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Lactose-free cream substitutes?

Allison_ | Dec 26, 200806:18 PM     19

Hi everyone - I'm new here. Lovely to meet you all!

I'm lactose intolerant. I have been since infancy, which isn't usually much of a burden. Unlike many people who become lactose-intolerant late in life, I can't really eat any lactose - a bit of milk in tea is enough to make me ill for the rest of the day.

I routinely cook with lactose-free milk and soy milk. I can eat cultured butter, many cheeses, and real yogurt. (Here's a great little essay explaining the lactose content of most foods: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/eke... It's useful reading, since apparently much of the world is lactose intolerant, whether they know it or not.)

When I really want to eat a creamy cheese, or ice cream, I take lactase supplement pills so that I can digest it. But usually, I like to cook things that I can just eat without worrying about expensive digestive enzymes. Also, the enzymes don't always work.

I am, therefore, on a quest for a no- or low-lactose cream substitute. I'd like something that I could use to make, for example, caramel - that cranberry almond caramel tart from Smitten Kitchen has really caught my eye. I've also been pining after pasta with tomato cream sauce. Here are some avenues I've considered.

1. You can't buy lactose-reduced cream, so that's out of the question. Some places, you can buy actual lactase enzyme to add to milk yourself, and I've thought of adding it to cream, but I wonder if the same proportions would work? The amount of lactose - sugar - in milk and cream must be different. Also, lactase enzyme is getting more and more difficult to buy, as lactose-free milk proliferates.

2. There are soy-based cream substitutes, basically oil emulsified into soy milk. These taste good in coffee, in my experience, but I'm worried about how they would behave when cooked.

3. I'm wondering if I could put together some hybrid of lactose-free milk and another low-lactose dairy product, like yogurt, goat's cheese, cultured butter or cultured sour cream? Is that crazy?

4. I wonder if folks interested in low-fat cooking might have some tricks for avoiding cream in creamy recipes. I have to admit, though, that I'm a bit skeptical about the tastiness of low-fat cooking.

5. What sort of recipes can handle milk substituted for cream? I just made some quiche which I had heard might not turn out without cream, but it was just fine. I wonder if, in some cases, I could substitute milk and then up the fat content in some other way, perhaps with melted butter or oil. I guess this is sort of a repeat of #3.

Any thoughts?

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