At Artisanal Premium Cheese, we are proud to offer a varied selection of vegetarian-friendly and organic cheeses to our customers. Rennet is the common name for the substance used by cheesemakers to coagulate milk, forming curds. In the past, rennet was almost wholly derived from animal sources - specifically, from the stomach of a calf, kid, or lamb. Today, there are several alternatives to traditional rennet in use by cheese producers, both in America and abroad.
Vegetable Rennet - Certain plants also possess the enzymes necessary to curdle milk. Plants that have found more common use as coagulants include Thistle, Fig Tree bark, and Mallow. In accordance with certain religious and cultural customs, traditional cheeses from Portugal and the Middle East are rennetted with vegetable rennet. Artisanal Premium Cheese stocks a variety of Portuguese thistle-rennet cheeses. Their unique texture and bright, herbal tang appeals to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Microbial rennet consists of enzymes derived from fungal or bacterial sources. Some microbial rennets are derived from microorganisms that naturally produce chymosin, the enzyme responsible for the coagulation of milk. Other types of microbial rennet have been altered in a lab to produce chymosin by means of the same genes found in a calf's stomach. These rennets were developed in the late 1980's in response to a shortage of animal-derived rennet and increased consumer demand for vegetarian-friendly cheese. Very strict vegetarians may wish to avoid cheese with this type of rennet, even though animals are not involved in its day-to-day production.