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Part of my unending series of ice cream related questions: I’m mildly lactose intolerant and usually don’t have a lot of upset from a small amount of ice cream. (Especially since cream is naturally lower in lactose.) While lactose-free milk is widely available here, LF anything else is harder to find and/or overpriced. In particular regarding ice cream making, evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk aren’t available LF, and due to what they are have whopping amounts of lactose.

Can these or the cooked base be pre-treated using the lactase pills I keep around to make them lactose free? And how would I go about this re: heating or time required?

(I suppose a possible hack would be using a matching flavour of whey isolate powder, the stuff used for protein shakes after workouts, but I’m still curious about breaking up the lactose in regular dairy.)

  • Is coconut milk available where you are? I've had some very good coconut milk sorbet. (Ciao Bella was the most memorable, but that might've been because they were the first one I had ... but they also published a cookbook) – Joe Aug 26 at 21:12
  • I’m familiar with the workarounds; and there’s nothing stopping me from just taking the pill except forgetfulness. But you can’t make dulce de leche from coconut milk, or say fior di latte gelato. (Me and a friend wanted to visit a touristy organic dairy farm so I figured I might grab some high end milk and cream and make something highlighting the flavour of dairy specifically.) And it’d definitely be more convenient to have the peace of mind that the ice cream in the freezer is safe as-is. – millimoose Aug 26 at 21:27
  • I will however look at coconut milk sorbet to pair with jasmine tea sorbet at least. Although looking at the recipes it looks like I’ll be posting my umpteenth question about stabilizers. – millimoose Aug 26 at 21:27
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    Not quite an answer, but lactose-free milk tastes quite different from regular milk - because the lactase converts the lactose into glucose and galactose, it's considerably sweeter. I've attempted to make various milk-based recipes with lactose-free milk with mixed results. Pudding, for instance, is fine. Béchamel was pretty bad. – Juhasz Aug 26 at 23:04
  • NileRed tried this on youtube: youtube.com/watch?v=wYyqZWWU9GU Seemed fine to him – Cam.Davidson.Pilon Sep 1 at 19:03
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Ways to make lactose-free dairy at home

  • Grind your lactase pills into powder, dissolve them in warm water, and dump the solution into your milk. Wait 24-48 hours.
  • More convenient is to add 7 drops of liquid Lactase. Wait 24-48 hours and 70% of the lactose is gone.
  • More economical is to buy bulk lactase powder. Dissolve it in warm water and pour it into your milk. Wait 24-48 hours.
  • Another economical option is half-making yogurt. The yogurt bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) eat the lactose. I pour a gallon of milk into a pot inside another pot of water. Heat the milk to 185°F for 30 minutes. Then cool the pot of milk to 110° in cold water in the kitchen sink. Pitch the milk with 2-3 Tbsp. of plain fresh yogurt with "active cultures" and pour the milk back into the milk jug. Put the jug of milk into a food dehydrator (or anything else with good temperature control) and incubate at 104° for 3-4 hours. At that point you'll have slightly thickened milk. Shake it and use like normal. After 7 hours incubation you'll have yogurt. Strain off the whey and you'll have greek yogurt. Both have whey less lactose in them.

All these techniques will dramatically reduce the lactose in milk.

Fun Tips

  • Adjust the flavor of the milk-gurt by playing with the temperature. Lactobacillus bulgaricus prefers 110° and the other two prefer 99°. The different resulting acids (lactic, folic, formic) affect the flavor.
  • Yogurt bacteria break down lactose into acids. You can test the acidity to roughly determine how much lactose has been consumed.
  • The higher the acidity, the longer the treated milk will last.
  • You can mix-n-match, half-making yogurt and then adding lactase to the result.
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