What is quark cheese and why are people talking about it?
Not quite cheese and not yoghurt either, find out why cheese fans all over the world are clamouring for quark.
If ricotta rocks your world and labneh spells love, quark is a fresh cheese that you’re going to want to add to your list of favourites. A staple in Northern European kitchens, quark isn’t exactly new, but it is gaining worldwide popularity. We take a look at this ambiguous dairy product and all its spreadable, creamy goodness.
What is quark?
The Cheese Wiki (yes, it exists) defines quark as a soft, white and unaged cheese similar to fromage frais. Sometimes also likened to ricotta, it differs from true cheeses in that it’s not made with rennet. Instead, the manufacturing relies on heating up soured whole milk until it curdles, at which point the curds and whey are separated, with the end product resembling chunky cottage cheese. Derived from German, quark literally means “curd”. But while its soft and spreadable nature might draw comparisons to cream cheese and labneh, its high protein content makes it more similar to full-fat Greek-style yoghurt.
Health benefits of quark
Quark contains no rennet, making it a delicious vegetarian offering. It’s also produced without adding salt or sugars, making it popular with health-conscious foodies. Prized for its high protein value and reduced fat content (compared to cream cheese), it’s not only high in calcium but also vitamins A and B. Versions with lower fat content (no added fats) are also loaded with vitamin K2, which is an essential vitamin for retaining calcium in our bones.
A truly versatile cheese
Mild and creamy, quark can be substituted in any sweet or savoury recipe calling for a similar soft cheese or yoghurt. In Germany, it’s the secret ingredient in their decadent traditional cheesecake. Or enjoy it mixed with chives, wild garlic and parsley as an accompaniment to boiled new potatoes. Slather it on a toasted bagel or mix it with fresh fruit and top it with honey or maple syrup for breakfast or a health-conscious dessert option. Dips like tzatziki and guacamole can benefit from quark’s soft and smooth texture, while it lends lightness to bakes like pancakes, soufflés and mousses.
Where to get quark cheese
Camphill Dairy on the West Coast produces a plain quark available in select branches of Spar, delis and health stores, while the German-trained cheesemaker at St Dairy in Bloemfontein boasts plain, fruited and savoury herbed versions.