Despite the brilliant flash of inspiration that comes over you when you realize that goat's milk is a clever around dairy allergies: DO NOT TAKE IT AS A CURE-ALL.

My father, you see, has been unable to drink the true cow stuff for nigh onto ten years. So, being the thoughtful person I am, I whipped up a recipe of homemade ice cream using pure goat's milk as the dairy base. The fat content matched perfectly, and a full batch of the creamy stuff soon ensued. Spoons were issued to all, and I sat back to bask in my own brilliance.

Flash to thirty seconds later, and half a dozen people retching on what can only be described as the most foul-tasting stuff to ever grace these taste buds. Goat's milk, for the uninitiated, has a certain... tang to it, best seen by finding some good goat cheese. While this is a delightful accostment to the senses as a cheese, it fails to pass the test as a dessert item. Picture adding sour cream to your favorite Breyer's half-gallon, and leaving it in the sun for a day or so. This is the horror of goat milk ice cream.

Shudder.

Everything you've heard about goat milk is wrong!

First, the taste. Goat milk does not and should not taste bitter or metallic or barny or rancid. If your goat milk tastes like it has gone bad, it has! Don't drink it! The awful taste you've heard about is almost always due to improper handling. Goat milk is food. It's food that comes directly out of an environment highly suitable to all kinds of bacteria. Goats must be milked in sanitary conditions, and the milk must be cooled rapidly to prevent the growth of bacteria. When this is done right, a fine and wonderful milk is produced.

The home winemaker who takes a basket of overripe and spoiled, wormy, moldy fruit, puts it in a dirty crock, and pays no attention to proper fermentation, does not end up with a fine wine. And the goat raiser who milks a sickly, undernourished animal of questionable breeding into a dirty pail, lets the milk "cool" in the shade, and serves it in a filthy glass does not end up with fine milk. While few people would disparage all wines after tasting the concoction just mentioned, many people are all too willing to write off all goat milk after one unfortunate experience.
--Jerry Belanger

Goat's milk does have some medicinal purposes, but it is not a cureall by any means. The fat in goat milk is finer than that of cow milk so it is more easily assimilated by the human body. People who suffer from disorders like dyspepsia or liver dysfunction may benefit from drinking goat milk. Some people with a mild cow milk allergy can drink goat milk, but others can't. It's the same with those who are lactose intolerant. And human infants cannot survive on goat milk alone; human babies should be drinking human milk.

Goat milk can be canned, condensed, or dried. It can be made into excellent cheese or a cultured buttermilk. Because goat milk is naturally homogenized - the cream does not separate out like it does in cow milk - it is more difficult to make goat yogurt or butter, but it can be used for the Mongolian milk beer, koumiss. Ice cream is possible, but you must use a cream separator.

Did you know?

  • Around the world, more people drink goat milk than cow milk.
  • In blind taste tests, people prefer the taste of goat milk to cow milk.
  • Goat milk has more calcium and potassium than cow milk, and also more vitamin A, thiamine, and niacin
  • Every year, humans consume nearly five million tons of goat milk.

So before you go off halfcocked on a rant about the evils of goat milk, do give the real stuff a try. Go(a)t milk?


Sources:
Belanger, Jerry. Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats.. Storey Books, 2001.
Luttmann, Gail. Raising Milk Goats Successfully.. Williamson Publishing, 1986.
Mackenzie, David. Goat Husbandry. Transatlantic Arts, 1975.

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