered milk immediately in an ice bath
Immediately filter out 
hair and dander.
© David B. Fankhauser 
rvsd 31 Jan 99, 10 Mar 99, 23 Nov 99, 2 May 00, 2 Aug 00
This page has been accessed Counter times since 26 July 2000.
Quickly chill the fresh milk
in iced water.

        The most important consideration in good flavored milk and milk products is the proper handling of the milk from the time it is milked out to the time that it is consumed or made into cheese. It makes me wonder about commercially available goat's milk, which in my experience has a strong "goaty" flavor.  The goat's milk I produce only has had such flavor problems if the steps given below were not followed.  Many people who say they hate the taste of goat's milk are usually referring to 'store-bought' goat's milk, and find mine mild, sweet and rich.  Likewise, many commercial goat cheeses taste like they were cured in the billy pen...  NOT to my liking.
        Here are the critical factors I have discovered over a couple of decades of keeping goats and making cheese. All of these are aimed at keeping bacterial contamination as low as possible. Undesirable bacteria are what make milk products have an off flavor. The goal in cheese-making is to add beneficial bacteria which produces good flavor while avoiding the rest. Undesirable bacteria abound on goat hair and dander.  Removal of these is the goal of careful filtration.
        Never try to make cheese out of "turned" or spoiled milk--the unpleasant flavor will linger. Feed it to your pets if they will drink it. Otherwise, put it on the compost pile.  Note that repeated reference is made to complete drying of thoroughly cleansed equipment.  The reason is that most bacteria do not survive well on clean dry surfaces exposed to the air.

AVOIDING BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION IN YOUR MILK PRODUCTS

CLEANLINESS/STERILITY OF MILKING CANS AND STORAGE BOTTLES:

a)  Immediately after milking, rinse equipment in lukewarm water to remove the majority of milk.  If you let the equipment sit, the drying milk will glue itself in the cracks and crevices, and will be come a breeding ground for bacteria.
b)  You should carefully wash the rinsed milking cans in very hot soapy water, rinse well, and air dry COMPLETELY. (Do not dry with a towel, it is easy to introduce bacteria this way.) If you have no problems with odor or taste in your milk, actually sterilization of the cans may not be required.  But if you are having problems, your implements should be boiled and air dried.  I avoid chlorine because of its poisonousness, but in the worst cases, may have to be resorted to.
ESSENTIALS OF RECOMMENDED CLEANSING:
  1. wash implements well in very hot water and soap
  2. rinse thoroughly in very hot fresh water
  3. ensure that they are thoroughly air dried before using
If you must use chlorine for sterilization, use as little as possible, and avoid any trace in your milk.

HERE ARE THE STAGES OF MILK HANDLING:
I.  SETTING UP MILKING EQUIPMENT
II.  SETTING UP GOAT TO BE MILKED
III.  CLEANSING UDDERS
IV.  MILKING, FEEDING
V.  FILTERING, RECORDING
VI.  CHILLING
VII.  CLEANSING OF MILKING EQUIPMENT

I.  SETTING UP MILKING EQUIPMENT
Preparation for milking, assemble:
1)  Sterilize the washing cloth by boiling, then adding an equal volume of cool water to lower the temperature to a manageable level.  (I aim for 60ºC.  This is hot, but will cool as you wash the udder.)
2)  Very clean jug with sterile filtering cloth and lid.
3)  Very clean can into which to milk.

II.  SETTING UP GOAT TO BE MILKED

Secure the goat in a stanchion with goat feed to keep her happy
Note in the first picture (above) that the washing can is hung from the stanchion, and the milking can sits ready on a nearby (cleaned) surface. 

Here is the sterilized but still hot cloth being removed from its can .


III.  CLEANSING UDDERS
Wash the udder and teats thoroughly with the sterilized cloth.  Wring out the cloth, and damp dry the udder so that no drips remain. 

Washing with very warm water does two things.  a)  It cleanses the udder, removing surface dirt, dander and hair, and b) the warmth and massaging of the washing causes milk let-down, making milking much easier.


IV.  MILKING, FEEDING
Give the first squirt or two from each teat to the cats.   Do this because the milk ducts contain more bacteria near the opening, and you clear out these bacteria rather than add them to the kept milk. 
Place a "milking board" on the stanchion, and the can on the board.  This keeps the can from touching any surface that the goat may have walked on.  I use a piece of white formica, one foot square, for this purpose.  The can is placed on top of this "milk board."
HOW TO MILK: 
Pinch the top of the teat between your thumb and index finger , trapping milk in the teat. 

Then the other fingers squeeze the trapped milk out without releasing the pinch at the top.  Note the "milking board" under the can. 

Alternatively, if I am only milking one or two goats, I place the sterile handkerchief over the mouth of a wide mouth jar and milk directly into the suspended cloth.  This ensures that hair and dander are immediately removed from the milk, and removes any chance of contamination from the milking can.
When you get no more milk out easily, massage the gland inside the udder.  This will release additional milk.   Milking is done when no more milk can be coaxed from the udder, even with additional massaging.  Note that the teats appear completely deflated .

V.  FILTERING, RECORDING
[Optional:  Weigh the milk and record it .  This will help you monitor the health and productivity of your animals.]

The left image shows the gallon jug with sterile filter cloth and the freshly milked milk being weighed.  The right image shows a detail of my home made scale.

Here is an overview of my home made "appropriate technology" scale to weigh milk, made from a long spring and calibrated to read out on graph paper on which I record the weights of morning and evening milkings.  (Note that I am a data junky--many do not record these details.)

Filter freshly milked milk immediately through a sterile fine-weave cloth
Immediately upon milking, filter the warm milk through a fine weave sterile handkerchief (sterilized by previous boiling and complete drying) into a scrupulously clean dry jar, cleaned at least as well as the milking cans. (You may sterilize in boiling water if you are in doubt). Use wide-mouthed jars if possible since they are more easily cleansed. This filtering removes goat hair and dander which are very rich in bacteria.  These bacteria act on goat butterfat resulting in strong "goaty" flavor.  [If you pay careful attention to cleansing, boiling and thorough drying of all apparatus, and still have problems with short shelf life, strong goat flavor, etc, you might resort to such poisonous chemicals as chlorine or iodine to treat surfaces.]
Release the goat from the stanchion and return to the goat room.

Bring in the next goat, if there is one.

Sweep off the stanchion to remove loose dirt, followed by washing down and drying with a wrung out cloth. 
Do the same for the milking board, and the resting place of the milking can

Although these cleansed surfaces are not sterile, keeping them clean and dry dramatically reduces bacterial contamination which could transfer to the milking can.


VI.  CHILLING
Label the freshly milked and filtered milk with the date.
The importance of rapid and complete cooling to near freezing cannot be over-emphasized in retarding spoilage.  "Funkifying" bacteria HATE such cold conditions.  I reserve a second refrigerator (in my garage) to chill fresh milk. On the floor of this refrigerator, I have a large 2 gallon plastic bucket which contains as much near-freezing water as will partially float the milk jars. I keep blocks of ice floating in it so it's temperature remains at 0ºC (32ºF).  Each time a fresh jar of warm milk is placed in the chiller, a cup of water is removed, and another block of ice is added
Chilling in this water-ice bath is much more rapid than air chilling in a refrigerator.  Here the warm milk is being immersed in the ice water bath.
I freeze this ice in large strong plastic cups filled with clean water.  I get a good supply of these cups at Cincinnati Reds games, picking up the discarded heavy plastic cups after the game.

VII.  CLEANSING EQUIPMENT AFTER MILKING
Immediately after placing the milk in the chiller, rinse the can and filtering cloth well to remove most milk.  Wash the can and cloth in very hot soapy water, rinse well.  Air dry the can.  (Drying with a towel adds bacteria.)

The filtering cloth is boiled for a minute or two, and hung to dry in a clean location (out in the sun is perfect because of its antiseptic action.

Keep the milk chilled at 4ºC until ready for use.  Do not add warm milk to previously chilled milk.  It will encourage any bacteria in the older milk to grow.  However, once thoroughly chilled, milk from sequential milkings can be pooled.
Follow these steps and maintaining a temperature of no more than  4ºC in your refrigerator and your milk should keep easily for more than a week without pasteurization. If goat's milk is kept this long, cream can be skimmed off when making cheese. Freeze this cream immediately after skimming to produce delicious ice cream .

(If you don't follow these steps closely, you risk a number of bacterial contaminations including those of Salmonella, Escherichia coli and reportedly, Listeria.)


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