This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Devonshire Delicacy, Junket, is made thus: Put three quarts of new milk into a china bowl, add three teaspoonfuls of rennet, and place it on the hob to set. When the curd is thick enough to bear, put a layer of scalded cream on the top, with a little nutmeg, and sifted sugar to taste; do not stir it. If sherry is added, its acidity will hinder digestion. By the Levantine people, a peculiar preparation of milk is made, which corresponds to our English curds and whey, or junket. It may be produced with us by warming a basin of new milk to blood heat, and immersing therein a portion of the inner, or woolly part of the globe artichoke, and letting it stand in a warm place. After twelve hours the milk will be found transformed into a remarkable curd of excellent taste, and, if the milk was good, no whey is separated; but if it has been disturbed, then the whey will come apart. Now if a little of this curd be placed in warm, new milk, and if the same be kept awhile in a warm corner, it will transform the new milk again into Yourt, or curd, as before, and thus Yourt can be kept going throughout the season'. This production of curd by the inner flowers of the artichoke was known to the ancient Greeks, and the recipe now given is according to a notice contained in the works of Aristotle.
There is an essential difference between the clotting of milk, as in junket, and the curdling of milk as in sour milk, when the casein is simply precipitated without being at all changed. Quite the reverse is the case with clotted milk, in which the casein, or curd, undergoes profound internal alterations, and becomes (says Dr. Hutchison) practically a new substance, with new characteristics. A so-called cream cheese consisting of curd placed on rushes (juncos), so as to let all the whey drain off through them, is again a junket. Syllabubs are made by the addition to milk (or to Colostrum, the first milk which a cow gives again after calving) of wine, as Sherry, Madeira, or Port, perhaps Brandy, or, it may be, Cider, with nutmeg, or cinnamon, and sugar. A syllabub, more correctly sillabub, signifies really nothing more or less than swell-belly, swell-bouk, (Icelandic). It would appear (Reliquiae antiquce), that in the fourteenth century whey was used generally as a drink; it was known of old as Cerum, quidam liquor, whey. "Down to the milke house," wrote Pepys, in his Diary, "and drunk three glasses of whey." Halliwell tells of "Wheywhig, a pleasant and sharp beverage made by infusing mint, or sage, in butter-milk whey".
To extemporise whey, "add a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, dissolved in a little hot water, to a pint of warm fresh new milk. After straining, and cooling, it will be ready for use. The whey cure is sometimes combined with taking baths in this same liquid. Whey strained from curds produced by rennet with new milk, is a wholesome, nutritive drink, with some stimulating action on the kidneys, and is readily digested because the albuminous constituents are in solution, and by reason of the sugar of milk, as well as the mineral salts.