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Microbial rennet for vegan cheese
Tuesday, 04 October, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr Ayushi Verma
Rennet is an essential element of the cheesemaking process and is used to coagulate, or thicken, milk into curds. Rennet traditionally comes from animals. Specifically, it is an enzyme called chymosin or rennin that is taken from the stomach lining of a calf, ewe, or kid (baby goat). The use of animal rennet to make cheese can be a problem if you're a vegetarian. Although it is less common, vegetarian-friendly cheese made from rennet derived from plants or microbial rennet is available. When this type of rennet is used, it makes the cheese vegetarian. Demand for microbial coagulants is also expected to increase as vegetarian diets and non-animal sources increase.

Microbial Rennet
Microbial rennet is a coagulation factor produced by living microorganisms such as fungi, mould, or yeast. These organisms grow in a controlled laboratory environment and are monitored for the production of the right amount of fungus, mould, or yeast, and no fungi will be present in the final product.

Enzymes are needed to coagulate milk and separate it into whey and curds, which is an important step in the cheese production process. Some moulds have enzymes that are similar to chymosin. These enzymes are extracted in a lab to make microbial rennet. Proteolysis is usually considered as the main biochemical process when cheese ripens and one of the most important factors for the growth of the typical flavour of the cheese. Rennet is one of the proteolytic factors involved in cheese production.

Microorganisms substitute for calf rent
Well-known microorganisms are used to produce rennet, which can replace calf (animal) rennet. In the production of cheese, some microorganisms such as Aspergillus oryzae, Rhizomucormiehei, Rhizomucorpusillus, Endothiaparasitica, and Irpexlacteus are widely used to prepare rennet. Worldwide, rennet from microorganism constitutes 30% of the whole cheese produced. Microbial coagulants have good taste profiles. In addition, the cheese produced from these coagulants has a high shelf life and is free of the bitter taste.

Benefits of Microbial Rennet
    • Less Expensive: Compared to rennet produced from animals, generally veal, microbial rennet is much less expensive to produce. This means that the cheeses made using microbial rennet cost less to produce.
    • Vegetarian: This type of rennet is not derived from animals, meaning vegetarians are allowed to consume it.
    • Organic:  Readily available with organic labeling.
    • Kosher: Readily available with Kosher certification.
    • Extended Shelf life:  Most animal rennets have a 2-3 month shelf life while most microbial rennet will last up to 24 months.

(The author is a product development manager and can be reached at
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