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Lactose-free/lactose-reduced ice cream* is typically made using the same equipment as conventional dairy ice cream. The primary difference lies in modifying the recipe correctly to ensure that the ice cream ingredients contain no or reduced lactose.

 Ice cream experts are on hand at our Ice Cream Academy in Denmark to help you develop the perfect product for your audience and get the most from your processing equipment. They stand ready to assist you in redefining and reinventing your recipes to stay ahead in this growing market.

*The rules for designating lactose-free and lactose-reduced food products vary between countries. They must be checked in each case by the food producer based on the recipe, technology applied, quality control testing procedures and food product positioning.    

Method 1: use lactose-free/lactose-reduced milk powder

Producers often use lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk powder for their recipe base. This lowers the freezing point of the mix – and if the freezing point drops too low, it may cause the ice cream to be softer than desired. Challenges can then arise in the continuous freezing process. To avoid this scenario, producers recalibrate their recipe by adjusting – and in some cases reducing – the levels of sugars such as sucrose, dextrose and glucose syrup. Tetra Pak can guide you in how to do this so your lactose-free/lactose-reduced ice cream tastes perfect every time.
Lactose-free ice cream cones on blue background

Method 2: add lactase enzyme

Another way to go lactose-free/lactose-reduced is to add the enzyme lactase to the ice cream mix in a tank installed on the line. Lactase removes lactose by breaking it down into two different sugars. The length of this process varies depending on the exact lactase enzyme used. Enzyme suppliers provide information on dosage, temperature and holding time. But since enzyme performance can vary, the risk of lactose residues remaining in the product remains ever-present. As a result, regular quality assurance is required for compliance purposes and to ensure the lactase does its job and removes the lactose. Usually the tank will be placed at the start of the line, but lactase addition can also be performed on the finished ice cream mix. In either case, it is again essential to rebalance the sugars in the mix to achieve an optimal freezing point and to ensure high product quality and production process performance.
Lactose-free ice cream cones on white background

Non-dairy alternatives

Another route to lactose-free is to make a sorbet, which contains no dairy ingredients and hence no lactose, or a sherbet frozen dessert. Again, reducing or eliminating milk solids in an ice cream mix requires competent recipe management. Here Tetra Pak has extensive expertise and stands ready to assist you. Plant-based frozen desserts are also lactose-free and are produced using conventional ice cream techniques. For optimal results, equipment setups may require modifications or added options in areas such as mixing, homogenisation, heat treatment and continuous freezing.

All our ice cream processing lines can run lactose-free/lactose-reduced ice cream!

Mixing, homogenization, freezing, dosing, filling, extrusion, moulding and wrapping of lactose-free/lactose-reduced products are no different than for traditional ice cream products. The secret is in optimizing the recipe to have the optimally desired consistency to run smoothly through the production line. If the product is also plant-based it is advised to use specific options on the equipment as further described in our plant-based frozen desserts section.
Best-practice ice cream extrusion line

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