FAQ: General

Where can I find your products?

Our goat milk yogurt and kefir are sold nationwide in natural, specialty and conventional food stores. Please visit our store locator to find our products at a store near you. If you can't find a store in your area that carries our products, we encourage you to let us know by sending an email to contact@redwoodhill.com so we can follow up with them. In addition, we recommend talking directly with the dairy buyer at your store and putting in a request, using our request form. If a store is not able to place the products on their shelves, it is oftentimes possible to special order a whole case and receive a case discount from the retailer.

Do you ship directly to consumers?

We do not ship directly to consumers. Transporting and distributing our products is a delicate process, and we’ve found that direct shipping can be too rough on the product and compromise its integrity. Please visit our store locator to find our products at a store near you.

Can I visit your farm or creamery?

The original Redwood Hill Farm, just down the road from our creamery, offers intimate, hands-on educational tours of its Certified Humane® goat dairy in Sebastopol, CA. At the farm tours, you’ll get to meet the goats and learn how to milk, brush, or feed them. In addition, you’ll learn about the many other crops and animals that thrive on this biodiverse farm, including chickens, bees, Gravenstein apples, hops, and olives. Visit redwoodhillfarm.org for details and to reserve your spot. We are a working creamery and cannot offer tours at all times for the general public. However, if you are one of our partners, customers in the trade, or from the media and would like to inquire about a personal, educational tour for yourself or staff, please contact us for details. To learn about other farm tours and agricultural activities that happen year-round in Sonoma County, visit FarmTrails.org.

What materials do you use for your packaging?

We design all of our packaging with food safety, product integrity, and sustainability in mind. To find out what kinds of materials your local recycling facility accepts, visit www.earth911.org. Simply enter your zip code and the type of material you want to recycle. We also encourage you to reuse your containers for art projects, food storage, or to start plants for the garden. Here are the specific types packaging we use:  
    • Yogurt Containers: Our yogurt containers and lids are made with #5 food-grade plastic. We chose the lighter weight #5 plastic in order to minimize the environmental impact of our packaging. The containers are BPA, BPS, phthalate and PVC free, and don’t contain chloride that releases dioxins when heated.Underneath the lid, the cups are protected with an aluminum foil seal that is thinly coated in plastic, in order to prevent the product from coming into contact with the aluminum. This type of mixed-material seal is typically not recyclable, but we recommend checking with your local recycling facility to make sure.
 
  • Kefir Containers: Our kefir containers and lids are made with #2 food-grade plastic. They are BPA, BPS, phthalate and PVC free, and don’t contain chloride that releases dioxins when heated.

Are your products kosher?

Our products are kosher certified for year-round use, exclusive of Passover, by the Orthodox Rabbinic Certifiers of San Francisco. We undergo annual inspections of our facility in order to maintain kosher certification.

Do you ship your products to Canada?

We often hear from people in Canada who request our goat milk dairy products. Unfortunately, we are not able to export or ship to Canada, due to their strict quotas on dairy products.

FAQ: Products

What does the “best-by” date on your packaging mean?

There is a printed “best by” date on every container of yogurt and kefir. We recommend all of our products be consumed on or before the “best by” date to ensure quality and freshness. Once opened, we recommend consuming our products within 5-7 days. Our products will last longer if stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. By smelling, tasting, and looking at the appearance, you can use your best judgment to determine the product’s freshness.

Can I bake or cook with your products?

Our products are wonderful substitutes for other dairy products in recipes and we encourage you to bake and cook with them. Please keep in mind that the probiotics are alive and active, and their nutritional digestive properties will be compromised when heated above 120 degrees. For recipe ideas, please visit the Recipes section of our website.

Can I freeze your products?

Yes, our yogurt and kefir can be frozen for later use. Always thaw them in the refrigerator, which can take up to 24 hours. The texture of the products may be affected and they will not be as creamy, but the probiotics and nutritional benefits will not be compromised.

What is the difference between kefir and yogurt?

Goat milk yogurt and kefir are similar in taste, but differ slightly in texture. Goat milk yogurt is more firm than kefir, like a custard. We use a small amount of pectin and tapioca starch to thicken our yogurt, and culture it with a blend of 7 probiotics.

Are there seasonal variations with goat milk?

The composition of goat milk changes seasonally due to goats’ natural lactation cycles. In the winter and early spring they tend to produce milk that is denser and higher in butterfat content, which can result in thicker, more robust kefir and yogurt. In the summer and fall, goat milk has less butterfat, which leads to a slightly thinner consistency. We see a lighter, more delicate texture in our yogurt and kefir during these months.

We do our best to maintain consistency so that our customers are able to enjoy our products year round. During certain months, we slightly increase the amount of tapioca starch used in our yogurt to achieve a consistent thickness. Since we don't include any additional ingredients to thicken our kefir, some seasonal variation is to be expected.

I noticed some liquid on top of my yogurt. Is this normal?

Yes, it is normal for a bit of liquid (whey) to separate from our yogurt. It occurs when there’s been pressure applied to the yogurt or when it has undergone a temperature change. This liquid contains many of the important vitamins and nutrients in the yogurt, so we recommend delicately folding it back into the yogurt.

What method do you use to pasteurize the milk?

Using the vat pasteurization method, we pasteurize our goat milk at 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 30 minutes. This process preserves the integrity and flavor of the milk, while still ensuring we eliminate any harmful bacteria.

After vat pasteurization, we cool the milk to 110 degrees and add beneficial bacteria (also called cultures or probiotics). Then we incubate the milk for 5-8 hours until the product thickens into yogurt or kefir.

We don’t use anything to thicken our goat milk kefir; it has a naturally creamy, pourable consistency. We culture it with a blend of 11 probiotics. Both are delicious and contain billions of probiotics in every serving.

Do you sell goat milk?

We specialize in cultured goat milk dairy products like yogurt and kefir and no longer sell fresh bottled goat milk. You may wish to enjoy our kefir in place of milk—many people pour it over cereal or blend it with fruit in a smoothie.

FAQ: Ingredients

Which probiotics do your kefir and yogurt contain?

To make our kefir and yogurt, we ferment milk with live and active cultures that contain potent probiotics. Probiotic literally means “life giving,” and the live, active cultures help our digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients. We use a blend of cultures in our kefir and yogurt selected for their unique and complementary roles in flavor and probiotic development.

Our kefir includes the following cultures: Bifidobacterium lactis, S. thermophilus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. delbrueckii subsp. lactis, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris.

Our yogurt includes the following cultures: S. thermophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus, L. delbrueckii subsp. lactis, and L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus.

Our kefir and yogurt both contain hundreds of billions of probiotics per serving.

Do your products contain gluten?

All of our products are Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) and are made in a facility that does not contain any products with gluten as an ingredient.

Do you add any sugar to your plain yogurt or kefir?

We don’t add sugar to our plain goat milk kefir or yogurt. The sugar content on the label reflects the milk sugar (lactose), which is naturally occurring in the milk.

How do you sweeten your vanilla and fruit yogurts?

We recently reformulated our vanilla yogurt to give it a classic vanilla flavor, using organic vanilla extract and organic cane sugar. After many trials, we came up with our new recipe that features the bright, classic aroma of pure vanilla, without being overly sweet.

If you prefer the taste of our previous vanilla yogurt recipe, try stirring a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup into our plain yogurt, which contains no added sugar. That way, you can adjust the sweetness to your liking!

We also reformulated our fruit yogurts with the goal of using less sugar and more fruit. We now use all-organic fruit and organic cane sugar to flavor our fruit yogurts. Our new recipe has 50% more fruit, twice as many actual fruit pieces, and less sugar per serving. We find that using organic cane sugar provides the perfect balance of sweetness and tart.

Why does your yogurt contain pectin and tapioca starch?

We use a small amount of tapioca starch and pectin to thicken the yogurt, create its delicate texture, and minimize excess whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt). We use a non-GMO tapioca starch, derived from the root of the Cassava plant. Our pectin is citrus-based, derived from lemon and lime peels. Our kefirs do not contain any tapioca or pectin.

If you are highly allergic to potato, we suggest you ask your physician if consumption of tapioca is advisable.

What type of rennet do you use in your cheese?

We use a non-GMO vegetarian, microbial rennet that meets kosher standards and is gluten free. Rennet is an enzyme used to coagulate milk in cheese making.

Does your goat milk kefir contain alcohol?

Our kefir does not contain alcohol. Traditionally, kefir was made with kefir grains, which produce a small amount of alcohol during the fermentation process. Since we wanted to make a product that allows our customers to enjoy cultured dairy without having to worry about alcohol in the finished product, we use a blend of live and active cultures instead of kefir grains. We carefully picked this specific blend because it produces billions of probiotic bacteria in every serving, and creates the kefir flavor we were looking for, without creating alcohol as a byproduct.

FAQ: Farming & Sustainability

Where does your goat milk come from?

We work with seven different Certified Humane® family farms, including the original Redwood Hill Farm several miles away from our creamery, to source goat milk for our products. The farms primarily raise Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian, and Saanen goats, breeds known for being well suited to milk production. Learn more about our goats here.

Each farm undergoes an annual inspection to maintain its Certified Humane® status, which includes an evaluation of the goats’ diet, social conditions, shelter and resting areas, access to outdoors, veterinary care, and milking procedures.

What do your goats eat?

By nature, goats are browsers (like deer) and not grazers like cows and sheep. Our dairy goats are fed a balanced diet, which is full of nutrients, and free of antibiotics, hormones, animal by-products, or preservatives. Their diet consists of about 70% fibers, which includes brush, leaves, almond hulls, and hay, such as oat or alfalfa hay. The other 30% of their vegetarian diet consists of a variety of grains, which may include safflower meal, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn, and soy depending on the mix.

Are your goats treated humanely?

In 2005, Redwood Hill Farm became the first goat dairy in the United States to become Certified Humane®. Today, every farm that supplies goat milk to Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery undergoes an annual audit in order to maintain Certified Humane® status. Certified Humane® is a rigorous animal welfare certification awarded by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), an independent, third-party nonprofit organization based in Virginia.

The program is designed to empower consumers to buy food products with the confidence that they came from a farm with high standards for animal welfare. By certifying products with the Certified Humane® logo, consumers are given a choice. The goal is to improve the lives of farm animals in food production by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.

The animal welfare standards for Certified Humane® were created by a Scientific Committee comprised of 40 scientists and veterinarians from all over the world.  For goats, requirements include:

  • Animals must receive a nutritious diet free of antibiotics or hormones. They must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space that are sufficient to support their natural behavior.
  • Goats, unlike sheep or cattle, do not tolerate rain or wind. Therefore, adequate shelter must be provided at all times to protect them from inclement weather.
  • Being social and gregarious animals, goats must be housed within sight or sound of goats or other animals.
  • Milking, shearing or and clipping procedures must meet HFAC standard.

If you are interested in reading the complete standard for dairy goats, click here.

Are you non-GMO verified?

At Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery we are deeply concerned with the widespread use of GMOs in our food system, and we fully support efforts to provide GMO transparency through labeling. None of the ingredients we use in our goat milk yogurt, kefir, or cheese (such as sugar, vanilla, cultures, and fruit) contain GMOs. We require that our suppliers provide us with specifications that ensure the ingredients’ non-GMO status.

Unfortunately, we are unable to source non-GMO feed for our goats at this time, due to the limited availability and oftentimes cost prohibitive nature of this feed. The goats receive most of their nutrition (approximately 70%) from hay and brush. The other 30% of their diet comes from a nutritious, vegetarian grain formula that typically includes safflower meal, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn, and soy depending on the mix. The feed contains no hormones, antibiotics, animal by-products, or preservatives.

Some of the farms we work with are very small and located in remote areas and they rely on the availability of feed at their local feed stores. The composition of the grain mix varies from farm to farm, depending on price and seasonal availability, and purchasing non-GMO feed is not always an option.

As soon as we find that sourcing non-GMO goat feed becomes feasible and economically viable (and we very much hope it will), we will take steps to explore non-GMO certification.

Are you organic?

Our products are not certified organic, however we take great care to use humane and environmentally sensitive practices, including using 100% renewable energy at our creamery and requiring that all our supplying farms be Certified Humane®.

There are very specific reasons that make organic certification challenging for goat dairies. First, under the organic “Pasture Rule,” animals must receive at least 30% of their nutrition from grazing on pasture. This rule was developed with cows in mind, but is applied to all ruminant dairy animals. Because goats are by nature browsers (like deer) and not pasture grazers (like cows or sheep), it is not feasible for for farms meet this standard. While our goats do have ample access to pasture, given the choice they will eat bushes, brush, hay, and leafy branches.

Second, we are unable to source GMO-free feed for our goats at this time, due to the limited availability and oftentimes cost prohibitive nature of this feed. However, we do make a point to ensure that none of the ingredients we use in our yogurt or kefir (such as sugar, vanilla, cultures, and fruit) contain GMOs. We require that our suppliers provide us with specifications that ensure the ingredients’ non-GMO status.

Finally, if a goat becomes sick, our farms will treat them with antibiotics if directed by a veterinarian. We care about our goats, many of whom are award-winning animals, too much to let them succumb to a curable infection. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics (e.g. to promote growth or feed efficiency) is strictly prohibited under the Certified Humane standards. If a goat ever requires medication, we discard the milk long after the recommended time and we test the milk to ensure no drugs enter the human food chain.

FAQ: Goat Milk Nutrition

What are the differences between goat milk and cow milk?

There are key nutritional differences between cow milk and goat milk that make goat milk easier for many people to digest:

  • The average size of the fat globules in goat milk is smaller than in cow milk and forms a smaller, softer curd in the stomach. This allows stomach enzymes to break down the curds faster, making it more easily digestible.1
  • Unlike cow milk, goat milk is “naturally homogenized”, meaning that the cream does not separate when left to settle. Goat milk dairy is less processed because we don’t need to perform the extra step of homogenization.
  • Approximately 7% of children in the U.S. have symptoms of cow milk allergy, which can be attributed to reactions to alpha S1 casein or whey proteins in milk. Depending on the breed, goat milk contains negligible levels of alpha S1 casein. Research studies suggest that 40% or more of patients allergic to cow milk tolerate goat milk well.1
  • Goat milk contains significantly higher levels of short and medium-chain fatty acids than cow milk (this is also what gives goat milk its unique and delicious flavor). Research suggests that these fatty acids are more rapidly digested, providing quick energy for the body.1
  • Goat and cow milk both contain many important vitamins and minerals. Goat milk is higher in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C than whole cow milk. It contains less vitamin B-12, folate, selenium, and riboflavin than cow milk.

Many people also prefer the flavor of goat milk to cow milk. It has a grassy, earthy, sweet flavor that is simply delicious. We use only the freshest milk possible, resulting in a clean and mild flavor, without the “goatiness” some people associate with goat products. Give it a try and see why more people in the world drink goat milk than any other milk!

Does goat milk contain lactose?

Goat milk naturally contains slightly less lactose than cow milk, and is therefore not lactose free. Our goat milk yogurts and kefirs both contain about 2% lactose, compared to 4.9% in whole cow milk.1

We do produce lactose-free yogurt, kefir, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter made with organic cow milk under our sister brand, Green Valley Organics. Visit greenvalleylactosefree.com to learn more.

Does goat milk contain casein or whey?

Casein is a natural protein found in all milk.  Some people have an intolerance or allergy to casein—especially alpha s1 casein, which occurs in high levels in most cow milk. Goat milk is generally lower in alpha S1 casein and often contains a higher percentage of alpha s2 casein, depending on the breed.2 Casein comprises 70-80% of the proteins in goat milk; whey proteins account for the other 20-30%. Whey contains many of the important nutrients in yogurt and kefir that aid in muscle development and support the body’s immune response.2

If you have been diagnosed with a milk protein allergy, goat milk may not be right for you. It is important that you consult your physician or health provider before making any dietary changes.

1 Park, Young W. “Goat Milk—Chemistry and Nutrition.” Handbook of Non-Bovine Mammals, edited by Young W. Park and George F.W. Haenlein, Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

2Elizabeth A. Maga, Dairy Goat Production Handbook, American Institute for Goat Research (2016)