August 24, 2017

Changing Rennet for Cheese Making

For as long as I've been making cheese I've been using New England Cheesemaking Supply Company's liquid animal rennet. It's non-GMO, gives good results, and is easy to work with. (If you're interested in the different kinds of rennet, check out my "What I'm Learning About Rennet" post. Be forewarned - it might surprise you.)

Then I bought David Asher's The Art of Natural Cheesemaking(Highly recommended for those who make raw milk cheeses. You can read my review of the book here). In his discussion of rennet, he points out that liquid rennets often contain preservatives. I had to go check the label on my rennet! Sure enough, it contains salt, acetate, propylene glycol, caramel color, flavor, sodium bensoate, and potassium sorbate (but it's gluten free!) I'm usually such a reader of labels; how did I miss all that?!!

What does David Asher use? WalcoRen rennet tablets. I found the WalcoRen website and discovered it is available in powder too. David's recipes are mostly for one gallon of milk, for which he uses 1/4 tablet of rennet. I often use 1 gallon at a time too, but also I sometimes use one-half gallon or one and a half gallons. Dividing those tablets into eighths seemed like asking for trouble (for me, anyway) so I treated myself to a 250 gram jar of powdered rennet. (New England Cheese- making Supply Company now carries both of these products as well.)

Stored in the freezer it should last for a long time.

I think the powder will also be helpful when I start experimenting with homemade vegetable rennets. I'd rather experiment on smaller quantities of milk, just in case! Dividing drops is a nuisance, but the powder should be perfect. To measure it for my smaller quantities of milk, I also found and bought these...

A set of measuring spoons for 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 teaspoon. Unfortunately they don't have those measurements on the spoons themselves, rather, they put useless cutesy labels which make me think the manufacturers only make them as a novelty item. Very popular with cheese makers however!

As soon as I finish up the last of my liquid rennet I'll give the WalcoRen a try and let you know what I think!


  1. Your picture of the solar eclipse is amazing!! I can't believe we missed out by not getting solar glasses. I admire you so much for your cheese making and all that you do on your farm, and the great information you post. I know nothing about making cheese, but I've just got to have a set of those measuring spoons!

  2. Henny Penny, if Dan hadn't gotten a pair from work we would have missed out on viewing the eclipse too. I didn't realize they were so expensive! Yes, the spoons are great! Cute and functional.

  3. I miss my raw goat milk. I'll be looking forward to seeing if you like the rennet.

  4. Leigh,

    We haven't made cheese yet however, I will keep your rennet recommendation on mind for when we do make cheese.
    Thanks for share!!

  5. Thinking back to when I was first learning to cook on my own and using some of my grandmother's recipes where pinch, dash and drop were common words, those measuring spoons would have been handy. I ate quite a bit of bland or over spiced food in those days.

  6. Kristina, I love having raw goat milk to work with, especially for making kefir. We don't often drink milk, but the kefir and cheese are wonderful to have on hand.

    Sandy, it will be exciting when you do start making your own cheese!

    Ed, LOL, I wonder if the old-time cook actually had a mental image of what a dash or a pinch meant. The oldest recipes all seem to assume that the cook knew what they were talking about!

  7. henny penny another eclipse in 7 years will black out up here, ohio, instead of kentucky.

  8. Deborah, I just found out about that too. 2024!

  9. Good for you, finding an alternative to try. I hope it works perfectly. Milk and much of my diet! I would have dairy goats again if my hands were up for the milking.
    I saw a set of tiny measuring spoons similar to your and I would have bought them on the spot, except the only label was those silly "measurements" - kind of annoyed me, really. If the manufacturer was determined to hit the "cutesy" market, they could have at least included the actual measurement as well, don't you think?

  10. Very interesting and I will keep that in mind when, if I ever get my cheese making kit out and use it! I do have a set of those measuring spoons though as I used them for measuring my dye when I dyed wool for rugs. Thanks for the links too as always!

  11. Quinn, that is the number one complaint about these spoons in customer reviews. I believe Dan has an etching tool, so I may have to do it myself!

    Sam, home dying would be another great use for those spoons!


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