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My experiences with rennet.

Part I

Around our farm, most buck kids do not live long. The average life span is about two weeks. At this age, most kids are only consuming milk. This makes their stomach worth saving as a source of rennet. I had never made cheese from homemade rennet. I never really wanted to but I knew it could be done.

A short piece down the road from our farm there is an Amish-type home-stead. I admire this family, although I would never choose to live their way. Going through their door is like stepping back in time 1 00 years. They have no electricity, fights are candles, and their refrigerator is a deep well. They raise all their own food. Their main income is from produce sold at a roadside stand. The father often barters work for needed items. They are the only completely self-sufficient family I know. If anyone would know how to make cheese from a stomach, they would be the ones. So, I sent a stomach to them.

They greatly appreciated this rare gem. They immediately dragged out a few how-to books from the 1800's and proceeded to make cheese. (I prayed this kid had never nibbled hay. I've had kids less than a week old nibble grain from their mother's dish.) They took fresh squeezed milk and while still warm, they added milk from the stomach. It immediately formed a curd. They drained it and were delighted with the end product. I wondered what kind of cheese they had been making without rennet.

Unwilling to waste anything, they proceeded to dry the stomach for future use.

A few weeks later, to my surprise, a small square of dried stomach was returned to me. Attached was a thank you note and "directions" for how to use my stomach. I debated a long time before I decided to make cheese.

Part II:

The cheesemaking adventure

Along with my "homemade rennet' I received the following directions:

Place a piece of stomach in a cup of water. Soak for 1 to 2 days. Add this water to fresh milk. Milk will immediately form a curd. Cut and drain curds. Makes delicious cheese.

Now I enjoy making cheese. I feel I am successful in producing both soft land semi-hard cheeses. To ensure my success, I closely follow specific directions. Before making cheese, I place all my equipment in boiling water, and replace all my kitchen towels. And I always pasteurize my milk before making cheese.

After much contemplation, I decided to try the homemade rennet. I chose to follow a more specific recipe which I had found in an old cook book

I placed a one inch square of stomach in one cup of warm water for 20 minutes. I pasteurized one gallon of milk, then reduced the milk's temperature to 90 degrees and added the water. Then I stirred well, and watched. Nothing happened. I waited for 24 hours, still no curds. I waited another day, the milk began to smell sour, but there were still no cards. I called it a failure and fed it to the chickens.

Maybe it failed because the recipe was written for cow's milk. I Know now different goat milk is in cheesemaking. Maybe I pasteurized too hot. Flash pasteurization can cause curds not to set. Or maybe I used milk infected with mastitis. Where's my CMT kit?

If a homesteader can do this on a wood cook stove, I can do it too. Try, try again.

My second attempt I decided to try her original recipe, plus a few tricks of my own.

It worked, and it wasn't too bad! When I shared it with the club members, they all said it was good. A few suggested a little more salt. The cheese didn't have a lot of flavor, probably because there is no added culture. I think the homemade rennet has a lot of possibilities.

Homemade rennet cheese

Take a one inch square of "rennet" and soak in one cup of water for 12 hours. Pasteurize one gallon of fresh milk at 145 degrees for 30 minutes; cool to 90 degrees. Add 1/2 cup of rennet water (not the stomach) stir well and set undisturbed until curd forms a clean break, about 6 hours at 80 degrees. Carefully cut the curds and cook by heating two degrees every five minutes to 90 degrees, then five degrees every five minutes to 110 degrees. (These curds are very soft and must be cooked and stirred with care.) Drain curds. Salt to taste. Add a s" amount of milk (about 1/4 cup). Cool and serve.

How to make rennet

Remove the stomach from a nursing lamb or kid that has eaten no solid food. Tie the opening securely, roll the stomach in ashes 'til well coated. Hang it to dry out of direct sunlight in a warm, dry, well-ventilated spot. Once it is completely dry, the milk inside will have become brown powder. When making cheese, pulverize a bit less than 1/4 teaspoon of the powder with a mortar and pestle. Add enough water to form a paste. Mix well. Then slowly add more water while mixing until total liquid equals 3/4 cup. For a two pound block of cheese, add one tablespoon of solution to eight quarts of milk.

Rennet from a calf stomach

Scour the stomach well with salt, both inside and outside. Tack it to a wooden frame, and dry it in the sunshine for one or two days.

Cut the stomach into 1/2 inch squares. Put the pieces in a large jar, pack them in salt (plain). Before using, soak it in water for 30 minutes and then wash it well.

To more easily remove the rennet from the curds when making cheese, tie the rennet sections together with a string before immerrsing them.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:cheese making
Author:Stelting, Judy
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Growing potatoes the easy way - under straw.
Next Article:Chickens & goats are complementary in barn and kitchen: milk and eggs - two nearly perfect foods.

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