Word of Mouth: Rennet

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Rennet [REN it] n. Substance containing the active enzyme rennin, key to digesting and coagulating and milk.

Rennet is a set of enzymes that coagulates milk, separating it into curds and whey. It's an aid to milk digestion, and it's found in every mammalian stomach.

It's also an essential part of the cheese-making process. Traditionally, cheese was made with rennet extracted from calves' stomachs, but this method is rare now and most cheese producers use non-animal substitutes made from plants or fungi as coagulants. Rennet made a big splash in the news this week...

Mars' parent company Masterfoods had British vegetarians in an uproar this week when it announced a switch to rennet in their chocolate products. The backlash was so intense that yesterday they announced a change of plans and said they plan to keep their chocolate free and clear of animal products.

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.