Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prairie Kerri on Rennet

It was called to my attention this morning, that not all my readers are dairy maids and that perhaps I should actually note a source for "weird" ingredients.  Okay, my friend didn't quite put it that way, but I know what she was thinkin'.  Our phone call went something like this:

Friend:  "So, I was reading your blog and was thinking wow, Feta.  Then, I read the ingredients.  What's rennet?"
Me:  "Oh, something used to make cheese."
Friend: "Yeah, but what is rennet?"  (She's persistent like that)
Me:  "Well, actually is derived from the lining of calves stomachs."
Friend:  (pause....not a long one though) "I didn't really want to know that."
Me:  "Me either.  I prefer to think of it as a little pill that makes cheese happen."
Friend: "So, where do I get it?"
Me: "For you, you come to my house and I'll give you a tablet that will last you 8 batches."
Friend: "Yeah, but where else do you get it?"  **Did she not hear me?
Me:  "Well, you can get it out at Homestead Heritage or order it online."
Friend:  "Maybe you should post sources for it.  And, next time remember your reader base." (Okay, she didn't really make the last statement, that was more of a notation for myself)

So in the spirit of knowledge, I, Prairie Kerri, am about to school you on rennet.  There are actually different sources of rennet nowadays.  There is vegetable rennet derived from fig juice, nettles, thistles mallow and ground ivy.  There is microbial rennet derived from a special mold...doesn't sound appealing.  Then, there is a GMO rennet.  Don't get me started here as there is a special soap box about GMO's.  For those of you that don't know about GMO's it stands for Genetically Modified Organism.  Here is an informational article on GMO's if you've never heard about them, and most likely you haven't.  I am trying to steer clear of this soapbox for today, but trust me it will show itself on another occasion.  Back to rennet and it's first, pure form.  The following excerpts came from wikipedia.  It is not for the faint of heart, but none-the-less here it is:
Ok, I struck that whole line, selected the whole excerpt and hit delete.  If you want to read it on wikipedia, click here.  I decided I valued you readers more than that.  If you go there, it's at your own free will and I won't stand in your way.  But, some of you out there might be a little "soft" and I don't want to interfere with the entertainment I am providing you here. 

There is an important thing to note.  There is a type of rennet you can find in some health food stores called junket rennet.  I have heard mixed reviews on this.  It is NOT the typical rennet you use in cheese making and heresay is that you get mixed results when using (most often lack of success).  So, if you are actually thinking you might want to give it a go, order rennet tablets (or liquid) online and wait patiently.  You'll thank me for it. 

Some online sources for cheesemaking supplies that I have friends that use are:

New England Cheese Making - this is Ricki Carrol's site.  She has a great book called "Home Cheesemaking" which you can find many places....even Tractor Supply!

Glengarry -  Homestead Heritage gets alot of their supplies here. 

I am sure there are other sources, just google cheese making and see what pops up.

I am out of here.  I have a cow to milk and the longer I wait, the more she shows signs of Mad Cow Disease (that post to come later).

Prairie Kerri


  1. Thanks for clearing up the "rennet" section. Maybe one day I will get the notion to make cheese but as of yet it has not come to the top of my list! But friends that make cheese are at the top of the list, since I am in awe that it can be done. One day I can see the possibilities of Prairie Kerri Cheese! the first one will for sure be Muenster or is that El Muenster? :)

  2. Is the translation of El Muenster....the Monster? =) keepin' it real....