Rennet is what makes the milk coagulate in cheesemaking. It’s what makes the milk turn into curds. The amount of rennet for making cheese varies by cheese. Firmer cheeses take more rennet and may need longer to coagulate. Learn more about the different types of rennet and forms that it comes in to understand how it affects the cheesemaking process.
Animal or Vegetable Rennet?
Animal rennet generally comes from calves, lambs or goats before they consume anything but milk. Most artisanal cheesemakers rely on traditional animal rennet because it gives the best curd set and ages well. Vegetable rennet is a microbial product extracted from mold. It passes as vegetarian and is not a GMO product, typically. The Cheesemaker has rennets with Kosher certification, also.
Liquid, Tablet or Powder?
All forms of rennet work the same to set the milk. The difference is more in how they handle. Liquid rennet is typically preferred, because it can be measured precisely. However, you do have to be careful about which liquid rennet you use, because many have preservatives to keep the rennet fresh. Liquid rennet needs to be stored in the refrigerator.
Rennet tablets are a little harder to measure out quantities for small batches. The rule of thumb is that one-quarter teaspoon of liquid rennet equals one-quarter tablet. If you have an extremely small batch, it might be difficult to get the right amount of a tablet.
Powdered rennet is best for larger batches of more than two gallons of milk. Powdered rennet is highly concentrated, which means you only need about 1/16 teaspoon for 2 gallons of milk, depending on the curd firmness you want. However, when stored properly, powdered rennet lasts a long time.
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