What Makes Some Goat Milk Taste Bad

I was asked, “What makes some goat milk taste bad?”  Milk should taste like milk…but milk may not always taste like that white liquid you buy at the store.  Some milk has character.  Some milk tastes different.  Some milk tastes bad.  I’ll offer my thoughts on the subject, though I’m far from an authority.  In fact, I’m anxious to read your responses.  I also want to note this is not limited to goat milk.

Handling
Goat milk, cow milk and, I suspect, camel milk all benefit from being refrigerated quickly.  Milk is biologically active and yearns to express its potential.  We place our milk in the freezer immediately after milking to chill it quickly and slow biological processes as soon as possible.  This quick chill doesn’t kill anything but it does slow everything down.  Our friend Steve does the same thing with cow’s milk.  He sterilizes a deep freezer every night, fills it about 1/3 full of water and lets it chill overnight.  In the morning he puts 5-10 gallons of milk in the freezer in cans to chill.  We do something similar but since we’re only chilling 4-6 pounds of milk (as opposed to 80 pounds) and since we consume all of our milk ourselves we just pop the jar in the freezer with the pork chops.  This could affect flavor.

Sanitation
Your dairy can impart flavors on milk.  Is the goat clean and brushed and did you wash the udder?  Are your buckets and jars sterile?  Did you use an appropriate filter to strain the milk?  Not only can your milk become unsafe to drink, the critters you introduce when handling the milk can change the flavor.

Diet/Seasonality
Diet makes a huge difference in milk flavor.  Our goats get a varied diet in addition to free-choice alfalfa hay.  We also buy raw cow’s milk from a dairy North of us.  There is a noticeable difference in flavor as the seasons change.  In the winter the cows eat alfalfa hay and the milk is sweeter.  As spring comes on their diet is rye and clover.  The milk takes on a smokey character.  I find myself lacking appropriate adjectives for the milk but it does change seasonally as does the cow’s diet.  Further, goat milk changes depending on what kinds of weeds are out there and the availability of browse.  Finally, milk changes as we get further into the lactation.

Genetics
Some goats just have a different…flavor.  Like apples, genetics seem to have an impact.  I know.  Do with that what you will.  I suspect it’s the least important after diet, sanitation and quick chill.

Buck Smell
If you  keep a buck with your doe you’ll smell him.  The smell won’t leave you.  You can’t get it out of your clothes.  Your co-workers will remark on the odor.  It soaks into your pores and no amount of pumice will remove it.  Makes sense then that it will be on your doe…and it will taint the milk.

What do you do with your goat milk?  Just add a glass and drink?  Goat milk ice cream?  Cheese?  Let us know in the comments below.