Thursday, 17 May 2012

Recipe Thursday - Canning Milk

Life has sure changed a LOT since our small goat herd arrived. I don't mind waking up at 7am to milk and although my hands are still hurting slightly every morning I am pleased with my progress and my growing ability to milk all three of our ladies twice a day proficiently. I love hearing them call to me as I walk into the barn. Their cheery Baa's are a greeting I will never tire of. The only problem is what to do with all of the milk? Mountain Man and I have determined that we do not want to purchase milk from the store at all anymore but I am very aware that we will have a few months when the girls are dried up and gaining weight to give birth again. What to do? I will be making a lot of cheese and am excitedly waiting for my cultures and rennet to arrive but what about baking? For that matter milk to drink during that dry period.

Since we moved here I think I have spent more time doing research than anything else. There just seems to be so much I don't know. What I found was conflicting information. Many websites indicate that it is not safe to can milk or butter at home. This includes any product with milk in it such as cream soups. If you are interested in the reason why take a look at this article which includes links to other sites. I was stumped for a while on what to do and whether or not it is safe to can and use/drink home canned milk. To some extent I have to say I'm still not quite certain. However, during this time of research I happened to make a phone call that sort of changed everything, at least for me. It was during the time we were looking to purchase milk goats. I noticed an ad in the local paper for goats for sale and called the number listed.

Unfortunately the goats had already been sold but I spent probably an hour and a half on the phone with a complete stranger. It's not that unusual for me to do something like that. I have found the only way to learn is to ask questions and so when I find someone willing to answer the conversation can go on for quite some time as one question leads to another, and so on, and so on....

The lady in question had grown up in an Amish community and still lived mostly in the Amish way, the wisdom she had to impart will stand me in good stead for years to come. One of my queries of course involved canning milk. She informed me that the Amish use home canned milk all the time and she had never heard of anyone becoming sick from it. Not only that but they canned it using a water bath canner.

While I can not conceive of using a water bath canner for any low acid product this conversation really opened my eyes and I have stopped being quit so concerned. I still think we have to be very careful and am not sure if we will use the milk to drink or in anything that is uncooked. I know my home canned milk will not have the nutritional value of fresh milk and I've been told it tastes quite different but even having milk to cook and bake with over those dry months will make a huge difference. Perhaps next year I will try to have one of the ladies bred to kid in the fall so we have fresh milk all winter.

Once I had decided to can milk I again found a LOT of conflicting information. The recipes I found ranged from 10 minutes to 25 minutes of processing time. I decided to err on the side of safety and processed our milk at 10 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes. The process is laid out very nicely by Razor Family Farms at this URL. As well as on Mother Earth News at this site.

I am not in any way advocating you can milk at home as I think everyone has to make decisions for themselves regarding food safety but for Mountain Man and myself this will be a part of our lives. I can't wait to find out whether the wonderful cream you can see at the top of the jars can be used to make butter.

Have a good day my friends! I am off to do some gardening.


  1. Glo, I think its a great idea to can milk. If the Amish do this all the time, I really don't think it will be a problem. Can goats milk be frozen? I freeze cows milk.

    1. Yes it can, however as we live off the grid my little freezer can't handle it. :)

  2. Hi! I just canned my first batch of goats milk today. My pressure fell half way through so I had to restart my timing. My milk came out much darker and has VERY SOFT looking chunks. Have I over cooked and ruined it?


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