Got Your Goat
Goat milk makes a tasty, more readily digestible alternative to cow milk.
By Lisa James
If cow milk gives your gastrointestinal system fits—or if you’re looking for something different when it comes to dairy—Mark Scarbrough suggests trying goat milk.
“Goat milk is so wonderfully, easily digestible,” says Scarbrough, food writer and author (with chef Bruce Weinstein) of Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).
Goat Versus Cow
Milk sensitivity is often triggered by a sugar called lactose. Many people with lactose intolerance find they can drink goat milk; its smaller fat globules makes goat milk easier to digest, with less residue to ferment and cause discomfort. (Unlike cow milk, the fat in goat milk is naturally homogenized, or mixed more evenly throughout the liquid.) The curd in goat milk is softer and smaller, which also makes it gentler on the intestinal tract. And goat milk contains only traces of alpha s-1 casein, the protein in cow milk that can trigger allergies. (If you are allergic to cow milk, speak with your practitioner before trying the goat version.)
The two milks also differ in nutritional content. Goat milk contains more calcium and several other key minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins A and B1. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory and may help modulate the immune response in older people.
What’s more, “goats tend to be more environmentally friendly. They do not lend themselves to industrialized farming the way cows and chickens have,” says Scarbrough. That industrial approach often includes the use of bovine growth hormones in addition to agricultural chemicals cows ingest through their feed. Unpasturized cow milk can contain bovine leukemia virus (BLV), which has been linked to breast cancer, and studies have found instances of cow milk being incompletely pasteurized.
Goat dairying tends to be conducted on a smaller scale. “Even large goat dairies are nothing compared with a large cow dairy,” notes Scarbrough.
A Fashionable Flavor
Goat milk may still be novel to many Americans. But the fact that goats need less land and other resources makes them the dairy source of choice for much of the world’s population. “Immigrants are bringing goat farming from their cultures, and I think it’s catching on across the board,” says Scarbrough, particularly as people who react badly to cow milk look for sources of more digestible dairy products.
This explains why goat milk now appears as butter, yogurt, ice cream— and especially cheese. Sometimes called chèvre, it is most commonly thought of in this country as fresh, soft and mildly tangy or salty. But, like cow milk, goat milk can be made into cheeses that range in flavor from mild to strong and in texture from creamy to semi-firm. In addition to its use in salads, dips or as a table cheese (where it is often paired with jams or chutneys), goat milk cheese can also be used in pasta dishes, as a pizza topping and served over vegetables.
Goat milk itself is available fresh, either whole or low-fat, as well as condensed and powdered. Scarbrough notes that compared with cow milk, goat milk has umami, a pleasingly savory flavor first identified by Japanese researchers and now accepted as a fifth primary taste (in addition to bitter, salty, sour and sweet).
Because of its richer taste, goat milk can stand up to stronger flavoring agents. “If you want to substitute goat butter or milk in, let’s say, brownies, our suggestion is that whatever spices you’re using, double them. If you’re going to make a savory cream sauce, up your herbs and spices,” says Scarbrough. Goat milk’s umami makes for especially tasty baked goods, custards and cream sauces, resulting in a product that is “more elegant and sophisticated.”
Goats convert all the beta-carotene they eat into vitamin A, so goat milk products, including butter, are white. The butter has a lower melting point than cow butter, making it a good spread for toast and vegetables.
Love dairy but it doesn’t love you back? Goat milk, as well as the products made with it, can provide a healthy, tasty option.
“Chick-Brick” Marinated in Goat Milk & Herbs
4 boneless, skinless
chicken breast halves
marinade ingredients, below
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Pacific Rim Chicken Marinade:
1 cup whole goat milk
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1. Place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag and add marinade
ingredients. Seal bag, forcing air out, and place in refrigerator. Marinate
2-4 hours, turning several times to coat chicken evenly.
2. Wrap two clean patio bricks in foil.
3. Place a griddle or skillet over medium heat and brush with 1 tsp olive
oil. Remove chicken from marinade (dispose of leftover marinade) and
place two breast halves in hot pan. Place a brick on each breast half
and cook 4-6 minutes. Remove bricks, turn chicken and replace bricks
on top of chicken. Cook an additional 4-6 minutes or until chicken is
done. Keep warm and repeat process with remaining chicken pieces and olive oil.
Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 184 calories, 29g protein, 6g fat (2g saturated),
3g carbohydrate, 100 mg sodium
Reprinted with permission of Meyenberg Goat Milk Products (http://meyenberg.com)
Making Goats Milk Yogurt
For a change from regular cows milk yogurt, try making your own from goats milk. Start with a quart of goats milk, either fresh, reconstituted from powder or evaporated milk diluted with water. Heat to scalding, 180°F, and let cool to 110°F (lukewarm). Add three tablespoons yogurt or one packet yogurt culture. (Because goats milk yogurt tends to have a thin texture, you can also add a packet of unflavored gelatin or 2/3 cup of powdered milk dissolved in some of the scalded milk.) Pour the mixture into jars, glasses or earthenware containers, cover with clear plastic wrap and place in a large pan of warm water. Maintain the water at 100-120°F or set over a stove pilot light, and cover with a towel. The yogurt will take five hours to thicken (dried yogurt culture takes longer), and will continue thickening in the refrigerator. You can add honey, fresh fruit, nuts or vanilla, or mix with lemon juice or vinegar and salad herbs to use as a dressing. (Reprinted with permission of Meyenberg Goat Milk Products, http://meyenberg.com.)