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100% plant-based rennet


shelora
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Not that I am a vegetarian, but I'm fascinated with natural - not genetically modified - plant based forms of rennet that are used to make cheese.

I have just heard about an artisanal cheese from Portugual that uses thistle rennet to curdle the ewe's milk.

I have also heard about fungi being used but haven't found the cheese. I have ordered the Portuguese cheese - Azeitao - and am hoping to discover other artisanal cheeses out there using plant rennets. Just because.

Anyone have any suggestions.

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Not that I am a vegetarian, but I'm fascinated with natural - not genetically modified - plant based forms of rennet that are used to make cheese.

I have just heard about an artisanal cheese from Portugual that uses thistle rennet to curdle the ewe's milk.

  I have also heard about fungi being used but haven't found the cheese. I have ordered the Portuguese cheese - Azeitao - and am hoping to discover other artisanal cheeses out there using plant rennets. Just because.

Anyone have any suggestions.

paneer is made by using lime or lemon juice, or sometimes vinegar,

to "split" the milk as the first step. no animal rennet there.

would that work for any other cheeses?

milagai

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I have just heard about an artisanal cheese from Portugual that uses thistle rennet to curdle the ewe's milk.

That was quite common up to a few decades ago in the area south of Siena in Tuscany (the Crete Senesi) to produce the local Pecorino. Nowadays it's used only by the hardcore traditionalist cheesemakers, which I personally find a pity because it gives ewe's milk cheeses a much smoother taste compared to kid rennet.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Thanks to Trader Joe's for the neat chart!

Thanks Gifted Gourmet. Very informative, but I think they have this quote the wrong way around.

Rennet is the dried extract of rennin.

Rennin is the dried extract of rennet. Rennin is the enzyme. It's a little confusing.

s

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  • 5 weeks later...
Nowadays it's used only by the hardcore traditionalist cheesemakers, which I personally find a pity because it gives ewe's milk cheeses a much smoother taste compared to kid rennet.

So are you saying that cheese aficionados can actually taste what rennet has been used in a cheese? Would you be able to elaborate on this?

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Nowadays it's used only by the hardcore traditionalist cheesemakers, which I personally find a pity because it gives ewe's milk cheeses a much smoother taste compared to kid rennet.

So are you saying that cheese aficionados can actually taste what rennet has been used in a cheese? Would you be able to elaborate on this?

It is sadly not so easy (what is!). So, if you take up a comparative tasting of pecorino cheeses it is hard to say if a cheese is made with vegetable or lamb rennet. On the other hand, it is quite easy to recognize a cheese made with kid's rennet simply because the latter gives a much sharper/piquant note to the ripe cheese.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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It is sadly not so easy (what is!). So, if you take up a comparative tasting of pecorino cheeses it is hard to say if a cheese is made with vegetable or lamb rennet. On the other hand, it is quite easy to recognize a cheese made with kid's rennet simply because the latter gives a much sharper/piquant note to the ripe cheese.

Alberto,

Thanks for that. Now I'm totally curious. I would like to do a comparative tasting for what you have spoken about. Can you think of any two cheeses that might exemplify what you are speaking about.

There is a cheese monger in Vancouver, that might have them, especially if they are artisanal.

Thanks,

Shelora

And Rebecca, I will follow up on the kosher/veg rennet question.

Cheers.

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the fresh leaves of nettles and the dried spikes of wild cardoon flowers (thistles) are used to curdle cheese in Morocco, Spain, and France.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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the fresh leaves of nettles and the dried spikes of wild cardoon flowers (thistles) are used to curdle cheese in Morocco, Spain, and France.

Thanks Paula,

Do you know if the thistle rennet be used in those countries solely for sheep and goat milk cheeses?

Azietao cheese (ewe's milk) from Portugal uses thistle rennet, but could you name any cheeses from Morroco, Spain or France that use thistle rennet?

s

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Alberto,

Thanks for that. Now I'm totally curious. I would like to do a comparative tasting for what you have spoken about. Can you think of any two cheeses that might exemplify what you are speaking about.

There is a cheese monger in Vancouver, that might have them, especially if they are artisanal.

A very good comparison, if you can find these cheeses, would be to pick one of the many "normal" Pecorini from Tuscany, which are nowadays almost completely made with kid's rennet and a vegetarian version of the same. The latter, though still somewhat rare, is becoming more popular due to the increased attention to vegetarian customers.

Or you could compare the Azeitao cheese you mention -or actually most Portugese ewe's milk cheeses- with the Spanish Manchego, which uses animal rennet.

Another possibility would be to compare two provolone kinds, the sweet and the "piccante", especially if you can get both of the same approximate age (not easy but also not impossible). Sweet Provolone is made with calf rennet while the piquant version exclusively with kid rennet.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Thanks, Alberto.

I will see what I can find here.

s

paneer is made by using lime or lemon juice, or sometimes vinegar,

to "split" the milk as the first step. no animal rennet there.

would that work for any other cheeses?

Malagai,

I suppose this would also apply to other rennetless cheeses like cottage cheese and ricotta?

s

Edited by shelora (log)
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  • 9 months later...

Yesterday I bought a sheep's milk cheese here in Atlanta (at Alon's, great bakery and cheese if you're in the area) called Evora. Portuguese, produced under "denominocao de origem protegida" by Antonio Joaquim Parracha Ganhao. Great flavor and texture: firm light gold rind progressing gradually to crumbly, slightly creamy interior. Fairly salty.

The label lists incredients as ewe's milk, salt, and "flor de cardo" or thistle. So I spent some time roaming around on the web and came up with an interesting paper on Advances in the role of a plant coagulant (Cynara cardunculus) in vitro and during ripening of cheeses from several milk species . This link will give you the abstract for the paper; click on "PDF" to get the full text with figures.

The authors give some very good background on the use of thistle rennet and present some information about the differences in cheeses from ovine, caprine, and bovine milk.

Scientific, but not so bad that a lay person can't follow it, and pretty well written.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Gee, I suppose that ALL kosher cheeses are made with vegan rennet? Someone in the know, please let us know!

I've checked a bunch of labels in my cooler. The ingredients : milk, bacterial culture, salt and microbial enzyme.

Being an animal by-product (and one can assume from non-kosher animals), it can't be mixed with dairy. So kosher cheese will not contain rennet.

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I've checked a bunch of labels in my cooler.  The ingredients : milk, bacterial culture, salt and microbial enzyme.

Being an animal by-product (and one can assume from non-kosher animals), it can't be mixed with dairy.  So kosher cheese will not contain rennet.

So the microbacterial cultures and enzymes are not themselves considered animals and animal by-products?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Not a rabbi, but I THINK that rennet is not considered fleischig. Gelatine isn't; the processing is considered to render it pareve. However, commercially available rennet is not from animals that have undergone kosher slaughter, and hence it's not kosher. Kolatin, which is the only commercially available form of animal-derived gelatine, is from kosher-slaughtered cows.

This is why yoghurts with "kosher gelatine" on the ingredients only have a K, not an OU: the gelatine comes from cows, but not ones that have undergone shechita. None of the mainstream supervision agencies in the US accept this. (It is accepted by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel; items with an ordinary "Rabbanut" [not mehadrin] hechsher may contain animal gelatine.) If, as I suspect, the situation with rennet is analagous, no mainstream supervised cheese will use animal rennet because they can't get supervision. Polly-O mozzerella cheese has a plain K, so it's probably animal rennet.

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OK. Sometimes I speak before I research :blink: .

From the Star-K's website:

However, there is another general Kashrus consideration governing Kosher cheese productions, even if the cheese is made from Cholov Yisroel. What rennet was used for the production? Rennet is an extract of the fourth stomach of a calf, rich in rennin, an enzyme which is used to curdle the milk in the cheese making process. It makes no difference whether the rennet comes from a non-Kosher species, a non-ritually slaughtered or an improperly slaughtered Kosher species. If rennet comes from such an animal, the cheese made from this rennet is not Kosher.

Today, most of the Kosher rennet used in cheese productions is known as microbial rennet. Microbial rennet is genetically engineered, which means that scientists were able to grow microorganisms under appropriate conditions to create a new programmed organism that has the same qualities as the natural animal enzyme.

I did notice another cheese today in my showcase - it's an aged goat cheese that says specifically on it "Rennet-free".

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the fresh leaves of nettles and the dried spikes of wild cardoon flowers (thistles) are used to curdle cheese in Morocco, Spain, and France.

Italy, too, unless Caciofiore della Campagna Romana, a cheese made with ewe's milk, is from cultivated cardoons.

I was just speaking to a local cheesemonger about this particular cheese from Lazio. He claims that the cheese-making process is a lot slower when a plant-based rennet is used and that is one of the reasons many cheese-makers prefer animal-based rennets. He visited a British producer who switched back to animal-based rennets after some experimentation and found the resulting Cheddar superior in flavor.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I was just speaking to a local cheesemonger about this particular cheese from Lazio.  He claims that the cheese-making process is a lot slower when a plant-based rennet is used and that is one of the reasons many cheese-makers prefer animal-based rennets.  He visited a British producer who switched back to animal-based rennets after some experimentation and found the resulting Cheddar superior in flavor.

The link I posted in upthread (post #14) gives some of the scientific basis for these differences.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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OK. Sometimes I speak before I research  :blink: .

From the Star-K's website:

...Today, most of the Kosher rennet used in cheese productions is known as microbial rennet. Microbial rennet is genetically engineered, which means that scientists were able to grow microorganisms under appropriate conditions to create a new programmed organism that has the same qualities as the natural animal enzyme.

So, microbial "rennet" (whether an endogenously produced enzyme or a genetically engineered form that's supposed to be the same as the bovine one) is acceptable?

Wasn't there some sort of brouhaha a while ago about micro-organisms in the water in NYC?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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So, microbial "rennet" (whether an endogenously produced enzyme or a genetically engineered form that's supposed to be the same as the bovine one) is acceptable?

Wasn't there some sort of brouhaha a while ago about micro-organisms in the water in NYC?

Yep, microbial is fine. It's not the enzyme per se that's the problem; it's how it's obtained.

There was a fuss about water which had to do with minute crustaceans. IMO, it was overblown, because we're only responsible for bugs we can see, and these weren't visible to the naked eye. However, bug paranoia has become the in thing in the past 10 years. (Don't get me started.. just look at Montreal Kosher's list of prohibited produce for supervised establishments. :/)

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