Does Evaporated Milk Have Lactose?

Question: Does evaporated milk have lactose?

Answer: Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. People with lactose intolerance or lactose sensitivity have trouble digesting lactose in dairy products. These people lack or are in short supply of lactase. Lactase helps break down lactose to make it easier to digest. The inability to properly digest lactose can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea (loose stool), vomiting, and nausea.

Milk is naturally made of a large portion of water. It contains about 88 percent water. Evaporated milk is produced by heating regular milk to evaporate approximately 60 percent of its water content.

Evaporated milk does have lactose. According to The Really Big List of Lactose Percentages, it contains about 10-11 percent lactose. In comparison, a dairy product that can be tolerated by most people, even those with lactose intolerance, has a lactose percentage under 2 percent. Some examples of low lactose dairy products are cheddar cheese, muenster cheese, and sherbet. While the tolerance of lactose can vary widely, generally, evaporated milk is difficult to tolerate for many people with lactose issues.

If you are ambitious, you can make your own lactose-free evaporated milk by using Lactaid milk. Lactaid is regular milk with lactase added as an ingredient. The lactase breaks down the natural lactose to make a 100 percent lactose-free milk.

Simply add 2 to 3 cups of Lactaid whole milk to a pan and simmer it until the liquid is reduced by half. The heating process will make a lactose-free condensed milk with a light caramel flavor. We searched for commercially available evaporated milk, but it doesn’t appear that there are any products out there.

Photo Credit: K.B.R.

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