ficin for cheesemaking

Ficin for cheesemaking

One of Enzyme Development Corporation’s areas of expertise is the production of plant-based proteases. For example, EDC is the only producer of Papain, Ficin, and thistle rennet in the Western Hemisphere. 

Papain is the original product EDC offered in 1953 for use in the beer industry. For more information on Papain, please visit Thistlezyme (thistle rennet) and Ficin, a protease from the latex of the fig tree, are two of the newer plant-based proteases EDC now offers. Thistlezyme was introduced in 2015 after being approved for use in cheese manufacturing in the United States and Canada. EDC started producing Ficin again in 2021 after a global shortage of the raw material limited its availability to the market for a decade. The primary applications for Ficin include meat tenderization, flavor modification, and protein hydrolysis. 

After the approval of Thistlezyme for use in cheese manufacturing in the United States and Canada, EDC worked with US and Canadian cheesemakers and explored the historical references of using thistle in cheese making to understand how Thislezyme could be utilized for cheese manufacturing. 

In some historical references for the use of thistle rennet for cheesemaking, we also found a reference to the sap or latex from the fig tree being used for the same purpose. The earliest reference to fig tree sap being used in cheesemaking was in Lucius Junius Columellain’s treatise De Re Rustica (c.50bc). After conversations with cheesemakers who had tried ricotta cheese made by adding a twig from the fig tree to the milk as the coagulant, we decided to explore the use of Ficin as a coagulant.

In our application work, we compared Ficin to the thistle rennet in a Fromage Blanc cheese recipe. From Thistlezyme, we got a slightly herbal soft cheese with a dryer texture. From the Ficin, we got a very smooth cheese with a clean flavor profile similar to that of cream cheese. The attached document contains the results from our trial work. If you have any questions regarding Ficin or Thistlezyme for use in cheesemaking or would like a sample, please contact More information about Thistlezyme can also be found at

Download white paper Ficin for cheesemaking

© Enzyme Development Corporation, March 2022