Peppermint Humbug, Dickens, Blackadder, Junket, and Rennet

As we finished reading the first book of the delightful series My Naughty Little Sister, my oldest asked what a peppermint humbug was. We googled it, and we found this at Wikipedia, and that led to Dickens Christmas Carol, and that led us to Blackadder!

And soon after, we learned what junket is, that led us to rennet. Since Little House in the Big Woods, the girls have always asked me if cheese is made with the stomach of a calf, or if that was only in the old times and not now.This is what you can read if you click on rennet in Wikipedia,

Traditional method

Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into saltwater or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. After some time (overnight or several days), the solution is filtered. The crude rennet that remains in the filtered solution can then be used to coagulate milk. About 1 gram of this solution can normally coagulate 2 to 4 liters of milk.
This method is still used by some traditional cheese-makers, e.g. in Switzerland, Greece, France, Romania, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom and Alp-Sennereien in Austria.

Modern method

Deep-frozen stomachs are milled and put into an enzyme-extracting solution. The crude rennet extract is then activated by adding acid; the enzymes in the stomach are produced in an inactive form and are activated by the stomach acid. The acid is then neutralized and the rennet extract is filtered in several stages and concentrated until reaching a typical potency of about 1:15,000; meaning 1 gram of extract can coagulate 15 kg (15 litres) of milk.
In 1 kg of rennet extract, there are about 0.7 grams of active enzymes – the rest is water and salt and sometimes sodium benzoate, E211, 0.5% - 1% for preservation. Typically, 1 kg of cheese contains about 0.0003 grams of rennet enzymes.

Much to their disgust, rennet is still employed in the making of cheese! They now prefer to reminisce about the time at the park when they made ice cream than to keep discussing cheese!

6 opinion(s):

Madalen Goiria said...

Blackadder, fantastic British humour!. Can´t beat it. Best regards.

Kelly said...

I buy liquid animal rennet for making cheese, but you can also buy vegetarian rennet, which is made from an extract of mold. Which might be worse. I don't know. Anyway, there are some fairly easy to make cheeses that your girls might have fun trying. You can get rennet from New England Cheese Supply. She also sells a book on making cheese that I have. :-)

Jeanne said...

I am totally never coming to America if you can't buy humbugs and junket. Never. Never.

I do not need to read about rennet.

Silvia said...

If it looks like a liquid, they will love trying it for sure. Thanks for the link to the company. My neighbor from El Salvador, makes one type of cheese with something I did not pay attention to, it is some discs she calls them, and they add them to the milk... I will ask her, I am sure it is a type of rennet.

Silvia said...

Sure you can find those, in the speciality isle, but you can! LOL.

Luke Dolby said...

I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
Cheese Making Supplies


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