Imagine what you can do with a little liquid rennet. This amazing fluid is one of the four ingredients of cheese, along with milk, salt, and bacteria or mold. Just a few drops of liquid rennet can start the magical transformation of a gallon of milk into a vat of curd, the foundation of nearly every kind of cheese in the world.
Here in Wisconsin, we know that with the great power of liquid rennet comes great responsibility. That's why we entrust our rennet to 1,200 of the best cheesemakers in the world. They use that power wisely to create the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese in the universe.
Take a spin through our website to meet some Wisconsin Cheeses made with liquid rennet. Search our recipe index for inspiration for your next mac and cheese dinner. Or scroll down to learn more about the incredible power of liquid rennet.
Whether you're making cheese at home or in the largest commercial cheese plant, rennet is responsible for the first big step in making cheese: coagulating the milk.
Rennet is a set of enzymes that includes chymosin, a protease enzyme that causes the casein proteins in milk to join together and create a solid curd. Rennet also is responsible for trapping other good stuff from the milk like minerals and fats in the curd, which will be essential to making tasty cheese later on.
Originally, rennet was harvested from the stomach lining of young ruminant animals like calves, lambs, and kids (goats). In fact, cheese was probably invented when some early ancestor of ours tried to transport milk in a pouch made from such a stomach and found to his or her delight that the milk had turned to cheese by the end of the journey.
In addition to animal rennet, cheesemakers have tried to coagulate milk with a variety of other enzymes. Vegetable rennet uses the coagulating properties of plants like thistles, nettles, and artichokes. Microbial rennet uses yeast, mold, and fungi. And genetically engineered rennet uses yeast that's been injected with the DNA from ruminant animals.
Rennet is available in several forms. Liquid rennet is often used in small-batch production as it's easy to measure it precisely. For larger operations, rennet in tablet form or powder form may be easier to use and has a longer shelf life. Liquid rennet also has some preservatives that some cheesemakers prefer not to use.
Rennet is step # 1 in how to make cheese. Rennet is an enzyme that causes cheese to coagulate, encouraging the proteins in milk to clump together and form a solid curd while releasing liquid whey. Rennet is one of four ingredients in rennet cheese, along with milk, salt, and a starter culture of bacteria or mold that's designed to turn lactose into lactic acid.
Liquid rennet is easy to measure precisely, which is important in small-batch cheese production and when making cheese at home. The shelf life of liquid rennet is not as long as powdered rennet or rennet in tablet form. And liquid rennet has preservatives that cause some cheesemakers to prefer rennet in other forms.
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In Wisconsin, liquid rennet has a special place in our hearts. Because chances are, it was liquid rennet that helped make the first cheese we fell in love with. Maybe it was a beautiful block of brick cheese. Or a sweet slice of baby swiss. Or a championship chunk of age cheddar. Whatever the cheese, we'll be eternally grateful to liquid rennet for opening our eyes to a whole new world of flavor.
See, we're pretty big on cheese in Wisconsin. Of course, you would be, too, if your cheesemakers made more than 600 flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese. Or if they won more awards for their cheesemaking than any other state or country in the world.
So, next time you're craving the sweet, nutty, tangy taste of cheese, make sure to look for a chunk with the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. Chances are you're about to fall in love with cheese all over again.
Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?
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In Wisconsin, we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in the world. We believe in tradition, producing everything from Italian classics, like parmesan and ricotta, to swiss cheese and cheddar varieties. But every Wisconsin cheesemaker is an innovator as well, which is why we have so many Wisconsin originals, like colby and muenster. Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, potatoes au gratin, or a charcuterie board, Wisconsin cheese makes every dish and recipe tastier.