Rennet 101

In order to know the meaning of the term rennet, it is necessary, in the first place, to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can state that it derives from Latin, exactly from the noun “coagulum”, which can be translated as “clot”.

The concept refers to the coagulation of a milk protein called casein, a process that takes place in the stomach of mammalian animals during the lactation period from the fermentation of the mucosa.

The main component of rennet is chymosin or rennin, an enzyme that separates casein from whey. In this way the casein coagulates and rennet is formed, which is used in various ways.

One of the most important uses of rennet is the production of cheese. To make this dairy product, curdled milk from various ruminants (cows, sheep, goats and others) is used. Using rennet and bacteria that acidify the milk, different kinds of cheese are obtained.

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In addition to all of the above, we cannot ignore the existence of three different types of rennet if we take into account its origin:

-The rennet of animal origin, which is obtained from the stomachs of lactating animals and which can be of two kinds: high quality and specialization or medium quality.

-The powdered rennet, which is obtained from bacteria that have been genetically modified. It has in its favor its cheaper price compared to the other types.

-Liquid thistle rennet, which is obtained from milk thistle, specifically through an infusion made with its petals. It is vegetable and where it is most used is in the Mediterranean area.

Rennet is also the name given to different plants. One of them is the Cynara cardunculus, also known as thistle. Vegetable rennet is obtained from this plant, a coagulant that comes from its flower.

On the other hand, Galium aparine, colloquially called rennet, limpet or gardener’s love, is an herb whose seeds are ground and used to create an infusion.

In the same way, we cannot ignore that the term rennet is used with another meaning at a colloquial level. Specifically, in Andalusia it is used to refer to someone who is very calm, who goes at his own pace and who, at times, can give the feeling that he is “stunned”. An example would be the following: Manuel has a huge rennet, he begins to cross the street with a red light and without hurry.

Finally, the expression “rennet” is used when something is completely removed from the site where it was installed or rooted, either physically or symbolically. For example: “Willing to put an end to the rumours, the singer gave an interview accompanied by his wife”, “The tree was uprooted by the truck”, “You have to remove the weeds before planting”.


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