Cheesemaking is an ancient art that has been practiced for thousands of years. While traditional methods of making cheese involve using animal-based rennet, there has been a rising demand for vegetarian alternatives. This demand is partly driven by those who are vegetarian or keep Kosher, but it is also due to modern lifestyles that don’t rely on the young animals that animal rennet comes from.

Cheesemaker Claudia Lucero with young goat kid at Terra Farma

One reason we have always used vegetarian rennet tablets in our DIY Cheese Kits here at Urban Cheesecraft is because we understand that beginners may not make cheese weekly and animal rennet expires much faster.

Our cheesemaking kits are designed to set aspiring cheesemakers up for success, and we do not want expired or weak rennet to be a factor they must think about or run into at all.

Whether you're a new or experienced cheese enthusiast who does not want to find that the animal rennet they purchased expired after just 6 months, vegetarian rennet tablets may be your answer. We focus on teaching hassle free cheesemaking and in this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of vegetarian rennet tablets and how they are a part of our formula.

Blister pack of 10 rennet pills or Vegetarian Rennet tablets sold by Urban Cheesecraft

What Are Vegetarian Rennet Tablets Anyway?

Rennet itself is a complex of enzymes used to coagulate milk during the cheese making process. Traditional rennet is derived from the stomach lining of young ruminant animals (cows, goats, sheep and other mammals that chew the cud regurgitated from its rumen, one of their four stomach compartments - in case you ever wondered where "to ruminate" comes from, ha!).

In a farm that breeds ruminants and uses every part of the animals as much as possible, this can be a complete system.

Cheesemaker Claudia Lucero with young calf at Terra Farma

Alternatively, vegetarian rennet tablets are made from microbial sources or plant-based enzymes, making them more accessible in many circumstances.

While rennet-like plants exist and are used around the world, they are not the same. Thistles are used in Spain and a type of berry is used in Mexico for example. They each impart their own flavor in those regional cheeses.
Similarly, variety of acids like vinegar, lemon juice and whey are also used to separate curd from whey around the world, but this is an entirely different process to that of rennet enzymes. Cheeses like ricotta and paneer are made using acids while cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar require rennet.

Why Do We Choose Vegetarian Rennet Tablets for our DIY Cheese Kits?

Mixed Groups & Mixed Diets: We know that like ours, some families and groups of friends may have a mix of omnivores and vegetarians. We want our new cheesemakers to be able to share their home crafted cheeses with everyone and the cheese made with this rennet is considered vegetarian cheese. Of course, if we have lactose-intolerant family, or vegan friends, they will enjoy our dairy-free collection for vegan cheeses. We didn’t want to leave anyone out!

Shelf Stable: Our vegetarian rennet tablets are shelf stable for one year and 4 more years if stored in the freezer! Animal rennet can have a 6-month shelf life even if refrigerated. It is notorious for expiring so kind of like old bread yeast that can make your bread fail, animal rennet can fail to coagulate milk. This is heartbreaking – especially for beginners. It wastes milk, money and time and it is discouraging. We hate waste. We don’t want to do it and we don’t want you to have to do it either. Our vegetarian rennet tablets do not have to be refrigerated at all. They can remain viable at room temperature for over a year and their strength can be extended by several years if stored in the freezer.

Easy to Use: The tablets are scored into fourths making it easy to portion them out. You can use a sharp knife or if you plan to make cheese often, a $2 pill cutter found at a pharmacy makes this even easier. Though with our recipes, that level of precision is not necessary. We usually call for ¼ tablet per one gallon of milk. You dissolve that in a little cool water just so the rennet can distribute into the milk evenly. Very, very easy.

cheesemaker Claudia Lucero shows vegetarian rennet tablets or pills cut and dissolved in water for use in cheesemaking

More Tips for Using Vegetarian Rennet Tablets

Follow the Instructions: Always read and follow the instructions of a reputable source (kit, book, recipe online, package – whatever it is) when making cheese and when measuring rennet (of any kind). The dosage and usage may vary depending on the type of cheese you're making and there are reasons for that.

Store Properly: Keep your vegetarian rennet tablets in a cool, dry place to maintain their potency and shelf life for a longer period. The freezer makes things easy. We keep our tablets in a small jam jar and mark the purchase date on the jar with painters’ tape.

The world of cheesemaking has endless possibilities for creativity and innovation BUT, having a solid understanding of the core basics ensures your success. Rennet is one of those core basics.

If you have not made cheese yet or were discouraged by your first attempts, we hope this information and our kits, books and classes for beginners set you on a great path to success.

Along with our supplies and ingredients like Vegetarian Rennet Tablets, we recommend our founder Claudia Lucero’s books, One Hour Cheese, Instant Pot Cheese and Cooking with Whey. They are amazing resources for cheesemaking that fits within today’s busy lifestyles.

Find even more information on what you need to make cheese here.
Learn more about and purchase a refill pack of our vegetarian rennet tablets here.

What's part of your cheesemaking formula for success? 


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