Quark – it sounds like a cross between the noise a duck makes and a subatomic particle. But it’s actually a creamy soft cheese, hailed by some as the next big thing in nutrition.
What is quark?
Said to be a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese, quark is a moist, white fat-free, unsalted soft cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk. It has a subtle taste that has been likened to soured cream, and a smooth, soft texture similar to that of cream cheese or ricotta. It’s traditionally been eaten in Germany and Eastern Europe.
How is quark made?
The cheese is made by warming soured milk until it’s curdled enough, and then straining it. So it’s pretty to easy to make yourself at home.
Traditional quark can be made without rennet, but in some dairies, small quantities of rennet are added.
Is quark healthy?
Quark is low in fat and unsalted, high in protein, and also contains calcium, phosphate, and trace amounts of the natural sugar lactose, which is found in all dairy products.
It’s often used as a low fat alternative ingredient for dishes such as cheesecake or pasta sauces, and is recommended by a number of weight loss organisations and used in their recipes instead of higher fat ingredients like cream cheese.
Waitrose Quark, for example, contains 73 calories per 100g, or 44 calories per portion, with 73% protein.
The high protein means people who eat it feel fuller for longer, and the protein can help build and maintain muscles as part of a healthy balanced diet. It has between 7-14g of protein per 100g serving, compared to around 5g in regular yoghurt.
Its lack of salt also makes it a much healthier choice than other, salty cheeses such as ricotta and cottage cheese.
What’s quark used for?
Quark is a good ingredient swap for many recipes using higher fat cheese, yoghurt or cream, such as in desserts like cheesecake, or to liven up mashed potato without adding too many calories. It makes a good base for many recipes such as pastas, creamy sauces, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Higher fat varieties of quark, which often have cream added, are (not surprisingly) very creamy and smooth, and nice to eat on their own. Low-fat varieties are very thick and firm, more like a spread, which absorbs and retains flavours very well. Adding fruit or honey for example, makes a great addition to the cheese.