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What's the Deal With: Rennet

What's the Deal With: Rennet

Have you seen "rennet" listed as an ingredient on the package of your favorite cheese. I thought there were different forms of rennet, but wasn't exactly sure, so I did some research.

Rennet is a natural complex of enzymes produced in the stomach of mammals to help digest it's mother's milk. Inside the young animal's stomach, the rennet coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into curds and whey.

In the cheese-making process, rennet is added to the ingredients to do the same thing. The curds are separated from the liquid (whey), and it's then processed and matured to produce a wide variety of cheeses.

The rennet you find in cheese can come from 3 sources: the stomachs of calves (it's extracted after they are killed for veal), from plants, or from microbes (molds or fungus).

The word "enzymes" may also be listed in the ingredients instead of "rennet." Cabot cheese does this and when I called, I found out they use microbial enzymes (not from animals).

Fit's Tips: Just because "rennet" is listed in the ingredients, does NOT mean it comes from calves. Likewise, just because it says "enzymes," does NOT mean it comes from plants or microbes. If you are concerned with the type of enzymes found in your cheese, it's best to call the company to find out the source.


Join The Conversation
GrapeBubbleGum GrapeBubbleGum 9 years
What did you mean by: "Likewise, just because it says "enzymes," does NOT mean it comes from plants or microbes." Do you mean that it could come directly from the animal in that case?
kerneschick2005 kerneschick2005 9 years
BTW, Cabot is amazing, some of the best cheese I've had.
lovekailua lovekailua 9 years
me too kgtg, me too!
kgtg1 kgtg1 9 years
The sad fact is that dairy cows are treated just as poorly, if not worse, than cows meant for slaughter. So, if you are going to eat meat or cheese to begin with, rennet should not be an issue for you. I absolutely love cheese, but don't eat it for moral and health reasons. I miss it!
girlboy girlboy 10 years
demonkitty18 demonkitty18 10 years
Oh crap. what if you're out n u order a dish that has cheese? I'm not gonna know if its added from a plant or poor baby calf. damn I'm going to have 2 stop eating cheese.
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
Whoa. That sounds nasty. I like cheese, though, so I may have to start paying attention to this rennet thingy.
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