How to make your own lactose-free milk for $2.67 per gallon

Lactase enzyme

Okay, that is a cruel teaser as many of you may not be able to purchase normal milk for less than $3.00 per gallon. Around here it varies from just under $1.90 on sale up to $2.50. Lately it has been about $2.00. The cost to convert the gallon to lactose-free milk is only $0.67 per gallon. If you want to know how to do this right now and don’t care for a lot of details click here and scroll down to the section, “How to make your own lactose-free milk.

Over the last decade my husband Joshua has realized that he is lactose intolerant. At first we didn’t know why he was having digestive issues (he denied even having a problem!) but over a period of time we began to realize his cramping and other symptoms were typically after consuming milk. After some experimentation we determined that when Joshua would forgo the consumption of milk products containing lactose the symptoms went away.

Joshua tried some of the lactase pills, both the daily and meal-time solutions, with unfavorable results. Due to the cost of lactose-free milk, Joshua decided to avoid consuming milk in general and when indulging ice cream to buy the Breyer’s brand lactose-free ice cream. This worked for a while, but over the years we began including more milk products into our diet and we began buying lactose-free milk -- especially as Joshua started enjoying a homemade mocha frappuccino most mornings!

Our food budget cried.

While it was nice for Joshua to re-introduce milk into his diet, lactose-free milk is about $8-$9 per gallon in our area. This is compared to $2 per gallon for normal milk! The 4-fold mark up is ridiculous!

Leave it to my husband: he started researching a way to make his own lactose-free milk!

The following is some background information on lactose, lactose intolerance, and the lactase enzyme.

Note: Statistics for the following were obtained from the Wikipedia’s article on lactose intolerance. Please consult that article or a trusted resource for a fuller overview of lactose intolerance.

What is Lactose?

Sugars are the basic building blocks to starches and carbohydrates. Familiar sugars include sucrose (common table sugar), fructose, and glucose as well as sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol. Lactose is another common sugar and is often called “milk sugar” because it is most often found in milk products. Cow and goat milk are about 5% lactose whereas human milk is about 9% lactose. Fermented products like yogurt, kefir, and some aged cheeses have significantly less lactose than milk has.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Before discussing lactose intolerance it is helpful to understand how the body usually processes lactose sugars. When a person ingests dairy products the dairy enters the stomach and small intestine. It is here where the body releases the lactase enzyme that breaks the lactose sugars down and they are absorbed into the blood stream for utilization.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to properly digest lactose. This intolerance is due to the lack of sufficient amounts of the lactase enzyme in the digestive track to break down the lactose sugars in the small intestine. The undigested lactose sugars pass into the colon where the natural bacteria digest these sugars which causes the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is an interesting condition because it becomes more common as people age. Scientist believe it is a “weaning” mechanism where the body gradually stops producing lactase as a person’s diet changes from milk to solids. In some countries lactose intolerance is very rare (5%) among adults while in others it affects over 90% of adults.

It is worth noting that lactose intolerance is not equivalent to a milk allergy where the body’s immune system reacts to the milk proteins.

How does Lactase help?

Someone who is lactose intolerance is unable to produce enough, if any, lactase by themselves. The introduction of the lactase enzyme into foods prior to consumption or at the time of consumption aids in this process, avoiding the side effects of lactose intolerance.

Nutritionally, dairy products that are lactose-free are identical to the non-processed forms. Lactose-free products are slightly sweeter because the lactase enzyme breaks down (“pre-digests”) the lactose sugars into the more digestible forms (like glucose). While there is no additional sugar in the product it tastes sweeter because glucose is nearly five times sweeter than lactose

Lactase enzyme

How to make your own lactose free milk:

Let’s do some simple math:

1 gallon of milk is about $2.00

1 gallon of lactose-free milk in the store is $7.98 ($8.98 for the national brand)

We can buy 4 gallons of “normal” milk for every gallon of lactose free milk. Ouch.

The good news? You can cut that cost in half — if not more — by making your own lactose-free milk. Here is how:

Materials:

1 gallon of milk

Lactase drops, extra strength

Instructions:

1. Open fresh milk carton / container.

2. Add lactase drops. (This brand requires 56 drops.) Replace lid and shake the carton of milk.

3. Place milk carton back into the refrigerator.

4. Allow to process. (This brand requires 24 hours.)

5. Enjoy!

Savings: How to cut your lactose free milk budget in half, or more!

We were able to purchase the lactase drops for $16 on Amazon.com. It is recommended to use 56 drops to make 1 gallon of lactose free milk after 24 hours of time. Following these instructions we are able to produce at least 12 gallons of lactose free milk. To a $2.00 gallon of milk we add $1.33 worth of enzymes ($16.00 of enzymes makes 12 gallons), resulting in a total cost of $3.33 per gallon of lactose-free milk.

$3.33 a gallon for homemade lactose-free milk is significantly cheaper than paying $7.98 - $8.98 at the store. In fact, our homemade lactose free milk is cheaper than a single half gallon of the store bought stuff!

To put it into perspective, using the lactase drops, we pay $39.96 for 12 gallons of homemade lactose-free milk. We were paying $95.76 for the store brand lactose-free milk. That is a savings of $55.80. Joshua was going through about 12 gallons every 3 months, so the annual savings are over $200.00!

And it gets better. We emphasized “at least” above because, depending on the time the enzyme is allowed to work and your tolerance level, you may be able to make significantly more lactose free milk per bottle of lactase. This is because enzymes are not “used up” in the process converting lactose to other sugars. This is why there is a processing time, as this is not a direct chemical reaction/conversion of lactase to other sugars. Instead, the lactase enzyme slowly converts the sugars. The speed by which this occurs is dependent upon temperature, acidity (pH), concentration, and other factors.

You can stretch your lactase enzymes by adding fewer drops to your milk and allowing more time for the enzymes to work. It is as simple as that.

Lactase enzyme

Furthermore, many people aren’t outright lactose-intolerant but don’t produce enough lactase to digest all the lactose they consume. You may be able to add less lactase to meet your specific needs. Many people report slowly lowering the amount of enzymes added over time and when symptoms appear go back to the level they were comfortable with. (Only do this if you are able to tolerate the side effects; this is not recommended to those with severe symptoms.) We are in the process of reducing the amount of enzymes we use but due to the difficulty in directly testing lactose it is difficult to relate whether the amount of time is sufficient to remove all lactose or the amounts left is tolerable by Joshua. This means you will have to do your own testing to see how much enzyme your milk will require.

That said, so far by allowing the enzyme and milk to work additional days Joshua has cut the lactase enzymes in half (28 drops per gallon). Our current cost for making homemade lactose-free milk? $2.67 per gallon.

I cannot believe we used to pay $8 per gallon... and had no idea that this "homemade" option even existed!

Making our own is also convenient, as Joshua can now use non-fat milk, 2%, or whole milk., in whatever amounts we wish (a cup, a gallon, or anything in between!). He usually uses non-fat but on the rare occasion he eats dry cereal at home he likes whole milk. But what if none is made ahead? Not a problem, as you add enough drops for “immediate consumption.” Ditto ice cream. And he loves ice cream. He only needs to take a handful of drops and he is set to consume normal ice cream. He had a hard time with the lactase tablets but the drops have been a much more enjoyable experience.

Some final notes on using lactose-free milk:

Beyond being sweeter, we have found that lactose-free milk is foamier when mixed and blended. Some report this makes for great espresso products where foamed milk is used. We have had a couple blender recipes not turn out because of this. Blueberries and lactose-free milk (in a smoothie) seem to be a bad combo for us.

It is also worth noting that various lactase enzyme products contain different concentrations of lactase enzyme. The one we purchase is listed as “extra strength” and has almost 2000 IUs per serving size. This will be important to note when switching products.

Finally, some desperate folks use the lactose-free milk to convert their normal milk. As the milk still contains the enzymes used to make it lactose-free, the lactose-free milk is used instead of drops, as the source of lactase enzymes. If lactase enzymes are unavailable to you, this may be a way to save a little money. If you can tolerate some lactose, try mixing equal proportions and allow it to sit for a few days and give it a try.

Lactose-free milk

Note from Tammy: Many thanks to Joshua for his research and help with this article! A year ago, we didn't know this option existed. If you or someone in your family requires lactose-free milk, making your own will save you substantial amounts of money at the grocery store! :)

Visit Jessica's blog for more frugal tips!

Comments

My son was mildly lactose intolerant until he was about 5 and then slowly he started to be able to be better with it. Still, if he has too much milk in one day, he has some issues.

Thanks for the info. Tammy. I am wondering if this would work for me. I have stopped drinking milk because I am nursing and it seems to make my daughter very fussy when I drink it. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks again.

I am not an expert in milk allergies, but it is necessary to note that a milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance. Human milk contains lactose -- and quite a bit of it, too.

Making lactose-free milk will not make the milk safe to drink if there is a milk allergy present. :) I've not done enough research about milk sensitivities in nursing infants to even give helpful suggestions; definitely discuss it with a doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant! :)

I just wanted to confirm Tammy's note on the milk allergy thread. If you have a milk allergy (a milk allergy is COMPLTELY different than a lactose intolerance), please do not try this method. Those with milk allergies will typically be allergic to not only the lactose, but also the casein and whey that are naturally present in ALL dairy products (and even some products that claim to be vegan or dairy-free!). Tammy is absolutely correct in stating that removing the lactose from the milk will not remove the allergens from the product, so the product will still not be safe to drink. For those with infants who think their baby might have an allergy, please take your child to an allergist to be tested thoroughly.

My husband was diagnosed with a milk allergy as a baby and has not outgrown it. Several substitutions can be made for the little ones who might have a potential allergy. But if you suspect an allergy, to avoid potential respiratory distress and a visit to the ER, it would be safest to visit your pediatrician AND ALLERGIST before trying new milk formulas/products on your child.

most babies are sensitive to milk protein which is different from lactose.

However, drinking high-quality unpasteurized, unhomogenized organic milk (raw milk) CAN help with nursing! I speak from experience; my daughter's acid reflux, gas, etc (read-- screaming fits) was horribly increased when I consumed pasteurized milk products. Conversely, they were wonderfully reduced when I (we) had real milk. So much of our processed milk is tainted, damaged, contaminated, and chemically altered via processing.

Check out http://www.realmilk.com/

You'll also be getting super-high quality milk as only the best is safe to drink raw. It's around $4/ half-gallon here.

--Christina

No, drinking lactose free milk won't help a nursing baby. Human breastmilk contains lactose, and it's incredibly rare for an infant to be lactose intolerant. It does happen, but it's a disease called galactosemia, and it causes severe symptoms such as jaundice. Babies who have it cannot be nursed at all.

On the other hand, milk allergies are the most common allergies for babies in the US. Most will outgrow it at some point, but a visit to an allergist might be in order. A baby who reacts to dairy through breastmilk is a baby who might have a severe, life-threatening reaction if he ever consumes dairy directly.

Both of my children were allergic to milk as infants. The only way for me to stop their allergic reactions was to stop eating anything with dairy in it until I stopped nursing when they were one (thankfuly both kids grew out of it).
Both of my children had blood in their stools which could not be seen by the human eye- maybe you could have pediatrition test your daughter's stool for blood?

Hello - I just wanted to chime in on this one. Both of my children were sensitive to Milk/Dairy products in my diet when I nursed them. I drank Lactose Free Milk and ate Lactose Free Ice cream the entire time I nursed and they had no problems with that milk in my diet. I stayed away from all other cows milk dairy products while nursing.

My first child is totally fine with milk now - but she had to drink Lactose Free milk for about 6 months after weaning.

My 2nd child can tolerate cheese & yogurt now - but no direct milk products.

I know it doesn't make any sense according to research - and believe me, I researched it! But it kept my babies from being fussy.

I wish you the best!

As has already been stated, lactose intolerance is different than a milk protein alergy (which can affect breastfed babies). I, on the other hand, have never heard of it being life-threatening (i'd ask my dr.) My son had this alergy as a baby and has since"outgrown" it. Though he still doesn't seem to digest dairy really well. What I wanted to add is that for VERY sensitive babies (like my son) you also have to cut out all BEEF and not just milk (and butter) as it also contains the same protein....this also requires reading labels on things like ham, sausage, and chips....which often contain milk-derived ingredients. Even my LLL didn't think you needed to take it that far (she just said cut out milk). Thankfully i had a pediatrician who had dealt with nursing alergies in her own kids who was able to help b/c I had an ENORMOUSLY fussy baby for 3 months, before taking care of this issue. (we also used goat's milk when i started weaning him)
-jessica s.

Tammy, I am really dismayed that you haven't even mentioned raw milk as an alternative for lactose-intolerant folks. It contains naturally-occuring LACTASE which breaks down lactose. It also contains numerous other beneficial enzymes, nutrients, and vitamins not found in the white, grocery store poison. There is NOTHING good about pastuerized, homogenized milk.

Please check out westonaprice.org for more information on raw milk, and then perhaps write an article on it. More people need to know about how healthy raw milk is. It's all my kids drink, even though it's expensive. We cut other areas of our budget in order to make room for the top priorities. You really do get what you pay for sometimes! :-)

Thanks, Tammy!

Darlene
djbwain@yahoo.com

Hi Darlene,

I have been trying to find more info on the idea that raw milk contains lactase. Since lactase feeds on lactose, does this mean that raw milk will digest its own lactose over time? Also, the part about where in the digestive process the lactase is needed...

I knew people would tell me "just use raw milk" but I need something more scientific than that, and it seems there is a lot of debate on the raw milk and lactase issue. :)

For the record, we have had both raw goat's milk and raw cow's milk, and I don't have a bias against consuming raw milk. I am sure it is healthier for a person than homogenized and pasteurized milk! I am just not sure it contains lactase. ;)

I really know little about all of this, but my two lactose-intolerant sons (ages 12 and 8)can drink raw cows milk with no symptoms of the gas and cramping they get from pasteurized, homogenized milk from the store. We are considering adding a dairy cow to our livestock for this reason.

Tammy, I am wondering if you read any of the links I provided on the *science* behind raw milk? It absolutely does contain lactase, along with several other digestive enzymes.

And to respond to another comment, I am not a food *snob*, only voicing my opinion, as you just did. :-( Did you know that freshly milled wheat has 70 vitamins and nutrients in it? The *whole wheat* flour you buy at the store has 5? They take out 70, put back 5 synthetic ones, and call it enriched. I am educating myself on the adulteration of our food supply, and it doesn't look good. What they've done to *milk* is sad, and then real milk is demonized.

I look forward to your reply Tammy - this is such an important issue for your readers.

Hi Darlene! :)

Yes, I did read the links you provided on Facebook. :) You are right, raw milk does contain some lactase. :)

From our study of lactose-intolerance and Joshua's personal experience with both raw goat's milk and raw cow's milk, we don't believe that raw milk always "solves" the issue of lactose intolerance.

I don't wish to engage in a debate over raw milk and lactose-intolerance, as that is not the intent or purpose of this article. :)

wow, that's pretty intense for a subject like milk. POISON? ....if it were poison you would die when you drink it. That's like saying white rice contains ABSOLUTELY NOTHING of nutritional value....except there are people that survive on nothing BUT that. maybe not thrive, but survive. Don't be a food snob. Be educated, fine... raw anything has more enzymes than their cooked counterparts, but there are some nutrients that are also only released when certain items are cooked (tomatoes, for instance). cultured dairy has enzymes in it even if it's been pasteurized.

-jessica s.

I'm slightly lactose-sensitive but not intolerant. I can consume dairy products without difficulty but if I drink too much fluid milk in one day it ... uh, gets "windy" in here. I've noticed I have more problems with milk as it gets closer to its expiration date.

Thanks for the tip! If my lactose sensitivity ever gets worse I may have to use this advice.

Very interesting! My son loves milk, but if he has more than a cup, he complains of stomach-ache. I'm definitely going to be looking into this option! Thank you so much for posting this.

I didn't know they had anything like that. I just avoided milk, cause it bothered me. Strangly enough, now that we have our own cows it doesn't affect me like the store bought milk did, so I can use it without much problem. Guess the Raw milk has the good stuff left in that helps be able to digest it better. To bad you can't find a way to buy Raw milk instead of buying it in the store, I wouldn't be surprised if he could handle it without doctoring it...AND it would be ever so much better for everyone. :)

I have a friend who is lactose intolerant and will share this with him!

I did want to share that we drink raw milk too and love it! The farmer we get it from says that people who are lactose intolerant are able to drink his milk. Not sure the research on it, but just wanted to pass that on : )

My family only drinks raw milk, but as far as I know none of us are lactose intolerant, we just like the taste and think that it is healthier.

As far as raw milk having naturally occurring lactase, It does have some. It would probably be similar to mixing some lactose-free milk with regular milk and letting it sit for a while. I don't think it has as much lactase as the lactose-free milk you are describing.

My aunt and uncle own a dairy farm and they sell raw milk too. My aunt said that some of the people who get raw milk from them have mentioned that people who are lactose intolerant are able to tolerate the raw milk better than pasturized milk. This is just word-of-mouth, I haven't read any scientific studies on raw milk or anything.

I do know that enzymes are proteins, so when milk is pasturized (heated to high temps) the enzymes are denatured, and rendered useless. So any naturally occurring lactase is destroyed in the pasturization process.

why not just use almond or soy milk? Obviously your husband's body is trying to tell him it doesn't want dairy. Seems like a lot of work when dairy consumption isn't necessary.

We have used almond milk and soy milk at times. I'm not sure that consuming a lot of soy milk would be healthy, and honestly -- I do not care for almond milk (thankfully I am not lactose-intolerant, anyway!) so I don't fault anyone for wanting to be able to consume cow's milk. :)

From what I know (I am not a health professional!), if a person is lactose-intolerant it is not at all harmful for them to consume lactose-free milk. :)

After Joshua did the research to find out how to make lactose-free milk, the "work" involved is minimal! A few minutes to order the enzyme (lactase drops) and then a couple minutes to add that to a jug of milk and mark the date. Definitely well worth the savings to us!! :)

Thanks for all the discussion. I love lactose free milk, mmmm.

I thought I was lactose intolerant, but never got tested because they make you drink milk and I hate drinking milk. I did when I was a kid but in my teens could not stand milk, I do use it just dont like drinking it plain. However I noticed that I would get sick with whole milk or full-fat diary products. I however was fine with skim or low fat products, so it turns out my problem is I can't digest the fat, I found out 3 yrs ago that I have crohn's and that may be why. I just read that whole milk has less lactose the skim. You can get tested if you want to be sure its a simple test, theres 3 diffrent tests that can be done.

I have Crohn's too (since I was 15, so for about 13 years). I can drink milk but if I have too much dairy my body lets me know by starting to have a flare up. Same thing if I drink to much soda or eat too much junky food.

I think it is great Tammy, that you are finding ways to watch your budget and address issues your family may have. We have 8 children, and the food budget is a big issue in balancing the total financial picture. So finding options that can save money is always a plus. I know for us we do not have options to buy raw milk products at a price that our budget can handle. So, my hats off to you for making things work for your family and your budget.

Thank you for this information, my daughter is lactose intolerant and the pills are not helpful at all to her. I feel foolish for not looking into other options now!

My daughter is lactose intolerant, a bad case. We have to use powderd milk in anything that is for baking. Our lactose free milk here is not to bad. She drinks a half gallon a week. We canot use butter in anything with her. If she eats somthing made with regular milk she gets sick, badly. She is also not alergic to milk. She can not evan have cheese. Terry Anns

Hi,
I am wondering why you don't just drink raw milk? The reason most people are "lactose intolerant" is because the pasturized milk has the needed ingredient that will digest the sugar "destroyed" in the heatig process.

: )

Joshua has tried both raw goat's milk and raw cow's milk, and the symptoms of lactose intolerance continued even then. Neither "cured" his lactose intolerance.
Raw milk does not contain "the needed ingredient that will digest the sugar" for a person who is indeed lactose intolerant (or severely intolerant -- remember, the amount of lactase a person is able to produce can vary). :)
Have you researched lactose intolerance? While I am sure that some people who cannot tolerate pasteurized cow's milk can better tolerate raw cow's milk, I don't believe that lactose intolerance is eliminated when raw milk is used. :)

Hi Tammy,

Great post and Thank you for this information. The savings look like they could be substantial for my family and I am excited to try making lactose free milk at home.

Saryn

One of my pet peeves is that lactose free milk is always ultrapasturized. IMHO, I think this destroys nutrients, so I have always flip flopped over what to do for my oldest son. Sometimes he just wants that real milk taste and rice milk just won't do. I am excited to try your suggestion because then I can add the lactase to our milk.

Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers

I agree, Alea. Also, with making your own lactose-free milk, you can use organic milk or whatever type you prefer! And I so understand just wanting "real" milk at times! :)

OK I have to ask, since I was diagnosed lactose intolerant about 10 years ago. I learned to just avoid milk all together. As when I took the pills I had the normal intolerant issues as well as vomiting. In talking about the reactions to my dr he said, "well that's strange" So I'm curious how your husband reacted to the pills... Maybe I should try the drops. I am also dealing with nursing a 4 month old that must have milk protein issues as if I have ANY dairy his system gets messed up :(

My husband has the same problem with the pills for lactose intolerance. It makes him vomit. Also, my daughter was sensitive to milk products that I ate while I was nursing her.

Tammy thank you soooooooooooo much. My husband has iriitable bowel syndrom and is not supposed to have dairy but we find that lactose-free milk is fine for him, Where i live in Alberta, Canada lactose-free milk is $5 CAD per litre, so as you can imagine it would cost even more than it would for your family!!I can sometimes manage to get it at half price when theres only about a week left as shopperd drugmart mark it down! I just have one question, after you have given the enzyme 24 hours to work, can you freeze it like i would with normal amounts of excess milk? I am so excited about this, because im always telling my husband not to drink too much as he regularly opens the fridge door and downs a load of milk! I want to go purchase lactase right now on amazon and make a big batch, lol, you think it would be ok to use it in ice-cream too?
Thanks again so much!!

I have not tried freezing lactose-free milk, but I think it should be fine! It is like "regular" milk except the lactose is turned to glucose...

We are planning to try homemade ice cream with our lactose-free milk, and soon!! I'll definitely blog about how that goes. :) Joshua is excited, since his lactose-free ice cream options are limited (and expensive) at the store. :)

Thanks for the info. My two year old has the symptoms of lactose-intolerance. I quantify that as he is 2 and can't fully tell me what he is feeling. Ever since he was born he has had digestive issues, and was a very fussy baby. I have read everything I can find out about dairy allergies and lactose intolerance. For us it was just trial and error. I eliminated milk from my diet (while breastfeeding him) and he was a different baby! And still now if he gets too much yogurt, non-soy (or real) cheese, or anything else with too much real/non-treated dairy, he is very fussy, gassy, and has very loose stools (the markers of lactose-intolerance). Living near Chicago, the best we could find was Target brand for $2.79 for 1/2 gallon of milk. National brands are nearing $4 a 1/2 gallon! When my husband lost his job, I applied for my 2 year old to receive WIC benefits-thankfully they didn't question or make me prove the lactose intolerance and I am able to buy lactose-free milk for him with my vouchers. Once we are back on our feet I plan to use this recipe! And I am going to look into the drops as the tablets don't seem to help him with symptoms too much. I reserve their use for when we are out or visiting family/friends whom I don't expect to cook lactose free.

What a great article. I'm glad you added that lactose intolerance is different than milk protein allergy. I will definitely try the drops!

For the nursing mom who commented above, Dr. Jack Newman has helpful info here on the difference between milk protein intolerance in infants and lactose intolerance. Check about halfway down this page.
http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13:colic-in-the-breastfed-baby&catid=5:information&Itemid=17

I have three kids tht are all lactose intolerant and have been from birth! Took 9 years to get them diagnosed, mostly because the main symptom was constipation. That's a rare syptom. I am lactose intolerant too, I thought I had irritable bowel syndrome for YEARS! I love this idea and will be using it hen we return to the US. Right now we live in Gemany where I have so many options! I can get just about anything I want here lactose free, except shredded cheese! Sour Cream, cream cheese an even mozerella! The milk is pretty cheap too, about $1.50 a liter or $4.50 a gallon instead of $12 a gallon for Lactaid on base! I am not looking forward to moving back later this year and the only option for cheese being products made from soy. I really wish Lactose Free proucts were more readily available! Maybe we can expand on this and learan to make our own dairy products from the treated milk!

thank you for the tip.

I'm a big fan of raw milk, I get it as often as I can (it's illegal here in MD unfortunately) but I will say that it affects my lactose-intolerant husband just as much as regular milk. I think it all depends on HOW lactose intolerant you are. We use the lactase drop solution here as well, and the best part (aside from the cost savings) is that you can use them in cottage cheese and ice cream too, and even in other products that are impossible to find in lactose-free versions, like sour cream and ricotta. Thanks for sharing this tip!

I will say that it affects my lactose-intolerant husband just as much as regular milk. I think it all depends on HOW lactose intolerant you are.
We have had the same experience, and I agree -- there are varying degrees of lactose-intolerance. :)

I never knew all this. I used to by the lactaid milk from the store and it was expensive! When my husband ran out of that milk he switched to whole milk that our toddler used because he wanted to eat his cereal that morning and that alone helped him out tremedously. If he starts having digestive issues again I will take your advice and get the drops to convert 'regular' milk into 'lactose-free' milk. Thank you for sharing!

I love homeopathic, homemade, organic, etc things. And I'm not turned off by working to save money and be healthier. But this does seems like a lot of work when there are Lactaid tablets/pills. I don't know about price comparison, but wouldn't those work equally well and be a lot easier? Does anyone know?

I have been lactose intolerant my whole life, but milk and cheese are two of my favorite things so I've had to learn ways to work around it. I ALWAYS have the pills on me (btw - I get a generic brand from Puritan's Pride that works just as well as Lactaid pills but costs 1/3 as much) and take them before I have any dairy products. This works for me for the most part, but the "action" from the pills is happening in the tummy so there are still some effects from the lactose. Whenever I am able to use drops first and have the "action" take place outside the body before consuming the dairy it works INFINITELY better!

Thank you so much for sharing this info! I would not have thought of checking Puritan's Pride for Lactaid pills.

I appreciate your explanation for why the drops are easier on the stomach than just taking the pills. Joshua gets a very upset stomach from the pills!

Thanks for the info! I used to do this when Lactaid also made the drops. They discontinued them years ago, so I have since been suffering budget-wise with buying the already prepared lactose-free milk products. Thanks for letting me know that drops can be purchased online!!!!
-- shareytee at yahoo dot com

Do you know if it does anything to change the expiration date on the milk?

I don't know if it does anything to change the expiration date on the milk, so for now I am assuming that it doesn't change the date. And thus far, our milk has not "gone bad" prematurely from having the drops added.

I need to try freezing some of the lactose-free milk, and see how it tastes after thawing! The less chance of waste, the better! :)

We currently buy 3 (THREE!!!!) types of milk. Whole organic for the baby, whole 2% for my husband, and lactose free (generic, NOT $8/gallon, thats insane!) for me. Never knew these drops existed. I use the pills too but I hate always having to make sure I have some on me and using this lactose free milk is way easier and budget friendly. I think I might just buy the drops bottle and add a drop or two to my coffee (with normal milk in it) and not add it to the gallon itself. Thanks again!

The reason raw milk has lactase in it is because there its bacteria in raw milk and those bacteria are expelling their lactase into the milk as they are eating the milk too. It is not enough lactase to make the raw milk "lactose free", however. Lactase does not naturally occur in the milk itself. Lactase is a digestive enzyme that a life form's digestive system makes.

Lactase is a digestive enzyme that a life form's digestive system makes.
Thanks for the info!

I am lactose intolerant (not extremely severe) and ever since switching to raw milk I haven't had any problems drinking milk. I use to take Lactaid pills whenever I'd eat pizza or other foods with high-cheese content, now I often will just drink a few sips of raw milk with my pizza and it seems to work even better than the Lactaid pills. My dad who is even more lactose intolerant than I am, absolutely loves raw milk and is very much enjoying having pudding again... just because he can. Here's a somewhat long but very interesting and informative video on Raw Milk that completely won me over: http://vimeo.com/13418268

What cheeses do you use on pizza that are high in lactose? Pizza is one of the things Joshua can tolerate pretty well, as mozzarella (and any aged cheeses) are very, very low in lactose. :)

Here in Canada, we have 2 different kinds of mozzarella; used on restaurant pizza. The first in typicial stretch pizza mozz, while the second is a stirred curd mozz (similiar to colby / jack / farmers). Do you know which one is tolerated better?

I have been using the lactase drops now since 01/01/2011 & it is working great. I buy 2 gallons of milk & the 1st one I will use the soonest (24hrs) I put 50 drops, and the one I will use later I put 25 drops because it will have longer to break down. I have also been putting the lactase drops in full fat yogurt for her by the same process, I use a hand mixer to make sure it gets mixed well into the yogurt because the brand I'm using (mountain high) is very thick.

I was super nervous the 1st time I gave her the treated milk considering how bad her reactions are, but I'm very happy to say the drops work great and she has had no reactions.
They also say that you can give the children the drops in water before they eat dairy, but I'm not that brave (I don't want to make her vomit & feel like crap just to try something out)
So so far so good, I'm really happy with this product.

I have a circle of moms account but for some reason it wont let me post. The savings for my family have been huge. I bought this brand & I am using this brand. I know it works because my little one will projectile vomit if I give her any diary product. We are very happy.

Where can you get them from?

You can get the lactase drops from Amazon.com. :)

I am so grateful for you guys sharing this post about the lactase drops, it just simply gonna change our life, my partner is the one intolerant, and we have learned to adjust our lifestyle and cooking habits to it, but now the drops gonna give us so much freedom!! Thanks.

Thanks for this information! I've been wanting to make some ice cream for my daughter and unfortunately can only find lactaid milk and no creamer in my area. I thought maybe using the enzyme would help and came across your blog. This is a big help for me and now I can try and experiment with this to see if I can make some ice cream for my baby (as well as me) because she just has too many problems with regular milk. I have noticed over the last few years that dairy products in my diet have begun to mess with me so maybe this will also help me to consume more dairy in the long run. Oh how I have missed the joys of ice cream in the summer! Thanks again

I've checked onAmazon and they are $19.99 now with $3.50 shipping or something similar. amazon doesn't have but another site does through them.

Anyone buy it from somewhere else? I see there is a powder too. Anyone try that?

Tammy -

Great post. Thank you!

I am the physician who created Lactase Drops and I greatly appreciate you informing others about it.

Not only is using Lactase Drops less expensive than lactose-free milk, it allows people to buy GMO-Free, Organic dairy products that are not otherwise available lactose-free.

We offer quantity discounts on Lactase Drops here:
http://www.seekinghealth.com/lactase-drops-lactase-enzyme.html

We also offer wholesale accounts to health stores, pharmacies and health professionals.

Please do ask your local store to carry Lactase Drops so people can get them easily in their area.

Should you have ANY questions about Lactase Drops, do press the 'Ask a Question' link on the Lactase Drops product page and I or my team will get back to you.

In health,
Dr Ben

In the country where I live, milk is about $4,4 a gallon and lactose-free milk is about $7,20 a gallon. Lactose drops are pretty expensive, so self-made lactose free milk would cost me about $6,60 a gallon.

10350 FCC Units capsule pills cost about $0,20 a pill. So can I just break open the capsules of 5 pills for each gallon of milk and put them in the milk, instead of buying drops?

In my area, NYC, a gallon of regular milk costs 4.20 while a gallon of Lactaid milk costs 7.80. The Lactaid drops cost 20 bucks. The drops also give at most 6 servings per gallon of milk (according to the 56 drops per gallon rule). 20/6 = 3.33, so ultimately, you're paying 4.20 + 3.33 = 7.53. Therefore, you're only saving about 30 cents total. You would only be saving a good amount if the gallon of milk is truly 2.00 as the writer of this site mentions, but I doubt that is the price in most areas, especially in this day of increasing inflation.

How do you determine that each bottle will make 6 gallons of milk using 56 drops per gallon? Our bottle of Lactase drops (the one pictured and linked in this post) will make 12 gallons of lactose-free milk using 56 drops per gallon (the recommended amount). This would make the savings (at your milk prices) $1.96 per gallon instead of $0.30 per gallon. :)

Our whole milk prices here in Seattle have gone up since this post. Last week (September 2011) we paid $2.50/gallon at Costco, which is usually close to a sale price at other grocery stores. I haven't priced Lactaid milk since we started making our own, but I wouldn't doubt that its price has also risen in that time! Since the 5 other members in our family can consume "regular" milk, I like the convenience of making our own lactose-free milk when needed. I'm sure it isn't the best choice for every family though! :)

Can it be done with pills, instead of drops?

That, I do not know. :) Perhaps search online and see if anyone else has tried it! :)

On the label, it states that each serving size is 5 drops per pint and there is a total of 75 servings per bottle. Doing some math, we get:
75 * 5 = 375 total drops / 56 drops per gallon = 6.69 servings per gallon of milk (which equates to a maximum total serving of 6 gallons of milk).

Which label are you using? :)

My math comes out differently because our label (which is pictured above) says the serving size is 7 drops per pint and there are 94 servings per bottle. Seven drops x 8 pints (1 gallon) comes out to 56 drops per gallon. Since there are 658 drops (approx.) per bottle, this will make 11.75 gallons of lactose-free milk per bottle of lactase.

Perhaps there is a new label or a different brand; I am only going by what we have and use. :)

It's on their site: http://www.seekinghealth.com/lactase-drops-lactase-enzyme.html

and it's on their image pic:
http://www.seekinghealth.com/catalog/product/gallery/id/189/image/486/

Oh, I see! :) That label is for a 1/2 ounce bottle. Our bottle is 1 ounce. :) You can probably make that out in the very top picture I have in my post... but I should be more clear about a 1-ounce bottle making 11.75 gallons instead of just saying "bottle". :)

Also, one other thing -- on the Amazon.com listing, it shows a picture for the 1-ounce bottle (which is what we purchased for ~$16) but the text on the listing doesn't mention if it's 1 ounce or 1/2 ounce, simply saying "76 servings". (Although I could be missing something...) I wonder if they raised the price AND are now selling a smaller bottle under that listing?? :( It should definitely be more clear. I also wonder why the "serving size" was changed from 7 drops (our bottle) to 5 drops. Hmmm...??

Edited to add: Never mind, I see it says 15 ml in the listing, which is 1/2 ounce. Bummer. :( They show the wrong photo for the front of the bottle in that listing!

Where can I buy the 1 ounce bottle for 20 bucks? Then it'd be a deal! :)

I'm searching on Google for "Seeking Health" lactase drops 1 ounce bottle... I'm not sure of a good retailer or place to buy the bigger bottle (I wish Amazon.com still carried it!). I know when we got ours, we got 2 bottles because it was cheaper than it normally would be (about $16 per 1-ounce bottle) and Joshua had been watching the price on Amazon for a bit. I've seen a couple other sites that point to the Amazon.com listing and give price ranges between $17.95- $26.95 for the 1-ounce bottle, but it goes to the listing for the 1/2 ounce bottle on Amazon... just like my article does. :P I don't know when they changed it... :(

I just discovered you via pinterest. I don't know if you have this issue resolved or not since I am so late getting into the conversation, but the site the doctor listed says lactase drops are now 357% stronger and the 1/2 oz bottle treats 12 gallons of milk. I hope that is correct because this stuff sounds wonderful and I can't wait to try it. They should send you some complementary for getting the word out!
Pam

I understand the process you mentioned for one gallon and also the process of adding less drops to a gallon if the milk is not used immediatly after the 24 hour period. If not 24 hours how long is good enough for the 28 drops to be sufficient (approximately). 3 - 4 days of waiting would that be suffiecient?

Thanks

I don't really have a scientific answer for that... I can say that we've been doing half the recommended amount and letting it sit at least 3 days before consuming. But, like we wrote above,

"We are in the process of reducing the amount of enzymes we use but due to the difficulty in directly testing lactose it is difficult to relate whether the amount of time is sufficient to remove all lactose or the amounts left is tolerable by Joshua."

:)

Thank you very much for sharing what you and your husband discovered. Very smart. Where I live, Wal-Mart began offering their own brand and phasing out the name brands. Then, suddenly they have no lactose free milk at all! I use it to cook a flan so it has to come to a boil. Have you tried cooking with this milk? Do you know if it affects the Lactose levels if boiled or baked into something?

Thank you again.

Lactose levels in milk are not affected by heat (cooking, boiling, or baking).

I have done some cooking with lactose-free milk (both the homemade version as well as from the store) but not enough to gauge how it will react in everything. I do know that muffins made with lactose-free milk get more browned on top than those made with "regular" milk! :) But, that's about the only difference I've noticed.

My lactose problem is more serious than just pain, at times, causes blood.
I read the description on amazon, it says a reduction of 70% lactose over 24hrs. not exactly lactose free.

I am anxious to try, but a bit nervous as well.

My understanding of how the enzymes work is that the lactose continues to be reduced as time passes (beyond, say, the first 24 hours).

However, I know there are varying degrees of lactose-intolerance in different people, so I think it's wise to be careful! :)

I just wanted to tell my experience of lactose intolerance. It developed as a result of a health problem. For several years the lactaid pills were great until I then developed a severe mold allergy. I was noticing that the pills, and now even lactaid free milk STILL upset my stomach plus increased mold symptoms. Finally, I read that enzymes (and many medications) are made using an aspergillus process so I suppose these drops might not be an option for me? I've been drinking coconut milk and thinking about checking into raw milk.

I'm wondering if this would work for cream as well as milk. I would love to make lactose free ice cream for my lactose intolerant son-in-law.

Hi,
I'm also very curious if you've tried this with cream and or whole milk? I would love to be able to make my own Ricotta cheese and ice creams but have a tough time finding all the products I need in my neighbourhood. And as you know, if I do find them they are outrageously over priced!

HI Tammy,

I am wondering if you have had any success looking for ways to make our own LACTASE.
My Google searches have turn up nothing beyond saying it is an industrial process.

Andy

Hi Tammy --

Further to my earlier post, I found this article in a database (where β-GALACTOSIDASE is LACTASE and  KLUYVEROMYCES LACTIS is a YEAST):

SOLVENT EXTRACTION OF β-GALACTOSIDASE FROM KLUYVEROMYCES LACTIS YIELDS A STABLE AND HIGHLY ACTIVE ENZYME PREPARATION
by
JEAN MARCEL RODRIGUES PINHO,
FLÁVIA MARIA LOPES PASSOS*
Journal of Food Biochemistry
Volume 35, Issue 1, pages 323–336, February 2011

The process is summarized in a flowchart in the article which I cannot seem to copy and paste here BUT it does not look like smth we can do in the kitchen sad to say.
So it's back to buying LACTASE rather than making it ourselves.

--Andy

Some questions here:
Do you need to put as much lactase into Low-fat mlik? I normally drink .01% fat content.
In your original experiments, how much lactase was in one drop in mgs? The drops I use contain 3 mgs lactase per 0.08ml (2 drops). The bottle is 10 mls. It recommends 10 drops (0.8 mls) for every litre of milk, which must then be refrigerated for 12 hours. If I drink 1 litre of milk per day (normal) then I finish the drops in about 12 days. This works-out more expensive than using lactose-free milk, which I don't want to do because it contains too much fat. I might add that I live in Turkey, so one has to go by what is available.
I was wondering, if I halved the drops and kept the milk in the fridge for 24 hours before consuming, could I spin a bottle of drops out to 24 days? Furthermore, if low-fat needs less lactase anyway, maybe I could squeeze 30 days out of it. That would be a saving.

Sorry if I missed it but can these drops be used in the same manner for other milk products? My son loves ranch dressing but we stay clear of it now that he was diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

Hey Tammy,

Do you know of any way in which to check whether the lactose has actually been removed from the milk? Perhaps the name of some sort of lactose indicator?

Thanks.

WOW. I live in Hawaii and Milk here is $4.50 per gallon (at Costco) $5.00 at grocery stores and up to $11.00 per gallon at gas stations and convenience stores.

I bought 1/2 gallon of lactose free milk (it is not sold in the 1 gallon form) and I paid about $7.00!!!

Do you think we could apply this solution to making lactose-free heavy cream? I so desperately miss icecream and I just don't like the coconut-milk based icecream's taste or texture. They just don't compare to real cow cream. Could you try it with cream, and let us know how much to use? and/or if it works? I would be greatly appreciative!

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