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making rennet

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ok, when we get our homestead and our goats, I want to make cheese without having to buy anything.


I know I don't need a starter (though it may not be a flavorful), but how do I make rennet? I know it has something to do with a calf's (kid in this case) stomach, but how do I get from kid to cheese pizza?





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The things I learn while looking stuff up for people!!! :blink:




Here's some for starters...




Traditionally, the first step in making cheese was to kill a newly-born, milk-fed calf and remove its stomach to make rennet. The rennet was derived from the inner lining of the abomasum, the fourth stomach of the calf or any other animal classified as a ruminant.


After scraping the stomach, the cheesemaker would dry it in the sun by stretching it on a rack. After the stomach was dry, it was cut it into squares or strips. Before the strips or squares were used, they were soaked in cold water and washed thoroughly before being placed in milk.


In an alternative process the strips or squares were dried, then ground, and finally mixed with a salt solution to extract rennin. Rennin is defined in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as "a coagulating enzyme occurring in the gastric juice of the calf, forming the active principal of rennet and able to curdle milk." The cheese industry prefers a broader definition of rennin, calling it "any enzyme used for the controlled coagulation of milk."


What does rennin or rennet do?

Placed in milk, rennin or rennet breaks down a protein called kappa casein that keeps milk in liquid form. The breaking down of kappa casein leads to coagulation of the milk that will become cheese. Another term used for rennin is chymosin.


Not all cheese is made with animal-derived rennet. There are a number of rennetless cheeses whose coagulating enzymes are vegetable, microbial, or genetically engineered. One group of rennetless cheeses has acidic levels high enough not to require enzymes for coagulation. This group includes cottage cheese, ricotta, and some varieties of mozzarella. Rennetless has also become a generic term for any cheese made without any animal derived enzymes.


Vegetable rennet usually means the enzyme was plant based. The phrase is an oxymoron because rennet implies it is animal derived. To add to the confusion, enzymes produced using microbes are often included in this category. What types of plants have been used to produce these enzymes? In the past, eager cheese makers have utilized plants like lady's bedstraw (Galium verum or curdwort), stinging nettle, fig leaves, melon, safflower, and wild thistle.


Microbial rennet can be produced by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehe, Mucor Pusillus, and Endothia cryphonectria or from bacteria like Bacillus subililis or Bacillus prodigiosum. This type of rennet cannot be used to make cheddar or hard cheeses.


Genetically engineered rennet arose out of economic necessities. Supplies of animal rennet have always fluctuated and shortages have occurred. Supply problems have led to all types of research including one attempt in 1997 to create rennet from fish stomach mucosa, a waste product of the fishing industry. With bioengineered rennet the supply is always available and less expensive.


The bioengineering process involves taking a calf's prochymosin gene and inserting it into genomes of bacteria and yeast. In 1989 a microbial chymosin first appeared on the FDA's GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) list. In March 1990, after a 28-month review, the FDA approved a bioengineered form of rennin as the first genetically engineered product for human consumption.


According to information obtained from Whole Foods Market, "it is estimated that 70% of domestic cheese (in the United States) is produced with bioengineered chymosin. The producers of bioengineered rennet claim that their process will end the cheese industry's reliance on slaughtered calves.


(Continues with other stuff.)






(Basically more of a discussion of what it is and how it works.)


Types Of Coagulating Enzymes Used To Make Cheese

Animal rennin is the coagulating enzyme (rennin or chymosin) that is harvested from the stomachs of calves.


Vegetable rennet is a misnomer given that the definition of rennet recognizes it strictly as an animal derived substance. Although cheese has been made using enzymes from the Lady Bedstraw, Stinging Nettle, and Thistle flower, the term vegetable rennet is most commonly used when describing enzymes produced using microbes. "Vegetable rennet" is sometimes used more generally to describe any non-animal rennet.


Microbial rennets are enzymes derived from a controlled fermentation of a fungus (e.g., Mucor Pusillus, Mucor Miehi, and Endothia Cryphonectria) or microbial rennets. However, microbial rennets cannot be used to produce cheddar or hard cheeses, limiting their application as an alternative to animal or bioengineered rennets.


Genetically engineered rennets. Shortages and fluctuations in the available supplies of calf rennet prompted the development of genetically engineered rennet. Food scientists can however produce a continuous and pure source of microbial chymosin by incorporating a calf's prochymosin gene into a microorganism. The first microbial chymosin was affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA in 1989, with many others following shortly thereafter. Currently, it is estimated that 50% of the chymosin used is produced by transgenic means.


Rennetless. The term "rennetless" is used to mean two things in the cheese world. First, rennetless cheeses are also called "acid precipitated cheeses" and include cottage cheese, ricotta, and some mozzarella. These types of cheese are created using their natural acid levels and do not require the addition of a coagulating enzyme. The second interpretation of "rennetless" cheese is any cheese made without the use of animal derived coagulants.


(original link no longer works, and I can no longer find this same info on their site - http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/cheese.php )




And I really like this one, but you'll need to read it all. It's from 1831, in "OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE - Online Resource Library". This is a resource I'm gonna REALLY look at!!!


3. Which is the best method to preserve rennet skins*?

Let the calf suck about 11 hours before it is killed. Take out the maw-skin*, and let it lie three hours in a cool place, then empty the maw, (let no water touch it,) and rub it well with salt on each side, and afterwards cover it with salt, and put it in a bowl; turn and rub it every day for about three days, then open it to dry, being stretched out on a stick, that it may dry regularly.


It is of great importance that the maw skin be well prepared; good cheese cannot be made with bad rennet. It is reckoned best to be one year old before used; it will fetch more cheese, and it is said the cheese will be milder. To prepare the rennet, make 2 quarts of brine that will swim an egg; when the heat is gone off to about blood warm, put in one maw-skin cut in pieces, let it steep two days (48 hours) then strain and bottle it.


4. What quantity of new cheese will one rennet skin produce?

The average about 250 lbs. (some produce 600 lbs.)









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do not let the kid eat anything! only mothers milk! this means you have to move kid and mother to a clean stall.. no straw! let kid nurse and then butcher.


slice 4th stomach open, cut into 1" squares and dry.


when using, place square in milk, once coagulated, remove.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I came across this....very interesting.


For hard-core self-sufficient types who prefer not to spend any of their cash, milk can also be curdled with infusions from certain wild-harvested or garden-grown plants: Lady's Bedstraw, nettles and thistle flowers.


Harvest the herb; dry out of the sun. Make a strong "tea" from the plant material using one handful of herb to one cup of boiling water; let cool before using.


The amount you'll need will vary by the quality of your herbs-keep a record of the amount you use so that you can adapt your recipe to reflect the changes. Herbs may alter the taste of your finished cheese, too.


Source:How To Develop A Low-Cost Family Food-Storage System

by Anita Evangelista


(I love her books! )

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks westie, I was wondering where those links had gotten to.


By the way, I am also kygal. not sure why, but thats me. lol


and I still make yogurt cream cheese. I add garlic and herbs, spread it on toast and add fried tomatoes and spinach. YUMMI!!!

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this was the first recipes I used when I started cheese making. They are not only simple but actually pretty good!


Basic Vinegar Cheese


1 gallon goat milk

¼ cup vinegar - different vinegars will have a different flavor cheese (Distilled, apple, red wine)


In a double boiler (so the milk won't burn) heat the milk to 185

Degrees. Add vinegar and stir briefly. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and strain through cheese cloth-lined colander. Hang to drain. This will make about 1 ½ pounds of cheese. The draining takes roughly 2 hours. Can be stored in refrigerator for about 2 weeks.




add salt -without salt a bit bland but sweet


Borusin: place basic cheese in a blender and add garlic, thyme and salt


Cream Cheese: place in a blender and add cream or milk

Ricotta: place in a blender and add a pinch of nutmeg and a little cream or milk


Desert Topping: place in a blender and add a pinch of nutmeg, cream, sugar, vanilla


Pie Filling: Same as above adjust ingredients to taste; add chocolate, fruit, or use your imagination


Cheesecake: add ½ cup of Amaretto to milk and proceed with basic

vinegar cheese recipe Herb Cheese: add spices and herbs to milk then proceed with basic vinegar cheese recipe


The following can be added after the cheese has drained- great with crackers


Jalapeno cheese: Jalapeno peppers, garlic or onions, salt

Onion cheese: 1 T. minced garlic, 1 T. parsley flakes, 1 T. chopped onion, ½ t. garlic salt, ½ t. onion salt, ½ t. celery salt


Hidden Valley Cheese: add a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing -variations; add 1 t. lemon pepper, 1 t. dill weed, ½ t. garlic salt


Smokey Bacon Cheese: ½ cup bacon crumbled, ½ t. liquid smoke, ½ t. celery salt, ½ t. garlic salt


Taco Flavored: 1 package dry taco seasoning mix - variations; 1 t. lemon pepper, 1 t. dill weed, ½ t. garlic salt


Lemon Cheese


5 quarts goats milk - fresh or frozen

1 cup lemon juice concentrate or fresh

salt optional


Heat milk to 165 degrees to 200 degrees. Add lemon juice a little at a time and let the curd set for 1 hour. Pour into cheesecloth lined colander and then hang to drain for about 2 hours. Crumble the curds with your fingers and add salt.


Mexican Cheese Queso


1 gallon milk

3/8 cup vinegar or lemon juice or a combination of both or lemon juice and Jalapeno juice together


Heat milk to 180 degrees, slowly add vinegar. Let sit until curds form and drain in cheese cloth lined colander, hand to dry. This makes a great recipe for fried cheese sticks: roll into sticks, and roll in beaten egg, cornmeal and seasonings. Deep fry until golden brown.




Recipe: Goat Cheese Tip


If you raise the milk over 150 degrees the cheese will not melt. So if you want a melting cheese keep this in mind.


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Paul as you see by the recipe below.. the same can be made from powdered milk....


Cheese from Powered Milk


Yogurt/sour cream/cream cheese from powdered milk, without electricity.

1 qt. lukewarm water

2 cups dry milk powder

2 T. plain yogurt or dry yogurt starter)


Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a thermos bottle and let stand overnight. When yogurt is done, you can add vanilla, fruit, fruit juice, cheese, prepared Jello, or anything that sounds good

to you. Sour cream The above yogurt can replace commercial sour cream.

You can also use this as a base for dips for chips if you add sugar, garlic salt, seasoning salt, pepper, onion flakes,

bacon bits, etc.

Cream cheese You can turn the plain yogurt into cream cheese by

putting it into fine cheesecloth, hang it above the sink, and let it drain overnight. To give it more flavor, add some vanilla, brown sugar and salt to it. Sweetened Condensed milk In a small bowl, combine 1 cup plus 2 T. non-fat dry milk and 1/2 cup warm water. Add 3/4 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. If necessary, set bowl in hot water to hasten dissolving. Although not as thick as regular sweetened condensed milk, this works well as a substitute. BTW, this stuff isn't as good as the commercial products, but it ain't bad either. I think the quality depends on the product you use. I just bought some whole powdered milk

and am going to try that when I get time.



I posted this last winter. Is from the book "Cooking With Powdered Milk" by Peggy Layton.


Medium Cheddar Cheese 6 C. warm water 1 C. vegetable oil 9 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder (dehydrated) 4 1/2 C. powdered milk 2 5/8 C. white vinegar Blend all ingredients except cheese powder. Pour into a hot greased saucepan and heat to 115*F to form curds. Rinse the curds from the whey in warm water, then in cold. Add salt to taste add the cheese powder and mix well. Put into a cheesecloth and press it between two plates with a 1 pound object on top of the plate until all liquids are pressed out. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.




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Paul this was the first real cheese I made.. We liked it alot! especially with dehydrated green and red hot peppers!


Mozzarella Cheese


1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (health food stores)

1/4 cup water

1 1/4 gallons milk

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (1/4 tab rennet = 1/2 teaspoon liquid)

1/8 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon salt


Stir citric acid into 1/4 cup water and add to the milk.

Warm in a double boiler the milk to 88^ degrees. Dilute liquid rennet in 1/8 cup of water. Stir into the milk gently for 15 seconds.


Cover and let set for 15 minutes or until it coagulates. Cut curd into 2 inch cubes slowly, taking about 5 minutes to do so. Let curds rest for 5 minutes.


Raise the temperature to 98^ degrees over a 15 minute period. Continue to stir gently. Keep the curds at 98^ for 15 more minutes stirring gently, trying to keep the curds from matting. Curds should be firm.


Heat the curds in whey until it is very hot and curds are shinny and look like they are starting to melt. Drain off whey (save). Knead as if it were taffy. Work in salt to taste.


Optional - at kneading stage you can add dried hot pepper flakes which makes a wonder Jalapano Mozzerella Cheese.


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Thank you so much. I've been tinkering with the idea. Now it's time to get down to it. Have you tried making your own rennet as suggested above? Probably lots easier to buy it but I'm just wondering. Thanks again.



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raising goats, when I loose a youngin' that is exactly what I do! you have to fish the lining out of the cheese, helps to tie a string to it.


I realize this is Africa, but take a look at what is being used for cheese presses, (I used a coffee can and the weights from my kids barbells! he never missed them!)




this site may help.. I enjoyed it





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  • 1 year later...

trying to link all the cheese/rennet since rennet means cheese threads


some will be duplicated as we do and later we will delete the duplicates.. but numbers have changes so bare with us.












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  • 1 month later...

OK... I re-added the rennet info originally in this thread and deleted the references to broken links. Now I see that the links from other Mrs S threads *also* have missing info.


I'll keep working on it... I'm grateful for your patience, and welcome PMs (private messages) telling me about any other problems!!






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  • 4 years later...

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