Dairy Yes, Lactose No
December 30, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Are there other brands of dairy cheese that use the same or similar process as Finlandia to make their cheese lactose-free?

According to this FAQ, Finlandia uses a specific manufacturing process to make their cheeses "naturally" lactose-free (as opposed to, for example, adding lactase).

Are there any other brands of cheese that use the same or a similar process to make "naturally" lactose-free cheese and/or other dairy products (such as yogurt)?
posted by Dansaman to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Certain Cabot cheeses:

During the cheese-making process, the microbial-based enzymes coagulate milk into curds and whey. The whey, which contains most of the lactose, is drained from the curds. The curds are then pressed into cheese. If any residual lactose remains in the cheese, it will be completely broken down within 3 to 4 weeks.
posted by griphus at 8:20 PM on December 30, 2012

Sounds like Finlandia (and Cabot) is using a fact of most cheeses for marketing. Almost all lactose in cheese is consumed by bacteria in the aging process. The older and harder the cheese is, the less lactose it has. I've read various estimates for how long it takes for cheese to become lactose-free, from three months to two years.
posted by mokin at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

Mokin has it. The vast majority of hard cheeses naturally contain too little lactose to be a concern for people who are lactose intolerant.

I don't know Finlandia well, but all the Cabot cheeses I've ever seen would fall under the category of hard cheeses (cheddar, colby, jack, and the like). Looking at Finlandia's website, they seem to mostly do swiss, gouda, muenster, and stuff like that, which also is probably not going to be a problem for lactose intolerant people.
posted by Sara C. at 8:38 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

> According to this FAQ, Finlandia uses a specific manufacturing process to make their cheeses "naturally" lactose-free (as opposed to, for example, adding lactase).

What they do that is different, really, is measure the lactose content and tell you all about how they can guarantee it.

The special process they use is called "making an aged cheese."
posted by desuetude at 11:35 PM on December 30, 2012

Most aged cheeses don't have lactose.

To double-check, I check the nutrition label for sugar and carb content. Lactose is a sugar. If it says 0 grams of sugars, 0 carbs, I consider it safe to eat. I'm very lactose intolerant and this hasn't failed me.
posted by jetsetlag at 2:02 AM on December 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Right, I've had this discussion with several people who are lactose-intolerant. At this point, I believe it to be either psychosomatic (because the amount of lactose present in, say, Edam is so vanishingly small as to be irrelevant) or that they actually have an allergy to some cows milk protein rather than a digestive intolerance to lactose.

As for yogurt, I should note that it is possible to make yogurt from lactose-free milk. If you can't find one you like, you can always make your own!
posted by 1adam12 at 2:08 AM on December 31, 2012

You may be interested in some of the resources and guidelines from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a very strict diet used to treat GI issues that allows dairy but absolutely no lactose (among many other restrictions, but this question is about dairy). Per the responses above which are dead on, any hard aged cheese is legal on the SCD. Uncreamed cottage cheese, also called farmer cheese, also called dry curd cottage cheese is also legal and virtually free of lactose.

Regarding commercially available yogurt, Fage and Chobani are very low in lactose (without the addition of lactase), but beware of some other brands of greek yogurt (e.g. Oikos I believe) which, rather than straining to thicken, actually add milk powder, resulting in a higher than usual lactose content.

If you want truly lactose free yogurt, I would recommend trying your hand at making your own yogurt at home. Most recipes call for a 4-8 hour fermentation, but if you extend the fermentation to 24-48 hours, your active live cultures consume virtually all of the lactose (and it's perfectly safe). The resulting yogurt is super tart (there's no lactose left to make it sweet!) but I find it really delicious. Lots of information here.
posted by telegraph at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just be aware that reading the nutrition label on commercial yogurt for carbs/sugar won't work like with cheese -- almost all yogurt (except plain) have lots of added sugar (eg all your fruit/fruit on the bottom types, etc have sugar added to sweeten the sour yogurt.)
posted by k5.user at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2012

Yeah, most dry aged cheeses are pretty low in general lactose. An issue is that a lot of (american at least) companies will add extra whey, which brings it back up. Finlandia monitors the lactose content closely and omits the weird step of adding extraneous dairy products.

It really depends on how lactose intolerant you are, I guess. I can't tolerate stuff like greek yogurt, despite everyone insisting that I can and it's all in my head. (pro tip: the problem is actually in my genes and in my butt.)

Also, seconding superfermented homemade yogurt. SO SOUR OM NOM.
posted by elizardbits at 8:07 AM on December 31, 2012


Most people who are lactose intolerant to bovine milk (cow milk) can drink goat milk and eat goat cheese without issue. The lactose in goat milk is smaller (like it is in human milk) and is easier for us to digest. Some animals like deer can die if they are fed cow milk.

If you are able to get goat milk from a reputable dairy (or local farmer) it should taste just like cow milk, just a little richer (some breeds have a 6% butterfat content). If they feed the animals nice hay, you get good milk. From the milk, any cheese that can be made from cow milk, can be make with goat milk. Most people however, make soft cheeses with it.

Most people who are "lactose intolerant" are just intolerant to milk from the wrong species. Think about it, nothing in the design of a human was made to drink milk that cows make to feed ~their~ young. We are made to drink the milk from our mothers. One of the closest things to human milk, is goat milk.

I am not a doctor so check with whomever you want to for more information. We have been raising animals, including dairy goats, for years. My wife started when she was seven, 40 years ago. We have a goat dairy and supply milk to the local area for human consumption and to several wildlife rescue organizations. We have fed everything from deer to elk, from sugar gliders to camels, from horses to dogs to ferrets, etc.

p.s. Goat milk ice cream is very good!
posted by Leenie at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2012

Another FYI:

Some people are allergic to certain proteins in milk. You may not be lactose intolerant, just allergic to the milk proteins in cow milk. Again, try another type of milk.
posted by Leenie at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2012

I'm not actually sure how they do it, but Green Valley claims to be naturally lactose free and they make yogurt/kefir/etc. I haven't tried them myself (yet) but that's because they've got a limited range (for example, I found them in a Whole Foods in Las Vegas but they don't sell where I live at all).

As for the cheese issue, I agree with what others have said above. I'm very very lactose intolerant and hard cheeses are ok (some soft cheeses are not) simply because of how they are made. If you find yourself having trouble with hard cheese, you may have a whey or casein intolerance or even a true milk allergy.
posted by librarylis at 8:55 PM on January 1, 2013

Green Valley does it by adding lactase.
posted by Dansaman at 12:03 AM on January 2, 2013

« Older Where can I find a complete song list for "In the...   |   Shoe shopping for Bigfoot! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.