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Low-Fat, Homemade Quark Cheese

Updated on September 14, 2014
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Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Did you say... Quark?

Although some people might think of physics particles or even an old 1970s science fiction television show when they hear the word "quark," what this Hub is talking about is a great, low-fat cheese which you can make at home yourself.

Quark is European in origin and is found in the cooking traditions of nearly every Scandinavian and Norther European country. The name is German (which translates to "curd"), although you will sometimes see it spelled "kwark" which is Dutch. The next most common name is "topfen" (pot cheese) which is what the Austrians call it. In the United States there are a variety of cheeses which are sort of like quark and yet none of them are really quark.

This soft cheese is made without rennet (the lining of calves' stomachs, which some people find objectionable) and can have a texture anywhere in between yogurt and a dry ricotta cheese depending on how you make it. It is very multipurpose, and you might find it referred to as pot cheese or white cheese depending on the recipe you are using.

It can be used as a spread, eaten by itself or cooked into a variety of dishes. When it is eaten as a straight-up cheese, it is often topped with fruits or nuts which compliment it's light and tangy flavor. Quark can be made so that it only has about 0.2% fat per serving, but some variations can run as high as 60%.


Preparation and Cooking Time

Prep time: 2 hours 30 min
Cook time: 12 hours
Ready in: 14 hours 30 min
Yields: yield depends on amount being prepared

Ingredients

  • a large, covered, oven-proof baking dish
  • one quart buttermilk
  • large strainer or colander
  • cheesecloth

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4 stars from 3 ratings of Quark Cheese

Quark Cheese Instructions

  1. Pour the buttermilk into the baking dish, cover and set in your oven overnight, with the heat as low as you can get it (most often 100˚-150˚ depending on your oven). In the morning, you will find the milk has curdled gently. The curds (lumps) are what will become quark. The clear-to-whitish fluid is whey, and you can drain that off and save it for other cooking purposes.
  2. Line the colander or strainer with the cheesecloth (or a clean dish towel if you don't have cheesecloth), and pour the curds into it, allowing it to drain for several hours. The drained cheese is your quark.
  3. The soft, spreadable cheese you get when the curds and whey are done draining is the quark. It's often like yogurt or sour cream when you first strain it. If you want something more like a cream cheese, drain it a bit longer. For a texture more like cottage cheese, press it gently for a little while by putting a bowl filled with water on top of the cheesecloth bundle. And for a ricotta-like version, squeeze out even more liquid. If you press it very hard, you can get it to form a solid wedge.
  4. Once drained and/or pressed, you can store it covered in the refrigerator. This fresh cheese has a short shelf life, so be sure to use it within a week of making it.

Unbleached Cheesecloth

Beyond Gourmet Extra-fine Cheesecloth, 100-Percent Cotton, 2-Square Yards
Beyond Gourmet Extra-fine Cheesecloth, 100-Percent Cotton, 2-Square Yards

This is what you use to strain your cheese. It can be washed and reused, but it's good to keep extra on hand for a variety of kitchen projects.

 

Substituting Quark in Other Recipes

Because you can vary the moisture and texture when you cook with quark, it can be used in place of many other forms of cheese. The main benefit of quark is the low-fat content. It also is made without salt.

Try quark in place of:

  • farmer's cheese
  • pot cheese
  • cream cheese - spread quark on bagels and top with lox
  • mascarpone
  • ricotta cheese - try quark in place of ricotta in a lasagna
  • cottage cheese - press it moderately until you get a texture that matches how moist or dry you like your cottage cheese
  • sour cream - try some quark on top of your baked potatoes
  • yogurt - it's most like traditional Greek yogurt when left a bit more moist


Quark Comments and Contributions

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    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 12 months ago from Seattle, WA

      I have a batch going now. I like it in the spring and summer.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 12 months ago from the short journey

      I used to make something like this with local goat's milk but have not in a long time. You've made me think that maybe it's time to have some on hand again. I knew for sure what the ingredients were (and were not) and it really is very versatile, adding extra richness to desserts. Thanks!

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      If you know the starting butterfat content of your milk, you should be able to figure out that same content for your cheese.

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      Jill Moore 2 years ago

      I'm on a healthy eating plan and I buy a lot of quark currently. I use it mixed with fruit (and low-fat drinking chocolate!) to satisfy my sweet tooth which is considerable! I'd love to have a go at making my own. Is there a way to know the fat content of the quark you make yourself? I'd be pitching for the o.2% fat end of the scale rather than the 60% ! I suppose it depends on the buttermilk.

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I find quark substitutes into more recipes than sour cream because the taste is more mild.

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      Kellsay O. 2 years ago

      I found this at the store today! Im always looking for new yogurts but am pleasantly surprised by this elli quark cheese. Definitely going to try some chives with the plain one and use it on some potatoes. Such a great flavor!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 2 years ago

      I remember as a child making Qwark in Germany...we used it to make cheesecake...I never knew they sold it here, will have to look for it.

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      EDE, Probably. I would think it could come down to your temperature controls. If you can keep the milk at the right, low temp, it should work just fine. The two dairy products are very similar.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 2 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      I am wondering if I can use my EasiYo yoghurt maker instead of the oven to curdle the buttermilk?

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      It is heated, but does fall below the heat threshold such that it still is considered raw.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I was sure you were going to have to cook this to get it to curdle. I was surprised that you leave it in the fridge. Will try!

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      If you can get milk, you can make quark!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I didn't realise just how easy quark was to make! Now that I live in Germany, it's easy to find, but it was impossible in Australia. Wish I'd found this recipe sooner!

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 6 years ago

      This is a real interesting topic

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Chasuk, if you can find raw milk (which might be easier in South Korea vs the US), you can let that age and turn to buttermilk and then make quark from there.

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      Chasuk 6 years ago

      I'm living in South Korea currently, and I don't think I've seen buttermilk here. Maybe I'll find it at Costco.

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Chasuk, you should be able to find buttermilk without too much trouble in US supermarkets.

    • profile image

      Chasuk 6 years ago

      Thank you! I lived in England for about 11 years, and I would buy Quark at Sainsbury's all of the time. I loved it as a low-fat spread under my beans (on toast).

      I couldn't find it anywhere in the US, and it doesn't exist in South Korea, either. Now I can make it at home, assuming that I can find the buttermilk.

      Thanks again!

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Very good informative hub. Thanks.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 6 years ago from New Mexico

      Bookmarked for future reference! Great information!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I don't think I'll make it myself but I may pass it on the someone who might be interested.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      I love it because you can mix it with cut finely chive or sugar and it makes a lovely tasting spread.

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Very nice. thanks.

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