Experienced bakers or cooks prefer to use quark cheese, especially if they want to make high-protein, meat-free meals. Quark is a creamy, un-aged cheese that resembles yogurt, cream fraiche and cottage cheese in texture and appearance. Similar to these more well-known dairy products, it can use quarks to spread it on dips, baked goods, or simply toast. It’s a good way to add extra protein, cream and a little ‘tang’ to many different recipes without adding too much sugar, salt or carbohydrates.
What is a Quark?
Quark is a creamy, fresh, sour (or “acid set”) cheese made by combining lactic acid, a type of bacteria that causes whey to separate from clots in milk. The presence of lactic acid in the quark flavor gives quark a subtle sour taste like yogurt. Most people notice that it has a mild flavor that is neither too sweet nor sour. Its texture depends exactly on how it is made and stretched, but it usually resembles a rich, thick yogurt.
Although quark has been more popular and widely used in the US recently, it has a relatively long history dating back to the 14th century in Central Europe and the Scandinavian region. Since its establishment, it has been mostly consumed in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Russia and Austria. Quark is the German word for fresh curd. (In fact, some call it Germany’s Greek yogurt.)
Although quark has become the English name for this European-style cheese, it goes by several different names around the world, such as:
- Dry curd cheese
- Farmer’s cheese
- Pot cheese
While almost always creamy and slightly tart, there are many uses of quark cheese in different cuisines, each with their own method of preparation and straining that affects the finished product.
Nutritional Value of Quark Cheese
Quark cheese is made with just a few key ingredients, including cultured milk (usually pasteurized), salt, and enzymes. Like some other healthy cheeses, quark is low in sugar and carbs, high in protein, and also a source of healthy fat. Compared to some other cheeses, it’s relatively low in calories and may contain slightly less fat depending on the type of milk it is produced from.
Quark typically contains less salt than other cheeses, including cottage cheese. Unlike some aged cheeses made with rennet (enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals), the quark does not contain rennet and is therefore the preferred choice among vegetarians.
One of the best things about quark is the presence of beneficial probiotic bacteria found in a variety of fermented foods that support digestion. Quark is made from milk fermented with mesophilic Lactococcus starter cultures and provides some added benefits to unfermented cheeses. A 150-gram serving (just over 1/2 cup) of plain, grass-fed quark contains:
• 140 calories
• 4 grams of carbohydrates
• 16 grams of protein
• 6 grams of fat
• 150 milligrams of calcium (10% of your daily need)
• 200 milligrams of potassium (6% of the daily requirement)
Because it contains a high protein content compared to carbohydrates and fats, quark adds fillers to a variety of recipes, including healthy breakfasts and desserts. Protein foods are important for keeping you full, providing energy to muscles and the brain, repairing connective tissue, and much more.
Good Source of Calcium and Potassium
Dairy products, including soft cheeses, are some of the best sources of calcium, an essential mineral essential to keeping bones strong, supporting heart and dental health, and many other functions. In addition to calcium, quark made with whole milk also provides some potassium, vitamin A, B vitamins such as B6 and B12, and some phosphorus and vitamin D.
Contains Beneficial Probiotic Bacteria
Quark is made by the fermentation process in which milk sugars are converted into lactic acid bacteria and cultures. This not only helps the milk thicken and gives the finished product a tart, pleasant taste, but also benefits for gut health. The healthy live cultures found in fermented dairy products can help fill your gut with friendly bacteria that have benefits such as supporting nutrient absorption, immune function, and even appetite control.
Contains Low Sugar, Salt and Carbohydrates
As mentioned above, quark is low in sugar, carbohydrates, and salt, so it’s a food that can be enjoyed by people following many different diets, including the keto diet (small to medium amounts), high protein diets, low sodium. Diets that can be followed may include DASH, MIND diet and others. Quark can be used instead of cottage cheese in the Budwig diet, which is a type of diet that supports the immune system and helps prevent chronic diseases due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
How to Use Quark Cheese?
Quark cheese has become more available nowadays as it is more widely available in large supermarkets and online grocery stores. German delicacies can be found at European bakeries and natural health food stores, as well as specialty cheese shops and some farmers’ markets. Are quark and cream cheese basically the same? Because quark is a strained fresh cheese, it looks a lot like old-fashioned cream cheese. However, it is creamier and slightly thicker than most commercial cream cheeses sold today.
Quark is great in both sweet and savory recipes, treating it as a healthy cooking substitute for more caloric products like heavy cream and sour cream. It is also higher in protein. Basically any recipe that requires dairy products such as cream cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese can be used instead of quark. Here are some recipes in which quark cheese can be used:
- Cheese cake and mice
- Dip sauces
- Mashed Potatoes
- Pie, cake, banana and other baked goods
- Pancakes and waffles
- Granola parfait with fresh fruit or other fruit
- Omelets, quiches and frittatas
- Curries, cream soups and stews
Quark Cheese Side Effects
Quark cheese is made with cow’s milk, so it may not be well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy. If it is noticed that eating causes symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, it should be excluded from the diet. However, it may be easier to digest than other dairy products because it contains healthy probiotic bacteria. Probably if the person can tolerate yogurt, they can also eat quarks.
Some brands can be high in sugar if flavored and sweetened, so plain quark should be preferred to keep calories and sugar in check. (Full-fat cheese made with whole milk provides the most fat-soluble vitamins, plus it usually tastes the best.) To get more of its health benefits, try making homemade cheese with raw milk packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy enzymes.
Quark is a creamy, fresh, sour cheese similar to yogurt and cottage cheese. It combines milk with lactic acid, giving it a slightly sour taste. Quark cheese is high in protein and relatively low in sugar (when sugar free), carbs, salt, and fat. It is a good source of calcium, potassium, and there are also other nutrients. Unlike old cheeses, it is not made with rennet, so it is preferred by vegetarians. It is also a good choice for people following low carb, DASH, and low sodium diets.
The use of quarks in both sweet and savory recipes gives flavor just like yogurt or cream. It can be used in baked goods like cakes and pies, topped with granola, in omelettes, pancakes, and more recipes.