A Chemical-Free Milk Bucket Sterilisation Routine

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Geraldine’s milk

Raw milk is an important food to my family, so much so that we don’t mind buying all of our goats’ feed in while living in suburban sized blocks with no grazing land. To make the most of this precious milk, and to make sure that there’s no chance of us getting sick, I am careful about having a milking routine that minimises the chances of the milk getting contaminated.

This is what I do:

As soon as I’ve poured milk into the jars that I’ve sterilised the day before, I wash my stainless steel milking bucket, stainless steel funnel, and cotton straining cloth with cold or lukewarm water, making sure that all the milk has been removed from them. I place it all upside down in the oven (except for the cloth), and fill the rest of the oven up with any jars that need sterilising, placed upside down as well (I rinse these jars in lukewarm water as soon as they’re empty, if you leave them sitting around with a tiny bit of milk in them it will be very difficult to remove later). I switch the oven on to 110ºc or 230ºf and leave it to heat up.

I bring a small pot of water to the boil for the jar lids. When it’s boiling I add the lids and boil for around a minute, then drain the water from the pot and put the lid back on.  When the oven has heated up, and there is no water remaining on the jars and they are hot to the touch, I turn the oven off and put the jar lids in there to dry. When the oven has cooled down, I take the jars out, put the lids on them, take the milking bucket, put the funnel inside it and cover it with the lid. The lids stop bugs and bad bacteria from getting into anything that will touch the milk. Some books I’ve read say to store the bucket upside down to achieve the same thing, but I find having a lid to be really useful, not just for storing the empty bucket, but also for carrying the milk into the house, and for just making sure nothing gets into it in between goats, of if there’s some emergency or another that needs seeing to during milking time.

As for the straining cloth that I mentioned earlier, some people use disposable filters, I don’t. I use a bit of cheesecloth and hang it on the washing line to dry after rinsing, and then before I milk, I bring some water to the boil, put the cloth in it, and boil for a minute, then I tip some water out of it and leave the lid on the pot, to stop anything else getting to it. To strain the milk, I put the funnel over the top of a jar, cover the funnel in the cloth, and pour the milk in. To hurry things up I’ve made the cloth a bit bigger than the funnel, so I can gather it up with my hands and squeeze the milk out of it.

Once the milk is in the jars and the lids are on, I put them in the fridge, surrounded with ice, to chill them quickly.  When we were moving house and I didn’t have a fridge or ice I just kept the milk at room temperature and used it within a day without any problems. If you leave fresh raw milk at room temperature for longer it will start to thicken and turn into cheese.

I should probably put a disclaimer here, in case some pansy gets sick for some reason or another and tries to take legal action (I can’t actually sell my goats milk as pet food in this country, in case a person drinks it and sues me! I wonder if the supermarket pet food companies have the same problem…!). Here’s the disclaimer: This article is what I do, it does not constitute advice for you. I am fed up with this culture of litigation and wish that everyone would just take responsibility for their own actions and lives so that we wouldn’t need silly disclaimers on everything. Thank you.

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