Microbial rennet is a bit of a magician. Squeeze a few drops into a gallon of milk and – poof! – you've got curd to make into cheese. But microbial rennet can also make a few other problems disappear. As it's produced from fungi, mold, or yeast, it's able to make cheese that's acceptable to vegetarians. And it's much cheaper than animal rennet, helping to bring down the cost of the cheesemaking process.
Here in Wisconsin, we're pretty fond of microbial rennet. Then again, we're fond of anything that puts more cheese on our plate. We're just glad to know that our Wisconsin cheesemakers have one more trick up their sleeve for producing the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese in the world.
Take a look around our website to meet some amazing Wisconsin Cheeses made with microbial rennet. Search our index for recipes for the best grilled cheese sandwiches or new mac and cheese dishes. Or scroll down for an explanation of the role microbial rennet plays in making the world's most amazing food.
Rennet is a huge part of how cheese is made. It's one of the four essential ingredients in cheese, along with milk, salt, and bacteria or mold that helps to give the cheese its flavor. Added to milk early in the cheesemaking process, rennet is responsible for coagulating the milk and helping to separate the watery way from the solid curd.
Here's how it works: enzymes in the rennet encourage the casein proteins in milk to clump together, creating curds and releasing whey. The casein proteins also trap the fats and minerals in milk that are an essential part of the cheesemaking process.
Originally, cheesemakers used animal rennet that was harvested from the stomach lining of young ruminant animals. Because this type of rennet is not always available or affordable and is not acceptable to vegetarians, cheesemakers created microbial rennet as a substitute. Microbial rennet uses fungi, yeast, or mold that has coagulating properties. Microbial products are available as tablets, powdered, or liquid rennet.
Rennet is a set of enzymes that help coagulate milk, separating the curd from whey in the cheesemaking process. Rennet cheese is made with only three other ingredients: milk, salt, and a starter culture of bacteria or mold.
Microbial rennet is a coagulating agent that is based on live organisms like mold, yeast, or fungi. Microbial rennet is grown in the lab, where controlled conditions and constant monitoring ensure the right quality of mold, fungi, or yeast is included in each ounce of rennet.
Get Pairing Ideas, Cheese Recipes, Cheese Facts, Wisconsin Cheese Awards delivered straight to your inbox.
Here in Wisconsin, our cheesemakers know microbial rennet like the back of their very capable hands. They understand its power, and they know how to use it to make some mighty fine cheese.
That's exactly what you'd expect from the only state in the nation that requires cheesemakers to have a license to make cheese. And from a place that produces more flavors, types, and varieties of cheese (600 and counting) than anywhere else. There's a reason our cheesemakers have won more awards than any other state or nation – they're simply masters at making the best cheese in the world.
So next time you want to taste the marvel that microbial rennet can render, grab yourself a cheese with the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. That's when you know you're about to embark on a true flavor adventure.
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?
Check out the world’s largest cheese platform.
View our Current Issue
Need help? Say Hello
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.