Serious Cheese: Tolerating La Tur

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"The more acidic the cheese, the less lactose is in there, and the more tolerable it should be for most people."


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In the intervening weeks since the last post about my apparent lactose intolerance, not only have I been able to tolerate small amounts of dairy consumed infrequently, I have also spent a lot of time caring for a new baby in our family. All this to explain that a) I haven't yet seen a doctor about my sudden inability to enjoy vast amounts of gelato and Ukranian food, and b) I haven't had much free time in which to experiment with my new-found lactose intolerance.

I have generally not shied away from dairy, however, even if I haven't tried to fully test my limits. That means that just this weekend I was able to enjoy one of my favorite spreadable cheeses: La Tur, a tangy, buttery, mixed milk cheese from Piemonte, which has a beautifully gooey texture near its white bloomy rind, and a pasty interior that's perfect for spreading on warm, crusty bread.

In general, soft, young cheeses like La Tur can be rough on the lactose intolerant; the moisture is an indication of increased whey content in the cheese, and the whey is where the lactose likes to live. However, La Tur is a relatively high-acid cheese (thus the tanginess), and the acid in cheese is lactic acid, which is the by-product of the breakdown of lactose. The more acidic the cheese, the less lactose is in there, and the more tolerable it should be for most people.

Some may also posit that the cheese was tolerable because it wasn't made solely of cow's milk. Indeed goat's milk does have less lactose by volume than cow's milk, but it's not a vastly significant difference (4.1% by volume vs. 4.7%, respectively). And that difference is made largely irrelevant once the milk is made into cheese, since cheese has a small fraction of the original lactose left in it (see this chart from the NIH). So while goat's milk may be a good substitute for cow's milk, there really isn't much point in substituting goat cheese for cow's milk cheese. The difference is just too small.

I still plan on discussing my issues with a doctor, but in the meantime I am quite happy that, at the very least, I can enjoy a satisfying amount of La Tur in my current state. Can't complain about that.