John Bittner has raised goats for years, but only last year did he begin to fulfill one of his life-long dreams -- making and selling goat's milk fudge at a commercial level.
Bittner and his wife, Joyce, owners of the llama ranch on Fossil Creek Road, now operate the Strawberry Fudge Factory.
"We use less than a gallon of goat's milk to make a batch of fudge," he said. "There is no ‘goat taste' to it."
A batch makes 20 two-pound units of fudge in three flavors: chocolate fudge, chocolate with walnuts and peanut butter.
"There is no strawberry fudge, that's just the name of the town," Bittner jokes. However, he has plans to expand the flavors eventually.
The fudge is available for sale from the Bittners' home by appointment and soon it will be on e-Bay. But area residents and visitors can find it at a number of locations in the Rim country and elsewhere in Arizona.
The Strawberry Fudge Factory products can be found at Sav Mor Foods, Back to Basics, The Randall House and Strawberry Market. It also is sold in markets in Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood, Fountain Hills and Tempe, with more distribution points being added all the time.
"Ever since I have had property in Strawberry, my dream has been to be on a street corner with a tent cover, a cooler and a sign saying ‘Goat-milk Fudge' and I'm now doing that," he said.
He can be found outside The Randall House selling his fudge, but he does not frequent many of the area's festivals. He participates in the Strawberry Festival and a few special events to which he is invited.
Bittner uses the commercial kitchen at The Randall House to make the fudge. He has a herd of seven goats right now, with three for milking.
"They produce about 2-1/2 gallons a day," he said.
The milk not used for fudge is used for drinking, making yogurt, kefir and cheese for the Bittners' personal consumption.
He is a big advocate of goat's milk.
"More people over the world use goat's milk than cow's milk, especially those who are self-contained," he said. "It's easier to maintain a goat than it is a cow. The molecules of goat's milk are smaller and easier to digest than those in cow's milk."
He said the smaller molecules also contribute to making a very smooth fudge.
While Bittner's profession is real estate sales, the Strawberry Fudge Factory is a profitable hobby. Together, he and his wife handle sales and distribution, and his additional tasks include caring for the goats, milking them, cooling the milk, making and packaging the fudge.
The new flavors are something they have in the future, but before that, they are going to change their packaging and also develop gift boxes for Christmas, Valentine's and birthdays.
For more information call (928) 476-5178 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.