Most Beemster cheeses are naturally lactose-free, so almost everyone can can enjoy them.
Beemster cheeses are made with real milk from real livestock, so how is it that almost all Beemster varieties are lactose free? The secret lies in the cheesemaking process.
Let’s back up for a second. Lactose is a sugar found in milk. If you, like an estimated 40 million other Americans, are lactose intolerant, it means that your body is unable to fully digest this sugar. The symptoms are unpleasant, and include stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and more. During cheesemaking, an edible acid (like rennet) is added to the milk, which transforms it into curds and whey. The curds eventually become cheese and most of the lactose from the initial milk is discarded with the whey.
As for any remaining lactose, that is taken care of during the ripening process, when probiotics (aka gut-friendly bacteria) are added to the cheese. At this point, the remaining lactose doesn’t stand a chance. It’s transformed into easier-to-digest lactic acid and there you have it, lactose-free cheesy goodness.
To check if a cheese is lactose free, look at the Sugar entry on the Nutrition Facts panel. If the amount listed is 0g, then the cheese contains no more than half a gram of lactose per ounce.