Goat’s milk

Categories: Product of the week

Raw milk from the lovingly tended herd at Ellie’s Dairy

“The production of the milk couldn’t be simpler,” says Joe Ralph from behind the array of all things goaty on the stall at Ellie’s Dairy. “The goats are brought into the milking parlour 12 at a time, the milk goes through a pipe system and is filtered into a vat. It cools straight down—the quicker it cools, the better—to around 2-3C. That’s it.”

The milk is left ‘raw’, which means it’s not pasteurised or homogenised—which is important not just in terms of keeping the milk’s goodness intact, but also its flavour. That tanginess often associated with commercially produced goat’s milk is a result of the pasteurisation process, during which the milk is pressurised and heated up through a radiator-type system. “The fatty acid molecules in goat’s milk are far more delicate than cow’s milk, so it changes the molecules and that’s what leads to that ‘goaty’ flavour coming through,” Joe explains. “It comes from overheating the milk.”

While goat’s milk does have a slight tang to it, the flavour differs depending on both the breed of goat and the season. “The goats are free to eat our grass as much as they want, year-round. We produce our own hay and hailage, so in the winter when they’re in the barn more, they eat more of that, which gives the milk a slightly stronger flavour,” says Joe. “Come summer, when they come out on to the grass just after kidding, which of course is just now, I find the milk slightly fresher and sweeter.”

It can be used in the same way as the familiar cow’s milk, “but it does tend to be a little more ‘goaty’ when it is heated up,” founder Debbie advises. “But, otherwise, you can make hot drinks, custard, lovely ice cream. It works really well in drinks with honey. The milk is very light and fresh, so also works well with fruit in milkshakes and smoothies. There are endless possibilities.”

Keep them as pets
And when they stop milking, “we keep them as pets,” Joe continues. “It’s the least they deserve—they’ve worked their whole lives!” Under the loving watch of Ellie’s Dairy, those lives are considerably longer than those of their commercial counterparts. “Some of them we have for 10 years after they’ve stopped milking. But often they keep going, and do so for as long as we see fit.”

The production, accordingly, fluctuates. “We just about have the milk year-round. Now is the highest point in production, where we’re looking at 400-450 litres a day. Come January, February, which see the lowest yield, we’re lucky to get 100 litres.” The goats aren’t going to be forced on to commercial machines, any more than they’re willing to head out into the rain. “They refuse to go outside in it. Or when it’s too hot. They don’t like helicopters, either.” They’re quite fussy, then?! “They’re a nightmare!” Joe grins. “Each goat is thoroughly spoilt, without a doubt.”