A cheese commonly found in Europe, with a name from outer-space, is making its way to the USA. The cheese is called quark cheese. The name “Quark” is German for “fresh curd.” Quark cheese is produced by warming soured milk until the necessary degree of curdling is met. Quark cheese is fresh acid-set cheese, but some countries consider it a fermented milk product.
An acid-set cheese means the cheese is made without the aid of rennet. Today's quark, however, is made with the use of some rennet, creating more flexibility in the resulting product. German-made quark is continually stirred to prevent it from getting too hard. No matter how or where it’s made, quark is a unique cheese. It has the firmness of sour cream, but it is drier. It is crumbly, like ricotta, but has a smooth and creamy texture.
Also unique is how quark is made. Quark is made by hanging the cheese in loosely woven cotton gauze called cheesecloth where the whey can drip off.
Is quark new to you? You have not been living under a rock if you have not heard of quark before. More proof that quark is not big cheese in the USA. There's a lot of substitutes for quark. Truth is quark got lost in translation according to Ruth over at The Cheese Farm. It’s true.
Fly over the Atlantic Ocean and in mostly German-speaking, Eastern European Countries, quark is produced and consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In Latvia, for example, quark is eaten savory mixed with sour cream and scallions on rye bread or with potatoes.
Europeans make soft, chunky curds, giving quark a texture similar to ricotta, while most US brands are stirred to be as smooth as (or smoother than) anything in the yogurt aisle. Its low butterfat content and smooth texture make it a great base for fluffy cheesecakes and mousse.
Quark cheese is not just for eating. In Switzerland, quark is recommended by some physiotherapists as an alternative to ice for treatment of swelling associated with sprains. CNN reported that American skier, Lindsey Vonn, in the 2010 Olympics hurt her ankle on the slopes and used topfen, another name for quark cheese, to wrap around her leg instead of ice. The headline, "The Olympic favorite has been wrapping her injured shin in an Austrian cheese -- topfen -- to reduce inflammation."
CNN also noted comments from a Beverly Hills cheese shop owner about topfen/quark. “Norbert Wabnig, an Austrian and the founder of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, said the cheese is not popular with his customers.” Times are a changing, Norbert.
According to DietVsDisease.org, "Quark is the next big thing in nutrition." How? "It’s tasty, filling, and it dominates Greek yogurt in just about every nutritional aspect." It's because of how quark is made. "Quark can range from 1% to 40% fat; the rest is protein (80% of which is casein), calcium, and phosphate." Additionally, Quark, compared to other cheese, contains very little salt, and is one of the reasons it's a much healthier alternative to ricotta and cottage cheese.
Quark has many selling points.
- Quark has less salt than cream cheese
- Quark has more protein than Greek yogurt
- Quark is not quite cheese and not quite yogurt
- Quark is simple to make and can be made in a weekend
- Quark is not an extremely expensive cheese
- Quark has a fancy appeal since Europeans eat it
- Quark is good for you
Sounds great, right. Not so fast. The problem with quark is finding it. There are only a few producers who make it. In my local cheese shops, I have not found quark, until recently. A small creamery in Sweet Springs, MO, called Hemme Brothers, is making quark and it's finally made its way to Parkville, MO.
Look for Hemme Brothers quark in HyVee. Also, At Vino Pair, we pair Hemme Brothers quark to make an incredible “Lox Bite” pairing.