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What is rennet and what does it do to cheese? - Emmentaler AOP Switzerland
About the function of rennet

What is rennet and what does it do to cheese?

Emmentaler AOP is made exclusively from raw milk (from cows not fed on silage), water, bacterial cultures, salt and rennet. But what exactly is rennet and what is its role in cheesemaking?

What is rennet?

Rennet is a natural curdling enzyme that is used to make cheese. It ensures that the milk curdles without becoming sour. There are two main types of rennet: animal rennet and microbial rennet.

Animal rennet

Animal rennet is a mix of the enzymes chymosin and pepsin. It is found in the stomachs of calves, where it allows them to digest their mothers’ milk. Animal rennet is extracted from the stomachs of calves that have already been slaughtered. Therefore, strictly speaking, cheese made with animal rennet is not vegetarian.

Please note: no calves are slaughtered solely to obtain chymosin.

Microbial rennet

Microbial rennet, also known as rennet substitute, is made by fermenting mould cultures. Mould cultures produce the curdling enzyme chymosin – the enzyme that can also be found in the stomachs of calves.
Cheeses made using microbial rennet are often popular with vegetarians.

Making cheese with rennet

Once the cheesemaker has heated the milk in the copper kettle and added specially selected bacterial cultures, they add the rennet. This has an important role in cheesemaking because only the rennet can transform the liquid milk into the semi-solid curd mass. In other words, this step is essential in order for the solid curds to separate from the liquid whey.

Find out more fascinating information about cheesemaking in the article How milk becomes cheese: cheesemaking in a nutshell.

Are there cheeses without animal rennet?

Yes, some cheeses are made using microbial rennet. However, because the use of microbial rennet can change the cheese’s flavour, it is not used for all varieties of cheese.

What kind of rennet is used for Emmentaler AOP?

Emmentaler AOP may be made using animal rennet or microbial rennet, depending on the cheese dairy. Want to know which cheese dairies use which types of rennet in their cheese production? Here, you can find the specific information for every Emmentaler AOP cheese dairy.

Good to know: genetically modified rennet and cultures are strictly prohibited in the production of Emmentaler AOP. We are committed to keeping our cheese natural.

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