When I first got the goats, I was intending to drink the milk raw. I soon found out, however, that Doctor Husband was having NONE of that. He pretty much insisted that I was going to die, and at the very least I had to pasteurize the milk for the kids. I felt like it would be unfair to unilaterally make the decision to feed our kids raw milk, so I agreed. I was worried that the milk would taste "goaty" if I pasteurized it, since I had read that was a possibility, but it actually tasted exactly the same, so I was won over.
Now that I've been pasteurizing our milk for a while, I actually really prefer it. I know plenty of people drink raw milk and give it to their kids, and I think that's fine. After reviewing the research, I've come to the conclusion that the risks aren't really worth the benefits. I still think the milk I get from my goats has benefits over store bought milk because I low-heat pasteurize it, which allows it to retain the good stuff while killing the pathogenic bacteria. It's also fresh and not processed to be shelf-stable, which I think is beneficial as well. I don't know if goats are significantly different than cows, but I don't think raw goat milk is something I'd want to drink regularly. Goats poo A LOT. They basically can't get away from it. I guess none of us can really get away from poop since it's everywhere, but goats lay around in their poo all the time. I'm SURE that poop is all over their udders, and no matter how stringent I am with cleaning everything, I'd worry about it getting in the milk. So, I can relax a bit since I pasteurize it, and not spend so much time worrying about cleaning their udders to spotless perfection so my kids don't die.
SO, how do I pasteurize my milk?
Since food is king in our house, I actually already had everything I needed to make pasteurizing easy. I use a sous vide machine, which heats water to a set temperature and maintains that temperature while circulating it.
I store all the milk in mason jars after I milk the goats, which are pretty good for pasteurizing because the glass transfers heat easily. I heat the water to 160 with the sous vide machine so after I put the cold jars of milk in, it doesn't drop the temperature too far below the temperature I want it to be. The recommended temperature for low-heat pasteurization is 145 degrees for 30 minutes. Commercial dairies usually use high-heat pasteurization which is 160 degrees for just 15 seconds.
Once the water gets up to 160, I nestle the jars in. I usually cover them loosely with cling wrap so nothing gets in them as they sit there. I can't leave the tops on, because heating the milk would create a build up of pressure, so I don't want the jars to be closed during the process. To monitor the internal temperature of the milk, I keep a probe thermometer in one jar that beeps when the milk has reached 145 degrees. I check all the bottles to make sure they're all at 145, then I start the timer for 30 minutes. The sous vide machine keeps the temperature where I want it, so this all requires minimal labor. I do check every so often to make sure the milk maintains at least a minimum temperature of 145, but it usually does. I actually have to set the sous vide machine at 148 to maintain an internal temperature of 145. Setting the machine at 145 for some reason didn't maintain an appropriate temperature in the center of the milk.
After 30 minutes, I put the tops back on and put all the jars in an ice bath. I want the milk to be cooled quickly to maintain its good flavor, but this also serves to create a seal on the jars and hopefully help them last longer. Honestly, we drink the milk fast enough to where none of them have gone bad, so I don't know if this would help it stay fresh longer or not, but it makes me feel better knowing it's "canned".
And that's it! I label the jars with a "P" for "pasteurized" and put them in the refrigerator. I usually pasteurize 4 quarts at a time, so I do this every other day or so. I usually just leave it running while doing other chores, so it doesn't really add much work to my day. Easy peasy!