Freezing goat milk is great way to preserve your excess goat milk so you have it available to drink or use when your goats are not in milk.
As most goat owners know, goats only produce milk a few months out of the year.
If you are really lucky, and have a goat that is a really good milker, you may be able to get milk for up to ten months.
Some goat farmers alternate the breeding times of their goats to make sure they get milk for most of the year, however, if you have just a couple of goats, or limited space, alternating breeding times may not be the answer for you.
A Brief Introduction
Here at Exotic Gardening Farms & Wildlife Habitat, we have three dairy goats, Spice, Sugar and Darla.
We bought them when they were already “in milk”.
We did not buy the babies, so we were able to keep all of the milk.
We bought Darla in March, Sugar in May and Spice in June.
We milked until late August, then decided to dry them up due to a lack of time to milk them.
Until we chose to dry them up, we milked twice a day, every day.
We had plenty of milk, butter, buttermilk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products while we were milking the goats.
However when we quit milking, there was no reserve.
Can You Freeze Goat Milk?
The following year in late spring and early summer our goats kidded giving us baby goats and plenty of goat milk!
However with the babies we did not get as much milk as we did the first year!
We still had plenty though, with a little left over.
So, I decided to figure out if there was a way to freeze the excess goat milk without it taking on a “goaty” taste.
I am happy to say my experiment succeeded and freezing goat milk is now something I do with all my excess goat milk.
Besides saving money by not having to buy milk or other dairy products, there are health benefits to drinking goat milk.
Can You Freeze Raw Goat Milk?
Yes, you can freeze raw goat milk.
The techniques and information in this article pertain to both raw goat milk and pasteurized goat milk, as well as other types of milk including cow and sheep.
I do recommend that you do your research on raw goat milk and understand why milk is pasteurized.
Our choice is to pasteurize our milk, but I know some people prefer their milk unpasteurized.
The choice is yours.
Can You Freeze Milk To Preserve It?
While the focus of this article is on goat milk, I have had so many questions asking about other types of milk such as cow’s milk and sheep’s milk.
I have successfully frozen cow’s milk, however it does separate when it thaws.
You can shake it up and still use it.
While I have not frozen sheep milk myself, you can freeze it and any other type of milk using the same technique as you would use for goat milk.
The Best Containers For Freezing Milk
Canning jars are the best containers for freezing milk.
Any size canning jar is ok, but I prefer the half gallon jars for milk, buttermilk or whey.
I use the pint canning jars for cream.
Of course, the size of canning jar you choose is determined in part by how often you milk and how much excess milk you have to freeze.
You can also use plastic containers, but plastic can give the milk an off taste, so I do not recommend it.
This way, if the container accidentally breaks, the mess is inside of a plastic bag instead of all over the bottom of the freezer.
Also, if you choose to use metal lids, I suggest placing Saran Wrap between the top of the jar and the metal lid.
How To Freeze Goat Milk Step-By-Step
I started out searching for a way to preserve the excess goat milk I was getting daily.
Several ladies on a food preservation list I belong to suggested freezing the milk.
Now there is a trick to this if you want to keep it tasting just as fresh as it would straight from the goat.
- First, as soon as you are done milking pasterurize it. If you prefer raw milk, skip this step and go ahead and cool it.
- It is best to strain the milk using non-gauze milk filters to remove any goat hairs or other impurities before you pasteurize it. If you are not pasturing, you still need to strain the milk.
- Once you are ready to move on to the next step, pour the strained milk into several small canning jars. I use pint jars that I fill 1/4 of the way full of milk because this makes it easier to cool the milk quicker.
- I place the canning jars with the milk in them in the freezer for half an hour, uncovered. An alternative method is to put the jars in ice cold water for 15 minutes, then move them into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- I open the freezer door every ten minutes and swirl the milk in the jars. If you are placing the jars in water first, there is no need to do this.
- Once cooled, pour the milk into a larger canning jar. I use a half gallon jar that I fill 3/4 of the way full. I encourage you to use a canning jar as they will freeze and thaw just fine in my personal experience. Other types of glass may break once it gets cold or even as the milk is thawing.
- I put a plastic lid on the canning jar to seal it. You can buy these in the canning section of most stores. They are designed to be used on canning jars.
- Once the jar of cooled milk is sealed with a lid, I put the jar into a large storage bag or freezer bag and seal it. The two gallon bags easily hold two half-gallon jars and I have found this method works best for me. I can thaw one jar or both jars depending on my needs.
- Be sure to write the contents and date on the jars, bag or both so you do not forget.
- Put the bags filled with the canning jars on the bottom of a chest freezer making sure they will not easily tip over.
- When it comes time to use the frozen milk, do not thaw the milk at room temperature or in a microwave. Instead sit the frozen jar in the refrigerator and let it thaw naturally. This may take two to three days depending on how cold your refrigerator is so you do need to plan ahead.
- Once the milk is thawed, use it as you would fresh milk. I use mine on cereal, drink it or use it in goat milk recipes. It tastes just like it did when it was fresh from the goat, the only difference is it is ice cold. It lasts three to four days for me because we use it up within that time frame.
- Sometimes I freeze the milk without removing the cream and sometimes I separate the cream. I like to freeze the cream in small ice cube trays, then wrap them in Saran Wrap before placing them in a freezer container for storage. They are good for six months. I also freeze the buttermilk left over from making homemade butter. I pre-measure it, then put it in small canning jars so I can use it in recipes. Be sure to label the jars with the name and the amount of buttermilk in the container.
How Long Does Goat Milk Last In The Fridge?
Goat milk normally lasts a week in the fridge when it is fresh.
It takes three to four days to thaw frozen goat milk in the fridge and it does not seem to last much longer three to four days after it is thawed.
Some people say their goat milk lasts slightly longer than a week and this could be because their refrigerator temperature is slightly lower than what mine is.
The best thing to do it to make a chart and document the date the goat milk goes into the fridge and also document any goat milk that goes bad so you know exactly how long it will last in your refrigerator.
Be sure to also document any goat milk that is used up so you can compare dates.
I make sure to never add more than two days worth of milk to the same container unless I am planning to make cheese and need to have a gallon of milk.
This keeps my milk separated and should some of it go bad, I won’t lose a lot all at once.
How To Store Goat Milk In The Freezer
This keeps the goat milk froze solid which is important.
You do not want the milk to thaw, even if it is just a little bit, while it is still in the freezer.
As mentioned above, have a system in place so the oldest milk is the easiest to access, then rotate the milk as you use it up making sure the oldest milk is always the easiest to reach.
How Long Does Goat Milk Last In The Freezer?
As I mentioned above, as long as the goat milk is properly frozen and does not thaw, it will last in the freezer for six months.
It is important for you to put a date on the jar or the jar lid before you place the goat milk into the freezer bag and freeze it.
Another tip is to position the goat milk you freeze first closest to the front of the freezer.
This way, rotating the jars and making sure none goes bad is much easier.
The jars are cold and do get pretty heavy once the goat milk freezes.
Also, always be sure to hold the jars and not just the freezer bag because you sure would not want the bag to give way from the weight and lose your frozen goat milk!
How To Thaw Frozen Gallons Of Milk
For some reason, everyone wants to know how to thaw frozen gallons of milk.
While I have never frozen a gallon container of goat milk, I have froze gallon containers of cows milk.
Regardless of the type of milk or the size of the container, the technique is the same.
The difference is going to be rather the milk separates during the thawing process as well as the length of time the milk takes to thaw.
Smaller containers will thaw much faster than larger containers.
One option is to pour off the thawed milk so you can use it while the frozen milk continues to thaw.
Here is how to go about thawing frozen milk.
- Place the container with the frozen milk in the refrigerator. Do not sit it in cold water or on a countertop.
- Allow the frozen milk to thaw naturally. This can take two to three days, sometimes longer. Just allow the natural process to happen.
- As stated above, it is ok to pour off any thawed milk and use it. I do recommend doing this so there is no chance it sours and ruins the entire container of milk.
Help! The Frozen Goat Milk Separated!
All types of milk do separated after they are frozen then thawed.
This is normal and nothing to get alarmed about.
Simply shake the container if the lid is airtight and if not, use a whisk to mix the cream back into the milk.
Alternatively you can remove the separated cream and use it to make butter.
Goat milk does not separate as much as cows milk normally, especially if the cream was removed prior to it being frozen.
You might also notice some flakes or lumps in the milk once it thaws.
Again, simply whisk it into the milk.
As long as you strained the milk before you bottled it to freeze and know the animals it came from did not have mastitis, it is safe to drink.
While some people will still drink milk from an animal with mastitis and often this type of milk does get into the commercial food supply, my personal choice is to never drink milk from an animal with mastitis, an animal that is sick or an animal that is being medicated.
Again, the choice is yours and remember just because you see lumps or flakes after the milk is thawed that does not mean the milk is bad or that the animal it came from was sick.
Lumps, flakes and separated milk is normal after frozen milk is thawed.