Turning Milk To Curd

What is rennet, and why does it matter?

Turning Milk To Curd

What is the big deal about rennet, and what part does it play in the cheesemaking process?

Cheese is traditionally made with milk, salt, cultures and rennet. Rennet allows cheesemakers to efficiently turn fresh milk into curd, a technique they’ve been using for thousands of years. Over time, milk curds on its own, but by that time, the milk may sour. Rennet speeds up this process so proteins in the milk form curd, and the liquid separates and run off as whey.

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Slave To The Curd

Confessions of a cheeseaholic from Down Under

Slave To The Curd

I should have taken up yoga. Isn’t that what a good mother does these days? Prance around in tight, velvet pants, sipping kombucha and discussing terrifying things like the “downward dog?” That would have been the trendy thing to do. But due to my passion for cheese, I could never pull off those tight, velvet pants. So for my mid-life hobby, I bypassed the yoga. Instead, I became Slave to the Curd.

My husband Peter and I live in New Zealand, a land where top-quality milk is abundant but good imported cheese is not. It is possible to buy French Camembert at our local grocery store, but the price — once it has passed through the hands of several importers — is tragically prohibitive. For awhile we made do by purchasing “expired” cheese, because a Stilton that is rotten by New Zealand standards comes close to approximating a stinky Roquefort. But in the end, these were pale substitutions, and I never could scratch my cheese-loving itch. Continue reading →