What is Quark?
Quark is a soft, velvety curd cheese with a pleasingly light tartness. It varies from low-fat versions made from skimmed milk to richer varieties enhanced with cream. Traditionally, 'quark' is German and refers to a soft, acid-curd cheese. This means the milk can be curdled through the addition of lemon juice or vinegar. Alternatively, milk might naturally sour and then be gently heated to halt the souring process, slightly solidifying the curd. Minimal draining ensures the cheese remains soft and moist.
Now, quark may be assisted by rennet, which curdles milk differently, retaining its sweetness. Typically, quark is sold with a reasonable amount of liquid whey still included, although this can be drained if you find it too moist for your needs.
How to Cook with Quark
Quark is versatile and can be consumed as is. It serves as a replacement for other spreads and provides an excellent base for dips or sandwich fillings when combined with herbs, puréed or chopped vegetables, nuts, or fish. With the addition of a touch of sugar or cream, it becomes a delightful companion to fruit.
In culinary applications, quark is most commonly used in German baked cheesecakes. It can be incorporated into any recipe that calls for it, whether baked or unbaked. You may need to adjust other components based on the moisture or acidity level of the quark.
How to Store Quark
It's best to store quark in a sealed container in the fridge. However, if you're using it as a spread, it will taste less acidic when kept at room temperature or slightly cooler.
Where to Buy Quark
Speciality shops and supermarkets frequently stock quark imported from Germany. However, you can substitute it with any type of soft cheese, whether for spreading, as an ingredient, or in baking. The primary differences will be in acidity, fat content, and moisture levels.
Quark and its equivalents are designed to be consumed relatively fresh, when their tangy flavour is most enjoyable. While modern packaging methods can extend its shelf life, it is best used promptly once opened.