I’ve made ricotta before. It’s all the rage in the food community these days, with those taking the plunge posting their newfound discovery with a mixture of wonder and joy. I use the recipe on 101 Cookbooks, which has never failed me. However, I’m also fond of the fresh ricotta at Henry’s. I know, it’s not really “fresh”, but it’s better than the supermarket tubs.
Anyway, I had to test a recipe for fresh cheese and it called for rennet. While we won’t go into the debate of how rennet is made and whether or not you should use it, I had never purchased it simply because I’d never seen it. If you ever want to delve into the cheesemaking world, you typically need rennet to make the recipes work. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find all sorts of tidbits about how rennet (the Junket brand) is easily found in most grocery stores. Near the custard mixes. Well, I don’t know what kind of grocery stores exist around the country, but I can tell you that my big-box grocery stores (Vons, Ralphs, Albertsons) not only omit “custard mix” from their shelves but there is certainly no spot for Junket rennet. Jello desserts abound, but nothing by Junket. It seems like one of those old-fashioned things that your grandma might have used, certainly not found in the modern, all-natural, organic kitchens you hear about today.
I would have ordered it from the Junket website, but shipping would have cost $7 – over 4 times the price of the rennet itself! I was *this* close to ordering it on Amazon, even though I had no idea what I would do with 3 boxes of the stuff. I finally made one last trip. I’d read that people were finding rennet at Whole Foods. Figuring that perhaps the “health food” store would do, I searched the aisles on Henry’s. No luck. Then I had a thought. Sure, it’s probably not the most politically correct thought and proponents of the store may balk and call me names, but I had the idea to look in Stater Bros. I call Stater Bros. the ghetto grocery store because that’s how it feels. It doesn’t have the nice, new feel of the fancy Scripps Ranch Vons or the Carmel Mountain Ralphs. And, demographic sterotyping be damned, the clientele in Stater Bros. is very different. Even going to the run down Vons across the street (that often runs out of milk and whipping cream) feels all fancy and posh in comparison. In any case, my yuppie, snobby brain thought that perhaps this grocery store that feels like it’s stuck in the 1970s would also carry the old-fashioned grocery items from days of yore.
And they did. Not only did they carry Junket rennet, but Junket ice cream mix as well. So, there. While my suspicions about Stater Bros. have been mildly confirmed, I’m also kind of happy about it because now I know where to go for rennet.
Incidentally, the cheese recipe came out pretty great. Now I’m curious about making “mozzarella” and other cheeses. Can you imagine a caprese salad made of homegrown heirloom tomatoes, garden basil, and freshly made mozzarella?? Oh, yum!