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Old 01-31-2008, 03:39 AM   #1
Yuri_Rage
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Default Let's talk: Rennet

I'm a complete cheese idiot. I don't know the first thing about it, and I've never made any at all. I do have at least a passing interest in making some GOOD chese, though.

I've seen "rennet" listed as an ingredient in many cheese recipes. What is it? What does it do? Are there different types? How do I use it? Is it necessary?

Discuss.

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Old 01-31-2008, 03:43 AM   #2
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Rennet is an enzyme that coagulates milk, making it easier for infants to digest. It is found in the intestines of infant mammals, from where it is extracted, however rennet can be extracted from plants (for vegetarians). It is a very important ingredient in cheese making because it coagulates the milk into curds, used to make cheese, leaving whey as a byproduct, which is used to make some cheeses and many other food products.

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Old 01-31-2008, 03:38 PM   #3
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I have seen Junket Rennet listed as a good Rennet to use for cheese making, but have found that it really isn't that great. Kind of like using bread yeast for making beer, yeah it coagulates but not nearly as cleanly and rapidly as a good cheese making Rennet.

Also, if you are not into Genetically altered foods be aware that many commercial Rennets are now GM. You can make a vegetarian coagulant from Stinging Nettle (which btw is a great steamed veggie in the Spring). They also are usually a single Chymosin as opposed to the multiple types found in natural Rennet.

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Old 01-31-2008, 03:49 PM   #4
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There are many places that sell good quality rennet. I have read not to use junket but I imagine its the only rennet most people can purchase locally.

If that is true about commercial rennet being a GM product I imagine that many commercial cheeses would be GM as well.

Leeners offers a veggie rennet that I have used. I have no idea its source:

http://www.leeners.com/cheesesupply.html#rennet

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Old 01-31-2008, 10:33 PM   #5
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I agree with zoebisch01, Junket is not the greatest, but it does work. I use it because it's available locally, but I want to buy some "real" rennet from an online store, and try some vegetarian rennet too.

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Old 01-31-2008, 11:01 PM   #6
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"Real rennet" is the lining of an un-weaned calf's stomach. It isn't used much any more in commercial or home cheese making. I always wondered who figured out that a calf's stomach had the enzymes to make cheese curd.
Chemical rennet is used in commercial manufacturer's cheese. I suppose that what you buy for home use is either chemical enzymes or the veggie rennet mentioned above.

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Old 01-31-2008, 11:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurmey
I always wondered who figured out that a calf's stomach had the enzymes to make cheese curd.
It is possible that it was an accedental discovery. People would store milk in bags made from the stomach of a cow or sheep. They noticed that the milk would seperate into solids and leave a liquid (curdle). The realised that the solids tasted good and would last longer than fresh milk. This allowed mlik, a very perishable food product, to be stored for a longer time. http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser...et/Rennet.html
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Old 01-31-2008, 11:18 PM   #8
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Rennet FAQ

I ended up going with the Liquid Animal Rennet
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