Marye Audet Photo
Marye Audet

YIELD Makes two pounds

When you have livestock, even small livestock, you get used to a pattern of feast followed by famine. In the winter the milk is scarce, the eggs, are scarce and you find yourself supplementing with purchased organic milk. In the summer you may feel like if you see one more quart jar of milk or one more large brown egg you will begin to use them as weapons of mass destruction.

If life gives you goat's milk? Make ricotta!

The Difference in Goats Milk and Cows Milk

Goat's milk is different from cow's milk in a few ways. It is naturally homogenized which means that the fat, or cream, does not separate out as much as in cow's milk. It is easier to digest than cow's milk, and many people who cannot tolerate regular milk do very well with goat's milk. In addition, goat's milk has a higher fat and protein content.

When cooking, goat's milk can be substituted for cow's milk measure for measure but the result will be somewhat creamier. Some people feel that goat's milk has a musky flavor that is disagreeable. This is really only true when the milk has not been handled properly, or is old. Most people who drink fresh, raw goat's milk and fresh raw cow's milk can't tell the difference.

Goats Are an Important Part of a Sustainable Homestead

While you need a large area to keep a cow, a goat is fine in a reasonably small space. There are a number of different breeds, but miniature goats like the Nigerian Dwarf, are easily kept in a yard. Be sure to check local ordinances and codes, however.

We raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and love their sweet temperament and creamy milk. Since the goats are only about the size of a good size Golden Retriever they are easy to deal with. One of ours does give about three quarts of milk a day when she is in milk, so the amount really is significant compared to their small size. One of these smaller goats is just about perfect for the average size family.

Not only do you get the milk but there is generally an excess of rich manure for your garden. Your lawn may stay nicely manicured as well, depending on the goat.

Just be sure that you do your research. Any animal, especially livestock, need care and consideration. Be a responsible steward of the animals you take in.

Making Ricotta Cheese from Raw Goat's Milk

If you have a few goats and your refrigerator space is at a premium try your hand at this quick and easy recipe for homemade ricotta cheese. It has a creamier texture than cow's milk ricotta, and a mild, sweet flavor. You can store it up to a week tightly covered and kept in a cool area of the refrigerator but it is at its best for the first twenty-four hours.

INGREDIENTS

Supplies
Large stock pot
Stainless steel spoon
Strainer
Cheesecloth
Colander
Container
1 gallon raw goat's milk
1/4 cup organic cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic, unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

PREPARATION:

  1. Slowly heat the milk to 195 degrees. Do not let it boil or stick to the pan bottom. This will take up to two hours on low heat, so be patient.
  2. Stir carefully every few minutes while the milk is heating.
  3. When it reaches 15 degrees slowly stir in the vinegar, a few drops at a time.
  4. There will be a clear separation of the curds and the whey. As soon as you see this separation stop adding the vinegar.
  5. Sometimes the curds will not separate out. If this happens just increase the temperature of the milk to 205 degrees.
  6. Gently strain the curds out of the whey and into a large colander which has been lined with cheesecloth.
  7. Drain for one minute.
  8. Gently spoon the curds into a bowl.
  9. Carefully stir in the melted butter and the baking soda.

    That's it. You have successfully created ricotta cheese. You can use it in ravioli, lasagne or anything else you can think of.

  10. Whether you are raising your own dairy goats or buying from a nearby farm, buying local is earth friendly. For more information about buying local check out Emeril's Keeping It Local.

  11. Got a tip or a post idea for us to write about on Planet Green? Email pgtips (at) treehugger (dot) com.

This recipe appears in: Savory Sauces

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