Cheese Begins As Milk

When I started raising goats, it was for the milk. I liked drinking milk and had problems drinking cow’s milk, but not goat milk. Except the amount of milk in the refrigerator kept mounting. Well, cheese begins as milk.

The simplest cheese is set with vinegar. The milk is heated enough to kill off most bacteria in the milk.

cheese begins as milk safely produced
Goat milk absorbs odors and can get dirty left open in the milk room making a stainless steel tote a must. Warm milk breeds bacteria. A simple ice bottle can cool milk in the tote during hot weather.

For most cheeses the milk is not heated to those temperatures. The milk can be pasteurized before making the cheese, but then various starters must be added or the cheese doesn’t make well.

I prefer to use unpasteurized milk to make cheese. That makes the remark cheese begins as milk take on great significance. Bacteria laden milk will spoil the cheese.

Clean milk begins with good milking equipment. I started with a quality stainless steel milk bucket and tote. These are expensive, but good care keeps them in good shape for decades.

Nubian doe on milk stand
Dairy goats do have long legs, but they are still close to the ground. The solution is a milk stand. This is a simple, sturdy one used now for over thirty years. The legs are braced. The front has two 2 x 4’s, one rigged with a bolt to act as a stanchion. The latch is a long nail on a chain pushed through a hole. The metal mesh on the stand does collect dirt, but provides good footing for the goat. The stand restrains the goat for giving shots and trimming hooves as well as for milking. the Nubian doe is High Reaches Pamela.

Warm milk is a great place to live in the opinion of bacteria. Winter cold takes care of this problem for months. As soon as temperatures stay above sixty other measures are needed. My solution is a pint plastic juice bottle of ice placed in the tote to cool the milk as soon as it is added. If you do this, remember water expands ten percent when it freezes (Investigation found in “The City Water Project”) so leave head space.

Both the milking equipment and the ice bottle are cleaned as soon as the milk is poured out. Scratching stainless steel ruins it. A soft scouring pad cleans without scratching.

cheese begins as milk from an udder
Some books say to wash the goat’s udder. Others say not to. For me, I wash a muddy udder. Otherwise I brush it off. A circular, hard rubber horse curry comb works really well even for dirt. A stainless steel bucket is best and I had one for years. At a time I thought I was quitting milking, I sold my bucket. The Tupperware pitcher works well, but must be thoroughly cleaned. If my milk stays fresh in the refrigerator for over seven days, my procedure is working. Otherwise I check for sloppiness.

Goat milk needs to be strained into clean glass jars and refrigerated as soon as possible. Some cheeses use milk fresh from the barn. The vinegar cheese does. Feta and Cuata can be fresh or cold. Mozzarella milk must be cold.

Don’t fall into this trap: ‘the milk looks clean, why bother to strain it?’ It’s amazing what you don’t see. Taking a sip of milk and getting a mouthful of hair is really icky. You can use special filters. I’ve used Viva paper towels for years with good results.

Cheese begins as milk. Now that good, clean milk is waiting in the kitchen, it’s time to make some cheese. I make  few simple cheeses and will go through them one a week for a few weeks.

Harriet buys her dream Nubian dairy goats and must learn to milk in “Capri Capers“.