Adventures in Making Goat Butter
They Said Making Goat Milk Butter Would Be More Difficult. It Wasn't.
The first time I tried making goat butter, I didn’t have a cream separator. I didn’t have much of anything. But I tried anyway.
To be honest, I didn’t even have my own goat yet! I accompanied my friend as she milked two does into quart-sized mason jars, passed them to me, and said, “I’m drowning in milk. You can use this, can’t you?”
I took eight jars home and set them in the fridge. Sure, I could do something with it. I had already been making goat cheese, I learned how to make yogurt years ago, and I’d even experimented with goat milk flan and an eggnog recipe. But I received the two gallons of goat milk on a Sunday and I had a full workweek ahead of me, so those jars sat cold until the next weekend.
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Still a novice to goat milk and goat ownership, I had heard that it’s impossible to separate it without a cream separator, that it was naturally homogenized so making any kind of goat butter or sour cream would involve purchasing machinery. But within two days, a solid line separated thick cream from skim milk. I got excited. A couple days later, the heaviest cream sat on top, so thick it mounded on a spoon. I gently scooped it off, as I had learned to as a young girl when my dad brought fresh cow milk back from the dairy.
From two gallons of goat milk, I had three quarts skim, four quarts light cream, and one quart of the thickest, most beautiful heavy cream around.
I had an inspiration to make “homestead soap” with lard I had rendered from a friend’s butchered pig, honey from another friend’s hives, and locally sourced goat milk. So I measured enough milk for a simple cold process goat milk soap recipe, running it through a lye calculator to get the right saponification value of the lard. I didn’t use a water discount but froze the milk until slushy then sprinkled lye on top, using the “milk in lye” method I had already mastered when I learned how to make milk soap. At the end, I added certified gluten-free oats so I could share the soap with my celiac friend who had given me the honey. What resulted was a light brown bar, speckled with darker oat flakes, and fragranced with honey-apple scent.
It was late November, so of course I used the light cream for my cooked, nonalcoholic eggnog recipe. I used eggs from my chicken coop and homemade vanilla extract. Freshly grated nutmeg swirled into the beverage and I served it warm. It was amazing.
Still concerned about the claims that I couldn’t make goat butter without a cream separator, I pasteurized the cream, cooled it to below 100F, and added mesophilic cheese culture. I figured acidifying it would allow the butterfat to separate even more. Then I tended the cream beside a heater all night so it wouldn’t cool as the cultures grew. The next morning, I let the cream chill in the refrigerator.
One quart of cold, cultured cream entered the mixer bowl. Draping a towel over the stand mixer, I flicked the switch to the lowest churn setting. This process for how to make butter takes perhaps 15 minutes with heavy whipping cream purchased from the store, but would goat butter behave the same way?
No. It took an hour. But it did work.
From that one quart of milk, I got about one cup of goat butter. The most tangy, delicious goat butter ever. It was snowy white instead of yellow because goat milk has less beta carotene than store-bought cow milk does, but it was fatty, thick, and perfect. I drained off the goat buttermilk and saved it for my next biscuit-making adventure.
In anticipation of the goat butter, I pureed oats into flour then made beautiful Italian bread. Hot and fresh from the oven, it sat slathered in goat butter. No jam, no herbs. That would have been sacrilege.
That one cup of goat butter took nine days to make, if you count all the collection, chilling, culturing, and churning. We consumed it in less than an hour. Was it worth it? Yes. Ooooh yes. But, now that I have my own goats and anticipate milking and making goat butter as soon as my does wean their kids, will I purchase a cream separator? Absolutely.
Have you tried making goat butter? Did you use a cream separator? Share your experiences in the comments below!
7 Steps to Making Goat Butter
|Step||Instructions||Is This Optional?|
|1.||Collect and separate cream||No, but you can use a cream separator to make it easier.|
|2.||Pasteurize cream||Yes, but I recommend it if your cream is older or you are unsure if it was collected cleanly.|
|3.||Culture cream||Yes, it’s a matter of taste and it does help the butterfat separate better. It also gives you tangy buttermilk.|
|4.||Chill cream||Yes, but the butter separates and behaves better if it’s churned cold.|
|5.||Churn in stand mixer with paddle attachment||No, but you can use a blender on low or shake it by hand in a mason jar.|
|6.||Separate butter from buttermilk||No, save the buttermilk for drinking. If you cultured the cream, you can use the buttermilk in a recipe.|
|7.||Chill butter until ready to serve||Yes, you can eat it off a spoon right now, if you really want to. But remember that the butter will spoil … if you can keep it around that long.|