Lactose-free cheeses: here are those suitable for intolerants
Today we talk about lactose-free cheeses and find out together which ones are best for those with this problem. Lactose intolerance is increasingly widespread: almost 30% of the population suffers from it! This ailment should not be confused with an allergy to milk protein: those who are lactose intolerant do not produce the enzyme “lactase”, which is used to digest it.
Intolerance, unlike an allergy, is linked to the amount of milk consumed and comes in various forms, from the lightest to the most severe: there are those who simply find milk “not easy to digest”, and those who when they consume it is experiencing much heavier symptoms. In any case, being lactose intolerant does not mean giving up cheeses, on the contrary!
Lactose-free cheeses: what does it mean?
Lactose-free cheeses are called delactosed: they are produced like other cheeses, but the milk contained in them is added to the enzyme lactase, which is used to split lactose into the two sugars that make it up (glucose and galactose) and make it digestible even to intolerant.
Remember one important thing, which many do not know: lactose is not present in all cheeses.
Lactose intolerant can consume hard and extra-hard cheeses without problems because they are subjected to a long seasoning. During the latter, lactose is transformed into lactic acid, therefore these types of cheese contain zero lactose quantities.
There are many kinds of cheese without lactose: let’s have fun discovering how they are prepared and what they are!
PDO Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO can be defined as lactose-free and can, therefore, be consumed without problems by all intolerants, when subjected to long seasonings.
For example, Malandrone 1477, “Parmigiano Reggiano Export” which comes from the mountains of Frignano, near Modena, from the milk of Friesian cows fed with the spontaneous herbs of the area, is subjected to very long seasonings: if the normal Parmigiano Reggiano rarely exceeds the seasoning of 36 months, Malandrone 1477 matures its cheese for over 120 months.
After all this time we challenge anyone to find traces of lactose in it! There are also other cheeses that can be consumed in moderation, always if subjected to long ageing:
- Emmenthal or Gruyere
- Grana Padano
- Very seasoned pecorino
- Smoked and sweet provolone
- The tolerated quantity of the aforementioned cheeses varies from person to person, therefore it is advisable to try small portions of them in order to evaluate their degree of tolerability.
But it does not end here: the breakdown of lactose is favoured by the activity of some bacteria. Cheeses rich in lactic acid bacteria (which have the ability to break down lactose) can be well tolerated even if lactose is still present. This depends on our degree of intolerance.
The cheeses that the intolerant can still try to eat are:
- Milk cream
- Taleggio cheese
Cheeses to avoid and lactose-free variants
Unfortunately, fresh soft cheeses, not seasoned, and obtained by acid coagulation, contain high percentages of lactose; for this reason, they cannot be taken by intolerants:
- Milk flakes
- Cheese spreads
- Mozzarella cheese
- Cow or sheep ricotta
Fortunately, there are versions of these cheeses on the market, obtained with a process by which the lactase enzyme, obtained from yeast, is added and which breaks down the milk into the 2 simple sugars that compose it.
The only small drawback is that the latter has a higher sweetening power, and therefore the cheeses prepared with this procedure can be slightly sweeter.
As you can see, if you are lactose intolerant, you will not have to give up cheeses at all, but you just have to be careful of “which” to eat from now on!