Sunday, December 8, 2013
I have a friend who raises dairy goats at her farm. I was not a fan of the livestock-ish taste of goat milk I have purchased previously at the grocery store. But then I had her goat's milk. It was creamy and sweet (and naturally homogenized) without a hint of livestock to it. The kids and I actually downed the full quart of milk in my friend's driveway with some bickering and nary a drop to share with my husband at home.
This was last year. My girls have since learned how to milk a goat and are now thrilled it's a regular part of our diet.
But when tackling anything new, there is a learning curve. Milking an animal for the first time is a humbling experience. You might think it looks easy, but there is a knack to expressing the milk that takes a while to figure out. And then there is the fact that a goat is a living creature that moves and sometimes has an opinion about whether she is in the mood to be milked, or not.
We've had a couple of accidental hoof-in-the-milking-bucket scenarios during our learning curve. That milk is, for obvious reasons, not drinkable. But our goat friend told us to freeze that milk to make soap. My family has tried making soap previously out of lard (from rendered pig fat we made previously) with OK results (i.e., room for improvement was the refrain).
So when we ended up with 2 cups of frozen goat milk we decided it was time to make goat milk soap. We settled on a recipe that also included the lard we still had in our freezer.
Working with the lye is always a little unsettling to me so I did not take any pictures of the process of making soap with my daughter. But the final results were done within a few hours. We used the "hot method" to cook the soap in a slow cooker until the ph levels of the lye were non-reactive and saponification was reached.
Yeah, big talk for a simple chemical reaction that was much easier in my slow cooker than the last lye soap "cold method" batch that sat in my basement for five weeks to get to the same state of saponification.
The goat milk soap offers great suds and feels creamy to the touch. We all love washing our hands with it. And this kind of soap has loads of benefits for your skin so we plan to continue to make our own.
My daughter and I had the bright idea to put the soap in a large glass dish to solidify. But just before it fully cooled down, we cut the soap into animal shapes with cookie cutters. And yes, there was much lamenting there we did not have any goat cookie cutters.
There have (thankfully) been many more cups of milk recently that have been drinkable. Our favorite edible recipe for goat milk right now – besides straight up – is strawberry goat milk smoothies. No added sugar needed. Truly delicious!
I am not sure why it took me so long to find a local source of goat milk. But if you ever have the chance to get your hands on some goat milk fresh from the farm, try it. The supermarket does goat milk absolutely no justice.
In addition to taste, goat milk is more easily digestible than cow's milk. I ran across a Q&A with Dr. Sears explaining the science behind some of the benefits of this kind of milk for kids, too.
So I guess there are a few reasons our new goat milk addiction isn't such a bad thing.Tweet
Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.
On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.