Vital to the cheese-making process, coagulants cause milk to separate into curds and whey. Although acid alone is used to coagulate some fresh cheeses, such as cottage cheese; the traditional cheese-making coagulants are enzymes. The main source until recent times has been rennet extracted from the abomasum or fourth stomach of the calf. Its principal enzyme is called rennin or chymosin.

Chymosin added to milk, cleaves a specific peptide bond in casein, the most important milk protein. Casein, which exists in complexes called micelles, has four components. One of these, kappacasein, stabilizes the whole complex against coagulation, an action caused by the flocculating effect of calcium ions. When chymosin splits kappacasein, the rest of the casein micelle becomes unstable. It coagulates or gels due to the presence of calcium in the milk.

Coagulation of milk depends on the pH, temperature, casein, and calcium content. As a coagulant, chymosin has shown distinct advantages over other proteolytic enzymes (pepsin, trypsin, and papain) in producing a smooth, high-yielding curd, free from bitterness or off-flavors. High chymosin content in rennet has been shown in studies to produce better cheese yields.

Nelson-Jameson offers a variety of enzymes suitable for commercial production of cheese. They are microbial coagulants and 100% pure chymosin produced by r-DNA fermentation technology. Call our ingredient product specialists for more information or an in-plant trial.

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