The reduced availability and the increasing prices of calf rennet, coupled to the growing global demand of cheese has led, worldwide, to explore alternative clotting enzymes, capable to replace traditional rennet, during the cheesemaking. In addition, religious factors and others related to the vegetarianism of some consumers, have led to alternative rennet substitutes. Nowadays, several plant-derived milk-clotting enzymes are available for cheesemaking technology. Many efforts have also been made to compare their effects on rheological and sensory properties of cheese to those arising from animal rennet. However, vegetable clotting enzymes are still partially suitable for cheesemaking, due to excessive proteolytic activity, which contribute to bitter flavor development. This review provides a literature overview of the most used vegetable clotting enzymes in cheese technology, classified according to their protease class. Finally, clotting and proteolytic activities are discussed in relation to their application on the different cheesemaking products.
Keywords: cheese; enzymes; milk-clotting; plant proteases; proteolytic activity.