I think every country person of my era grew up eating junket as cows were aplenty and therefore milk was abundant. How easy to make a dessert with a couple of cups of milk, a junket tablet and some sugar? Easy, mostly healthy, cheap.
It is decades since I ate junket and, to be honest, I didn’t know if the supermarket would still stock the tablets. But they did, to everyone’s surprise! Junket is a little like custard, a little like flan filling, a little like sweet tofu, but it is none of these. It is a milk-based dessert, made with vegetable rennet, usually sweetened and flavoured. Today I am topping it with some macerated strawberries and passionfruit.
I think it’s about time for junket to make a come back, for it’s a delicious dessert, with a fantastic texture. Junket can be flavored with a variety of milk spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, or allspice, ginger, and mace. It can be made with any type of milk, be it cow, goat or sheep. And it can be spike with cream or spirits to make a more celebratory dessert. – David Asher.
Did you know that junket actually used be served to the sick in hospitals? It is so nutritious and also easy to digest, so it was perfect hospital food. Why have so many hospitals changed to unhealthy desserts these days?
The name of junket comes from the fact that it used to be made in a rush basket, the Medieval Latin word for which is iuncāta, the French jonquette and the Middle English jonket.
Predecessors of junket were made as early as Medieval times where a cream-and-rennet mixture, sweetened and flavoured with rosewater, sugar, and spices, was an upper-class food, served to those among noble ranks. Since then it has fallen in and out of flavour. But I can tell you it is back in favour at our place!