After winter and early spring rains passed by the desert comes a life. Different type of plants start to grow, turn green and bloom. The season of ‘desert abundances’ finally arrived again. Time to take our herds of sheep and goat out into the desert to let them graze the desert’s green valley floors. Soon lambs and baby goats are born. We let the youngster enjoy their mother’s milk for the first months. Once they are big and strong enough our women start to milk the sheep and goats. In spring the milk is very tasty because of their diet in this period. We milk our animals until early summer. We use the milk to drink or turn it into butter and cheese. In this blog we give you an insight on how Bedouin prepare goat milk, butter and cheese.
Goat milk; tasty and healthy
In our hot desert climate it is important to consume or process fresh milk as soon as possible or at least the same day. We prepare the goat milk for drinking by first heating it in the fire. We boil the milk together with some salt and thyme. Once it is hot we leave it in the fire for a couple minutes. Now it is safe to drink. We put it aside and let it cool down a bit. Sometimes we drink it while it is still warm. Other times we let it cool down first. We drink the pure milk of use it in our tea. We also use it to dip our morning bread. This tastes so delicious.
Do you wonder what goat milk tastes like? In general it is slightly sweeter than cow milk. But a lot depends on the goat’s diet. And on how the milk is handled and prepared. Goat milk is an excellent alternative to cow milk. Goat milk contains less fat, sugars and cholesterol than cow milk. And it contains more vitamins, calcium and phosphorus.
How to make goat butter
Part of the goat milk we use to make butter and cheese. Traditionally this is done by our women. To separate the fat from the milk they put the fresh milk and some salt in a bag. Preferably a bag made from goat skin. They hang the bag and for about half an hour they move it back-and-forth. By experience they feel when the milk fat is thickened enough. Time to let the bag rest for a while. Then they push the thick curd-like fat together and open the bag to scope it out.
They store the fat and add dried desert herbs and saffron to improve the taste and to give it colour. We use this tasty fat/butter for cooking purposes. And we also use it to garnish certain dishes.
How to make and use hard goat cheese
What is left in the bag, after getting the fat out, will be put in a pan. Our women carefully heat it in the fire. Once it cooks, the liquid starts extract and evaporate. A thicker substance emerges. After a few more minutes they take the pan from the fire. They put the substance in a cotton cloth to separate it from the liquid. They will hang it to let more liquid evaporated. What is left is a firm cheese ball. They take it out and make small ball out of the big one. These will be put in the sun to dry for a while. Then they will be put in the shade to dry further. After 3-4 days the balls are completely dry.
The hard cheese balls last longer in the hot desert. They have a strong but pleasant, salty taste. To use the hard cheese we re-hydrated them. We use it in some of our dishes.
If you are interested in goat products. Please inform us prior to your arrival.