Lactose-free cream is a dairy-free substitute for creating cream-based foods, such as cakes or ice cream. Basic lactose-free cream uses a nut mixture as its cream base, negating the need for any dairy ingredients. Common nut mixtures include almonds and cashews.
Many people's bodies are intolerant of dairy products. Dairy milk and cream consist of a principal sugar called lactose. The human body uses lactase enzymes within the small intestine for breaking down the lactose sugar. Lactose-intolerant people are deficient in lactase enzymes, generating painful abdominal bloating and other digestive problems.
The typical nut mixture in lactose-free cream — almonds and cashews — offers many health benefits for people who are lactose intolerant. Almonds provide important antioxidants in the form of vitamin E. Cashews help the human body by providing important amino acids. Some amino acids must be consumed through one's diet because the human body does not create all 20 necessary amino acids. Amino acids create proteins within the body for muscle generation.
Cooking with alternative ingredients commonly requires the cook to convert ingredient amounts. This conversion process can be frustrating, affecting the quality and taste of the final meal if the substitute ingredient is not measured correctly. Most lactose-free cream types can directly substitute dairy cream in the same measured amounts for any recipe.
Similar to dairy cream, lactose-free cream is normally available in sweetened and unsweetened varieties. Cooks can use the unsweetened version for baking recipes and gravies or sauces. Sweetened cream varieties work well for homemade ice cream and whipped toppings.
Unlike dairy cream, the combined ingredients within lactose-free cream tend to clump together over long storage times. Cooks must be aware that the cream must be shaken or stirred to regain the mixed texture for proper cooking. Long storage times commonly require the cream to be frozen. Many cream manufacturers suggest that any thawing process should occur in the refrigerator, rather than out on a table or kitchen counter. Refrigerator defrosting prevents ice crystals from accumulating within the cream mixture.
Consumers might notice small brown pieces within the creamy mixture of lactose-free cream. Most cooks are familiar with dairy cream's uniform color and consistency throughout the ingredient. Lactose-free cream, however, will naturally showcase nut pieces, such as skin. These brown portions are part of the natural cream base; cooks should not attempt to remove the pieces or assume that the cream has gone bad.