Quark is a specialty fresh cheese common to Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and several other European countries. It is not very common in the U.S., and purchasing it can be an expensive proposition unless you live near a dairy that makes it. For all that, it is easier to make than yogurt and requires no special equipment.
- 4 cups milk (any fat percentage)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried quark culture (or 3 tablespoons buttermilk with live cultures)
- Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rennet
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the milk in a large pan with a tight-fighting lid to about 160 F for at least 30 seconds. It is fine if it has a skin on it. It is also fine if it comes to a boil for a few seconds, but that is not necessary.
Put the lid on the milk and let the milk cool to room temperature.
Using a whisk that is very clean (boil it or take it out of a hot dishwasher), whisk 1/4 teaspoon of the bacterial culture (in powdered form) into the milk until it's dissolved. If you are using buttermilk, stir it in instead of the freeze-dried culture.
Replace the lid and let the milk sit undisturbed at room temperature for at least 6 hours or follow package directions. If you are using buttermilk, you might have to let the culture sit for 18 to 24 hours. The amount of bacteria in the buttermilk is less than in the freeze-dried product, and it takes longer for it to grow.
Once the milk has soured and curdled, you can strain it. (If you do not strain it, it is "Dickmilch," or cultured buttermilk, which many people like to drink.) Layer a sieve with cheesecloth or a loosely woven cotton towel. Whichever one you use must be clean and preferably boiled. Pour the "Dickmilch" into the sieve and allow it to drain overnight in the refrigerator. You might need to stir it to get the quark to drain thoroughly. You can also use a special strainer if you prefer.
Rennet is used in cheese to curdle the milk and separate the whey. If desired, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 tablet of rennet, dissolved in a little water, to your milk at the beginning or after your culture has soured if you want it to be more curdled. You can find rennet near the pudding section of the grocery store.
Serve and enjoy!
- Milk can be pasteurized, but do not use ultra-pasteurized milk or “H-Milch."
- Quark bacteria are mesophilic and love a temperature of 60 to 85 F, whereas yogurt bacteria love body temperature (98 F).