What is rennet?
Traditional animal rennet is an enzyme derived from the stomachs of calves, lambs or goats before they consume anything but milk. (Ours is all from calves.) It is about 90% pure chymosin. Rennet thrives at temperatures in the 85-105F range, but it won’t be deactivated completely until it reaches the 140F’s. Rennet continues working to set the milk as long as it has the right conditions. So, when a recipe calls for cutting the curds after a certain time period, it is important to follow the directions. Otherwise, your curds may be too firm for the cheese you are trying to make.
How do I choose which rennet to use?
Rennet is standardized, so all the different kinds of rennet (liquid, tablet or powder) work the same to set milk. Liquid is the easiest to work with because you can measure it very precisely. However, the powders and tablets will keep better under more adverse conditions. Calf rennet is considered to be the best choice for longer aged cheeses because some of its residual components help to complete the breakdown of proteins.