How to Pressure-Can Goat's Milk: A Step-By-Step Photo Guide

Updated on June 9, 2018
Joy At Home profile image

Joy has been a goat lover and cheese lover for 20 years, and enjoys experimenting with making her own cheeses and dairy products.

Make Cream Soups! Hmm!

Pressure canned milk is suitable for almost any cooked application, such as this beautifully presented cream soup.
Pressure canned milk is suitable for almost any cooked application, such as this beautifully presented cream soup. | Source

Quick Reference For Canning Milk

Processing/Cooking time: 10 minutes (after 10 lbs. pressure is built)

Pressure Setting: 10 lbs. (may be 12 lbs. at high elevations)

Overall time per full canner load: 4 hours (from filling jars to emptying cooled canner)

Jar Size: Quarts, either wide or regular mouth

Storage term: 1+ years normally (depends on storage conditions, such as humidity)

Making The Most Of Our Goats' Milk Supply

My whole family loves dairy products, and we are all good cooks. Also, like many goat people, we tend to keep more does than we need. Once they have kidded, they can give up to 15 gallons extra milk a week, until their supply naturally tapers off due to their next pregnancies.

After we have made all the cheeses we require, and have shared milk to friends and neighbors, it is time to consider canning several gallons for the "dry" period.

In case you are in a similar situation, I'll show you what to do to pressure-can your extra goat's milk.

Equipment List, Except Canning Jars

Have ready all of your equipment (clean, of course), except jars, such as:

  • pressure canner in good working order
  • tongs or a magnetic lid lifter
  • jar lifter, for lifting the hot jars in and out of the canner
  • canning funnel, optional
  • cake tin or saucepan, for scalding lids
  • clean, damp cloth(s), or paper towels, for wiping jar rims once they are filled with milk
  • a clean towel and an out-of-the-way, heat resistant surface on which to set the jars once they are finished (we used a bath towel, as we processed many jars)

Once everything is in readiness, you can proceed to wash and fill your jars.

Please not that I am demonstrating with old (but well serviced) pressure canners. Be sure you read and understand the instructions which come with your particular model or type.

Step 1 - Prepare Your Canning Jars

Select only proper, brand-name canning jars. (Quarts usually work best for this project. You can decide if you'd rather use wide mouth or regular tops, however.) Inspect them for chips, cracks, or other weaknesses. (A regular jar, such as a pickle jar, might not be able to take the heat and pressure during this process, and may break.)

Wash each jar thoroughly in hot, soapy water, paying special attention to the threads around the top, and the bottoms of the jars on the inside, especially if they have been used before. You may also prepare them in an automatic dish washer, or by sterilizing in an oven. 200* F. for 20 minutes per batch is a general rule. If your jars have been stored in a basement or outbuilding in which vermin have been allowed to run, you would be wise to soak them in water to which a bit of chlorine has been added.

Set the jars aside to dry.

Have ready the number or rings and lids you will need, and wash them.

Canning Jars Prepared For Filling

Clean canning jars and rings at the ready.
Clean canning jars and rings at the ready.

Step 2 - Wash And Scald Lids

Place the lids in a small pan (a layer cake pan works well), and pour boiling water over them to scald them. Leave them in the water until you are ready to put them on the jars.

Scalding Canning Lids

Lids being scalded in a cake tin.
Lids being scalded in a cake tin.

Step 3 - Fill Jars

Using a ladle, fill all jars with clean, fresh milk, to within about a 1/2" of the rim.

Set aside each jar, dribbles and all, and proceed to fill as many as your canner will hold (usually seven).

With a very clean, damp cloth or paper towel, wipe each jar's rim, and any dribbles of milk down its sides.

Using the tongs or magnetic lid lifter, lift one lid at a time from the pan of hot or simmering water, and place it on the jar without touching the lid with your hands, if you can help it. Adjust two-piece caps, screwing the bands on finger-tight. This will allow for proper expansion during processing.

Filling The Jars

The required headspace is ½”.
The required headspace is ½”.
Since I can several gallons of milk at a time, I put it in a very clean 5-gallon bucket, and ladle directly into my jars. You may do whatever works for you.
Since I can several gallons of milk at a time, I put it in a very clean 5-gallon bucket, and ladle directly into my jars. You may do whatever works for you.

Setting The Pressure...Steaming First

Now the steam is coming through the pressure spout. Wait 10 minutes (older sources may say seven) to put the weight on, at 10 lbs. pressure.  Venting the pressure canner for 10 minutes ensures that the air is forced out of the canner.
Now the steam is coming through the pressure spout. Wait 10 minutes (older sources may say seven) to put the weight on, at 10 lbs. pressure. Venting the pressure canner for 10 minutes ensures that the air is forced out of the canner.

Step 4 - Fill The Canner

Put two quarts of water in the bottom of your pressure canner, and place the jars in it - six around the outside, and one in the center on a wire rack.

Put the lid of the canner on, aligning the two marks on the lid and body of the canner (on the front), and tighten the screws down in opposite pairs, snugly. Go around at least twice, checking the screws for tightness, before turning the fire on under the canner.

Use good judgment when deciding how high to turn the heat. On some stoves, "high" is not too hot or fast, while on others, "medium" would be pushing it. Whatever you do, now is the time to keep a close eye on your canner.

Filling The Canner

Seven quart jars ready to be processed. Note the wire rack in the bottom of the canner, which holds the jars off the bottom, so they don't break.
Seven quart jars ready to be processed. Note the wire rack in the bottom of the canner, which holds the jars off the bottom, so they don't break.
Each canner has been filled with 2 quarts of water. (Fill yours per the instructions which come with it.) The lids have been tightened down evenly, alternating opposite pairs of screws.
Each canner has been filled with 2 quarts of water. (Fill yours per the instructions which come with it.) The lids have been tightened down evenly, alternating opposite pairs of screws.

Step 5 - Processing

Once the heat is started under your pressure canner, the wait for it to come up to temperature and build proper pressure can be long. This should not be hurried too fast, because of the danger of damage or breakage to your jars. They need to warm and expand gently, and a full canner load of cool milk takes a while. So plan something you can do which will keep you within hearing of the kitchen.

You will know your canner has reached a full boil when steam begins blowing from the vent in the lid. Allow this vent to steam for 10 minutes before placing the weight on, set for 10 lbs. pressure at sea level. 7-10 minutes of free steaming are needed to make sure the vent is clear, though you may have checked it. After the weight is on, you will need to wait a few minutes more for pressure to build. Once it does, adjust your heat to allow for one jiggle of the weight every several seconds. Many jiggles per minute means that your heat is too high; fewer than four means your heat is probably too low. Experience will teach you the "magic" setting to maintain precise pressure, so check your gauge often. Too low a pressure means your product will not have been heated to a safe level for long-term storage. Too much, and... I will show you what happens with too much pressure.

"Chunky" Milk, Processed At Too High A Pressure

These jars were processed at 15 lbs. pressure, which I had been advised was correct for my elevation. It was too much, and actually blew the milk apart into liquids and solids, creating a cottage cheese texture.
These jars were processed at 15 lbs. pressure, which I had been advised was correct for my elevation. It was too much, and actually blew the milk apart into liquids and solids, creating a cottage cheese texture.
Compare the “good” jars at right. You can see that even vigorous shaking will not bring back the smooth texture of the “bad”...but they can still be used for most baking needs.
Compare the “good” jars at right. You can see that even vigorous shaking will not bring back the smooth texture of the “bad”...but they can still be used for most baking needs.

Color Of Canned Milk

The milk is an off-white color, due both to being cooked (the milk sugars slightly caramelize), and to a high-fat content (cream). I didn't skim my raw milk. This coloring will be true no matter at what pressure non-skimmed milk is processed.

Separated "Chunky" Milk

This jar has been sitting in my cellar for a while. You can see how the solids have settled, the cream has risen, and the whey has filled the space in the middle. (The sunlight makes it appear dark.)
This jar has been sitting in my cellar for a while. You can see how the solids have settled, the cream has risen, and the whey has filled the space in the middle. (The sunlight makes it appear dark.)

Step 6 - Cool Down

The canner needs to cool until the weight stops jiggling, and the gauge reads “zero”. Then remove the weight and allow the canner to continue cooling another few minutes, to further equalize pressure within it. Finally, remove the lid, and let jars sit five minutes, to allow them to adjust to cooler air, before removing them to their resting area, using a jar lifter.

Set them on a towel or board in a draft-free area, and allow them to sit still several hours or overnight, until they are cooled throughout. Check lids for a good seal (there should be no "give", and they should be sucked down). You will probably hear the lids " ping" as the milk cools, and pressure changes in the jars. Any that have not sealed may be refrigerated and used within a couple days.

Further Processing Tips

You will likely have milk overflow, because of the high-pressure boil. This is what the water in the canner looks like after the jars are processed. A few tablespoons were lost from 7 jars.
You will likely have milk overflow, because of the high-pressure boil. This is what the water in the canner looks like after the jars are processed. A few tablespoons were lost from 7 jars.
This is what happens if you put vinegar in the water to keep mineral sediment from building up on the jars and canner. Don't add vinegar when processing milk! It curdles the milk, and causes it to cling to the jars in an obnoxious goo.
This is what happens if you put vinegar in the water to keep mineral sediment from building up on the jars and canner. Don't add vinegar when processing milk! It curdles the milk, and causes it to cling to the jars in an obnoxious goo.
14 finished jars, sitting on a towel to cool overnight. See the gooey milk stuck to some of them? It's actually a form of cheese, because of contact with the vinegar.
14 finished jars, sitting on a towel to cool overnight. See the gooey milk stuck to some of them? It's actually a form of cheese, because of contact with the vinegar.

Step 7 - Clean-Up

You will need to scrub your jars and canner in hot, soapy water, once they are quite cool. (Jars should sit several hours, or overnight, in a draft-free area.) Of course, you will need to wash all your other equipment as well, being especially attentive to any plastic items (buckets, etc.) as they tend to hold the smell of milk.

You may wish to remove the rings from your jars and wash the threads well. (Some people prefer to store jars without rings, anyhow.) You definitely don't wish to attract vermin with sticky jars.

After Clean-Up - What a Nice Feeling!

A batch of clean, shiny, completed jars of canned goats milk.
A batch of clean, shiny, completed jars of canned goats milk.

Cream

The amount of cream showing in each jar will depend on how much was left in the milk you are using. When you use totally unskimmed, nonhomogenized goats milk, the cream gradually rises and forms on top of the milk during storage. This is natural, and will happen if goats milk is left in the refrigerator a few days in a glass jar or similar. I see up to 1” when I open canned jars.

This cream probably won't mix into coffee very well, but is tasty on cereal or in sauces.

I've never tried making butter from cooked cream...but if you cared to experiment, I'd like to know how that goes. Drop me a comment if you try this. If I plan on making butter, I skim the milk before canning it, and save the cream in the freezer until I have enough to bother processing it in a food processor.

Storing Home-Canned Products

Home-canned products like cool - but not cold - environments, with very little temperature change. An underground cellar or unheated basement is ideal.

Any severe temperature change in the atmosphere will cause the pressure in the jars to change, and may make them come unsealed. If this happens, you will have spoiled food in your storage.

It is a good idea to check your jars periodically, even if you have no serious doubts about their environment. You may not be able to avert a problem entirely, but you may be able to head it off before it blooms into a disaster.

Safely Canning Cheeses - Another Dairy Storage Option

Why Can Goat's Milk?

Canning means you can keep milk for cooking purposes, without taking up valuable freezer space. Canning is a long-term storage solution, and a handy one for many people. You will probably not wish to drink the canned milk as, being a cooked product, it tastes slightly caramelized. But there is nothing wrong with its quality.

I chose to can milk in the eventuality that the goats from which I get my regular supply should go dry all at the same time, preparing for their next kids. Last time this happened, I was out of goats milk for at least three months, while the mothers kidded, freshened, and built up enough supply for their babies and my family.

Why Use A Pressure Canner?

You should use a pressure canner instead of a water bath canner, for food safety reasons. Basically, the pressure canner cooks the milk to a higher temperature, and prevents it from retaining bacteria that can cause spoilage.

I demonstrated using raw, unskimmed milk, which will keep a while on its own in a refrigerator, but will eventually sour, then actually spoil. Once it is cooked, it will skip the souring process and go straight to spoiling, especially if air is present. So play it safe.

How Much Time Does Canning Milk Take?

If you have only one canner, expect to do no more than 14 quarts in a day. The whole process takes about 4 hours from the first step of washing and preparing the jars, to the 5th out of 6 steps, which includes waiting for the canner to cool down enough to open it.

My mother and I, working together and using two canners, did 28 quarts the first day, and 14 the next morning, for a total of 41 quarts, or just over 10 gallons of milk.

I figure this would be enough to last me about 10 weeks in the winter, assuming I had no fresh milk available, as I use about a gallon a week for baking during the colder months.

Pressure Canning Altitude Chart

Food Safety - Canning Storage Methods

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Joilene Rasmussen

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)