Quark is a German fermented milk product with a creamy texture which is classified as an unaged, soft cheese. It tastes somewhere between sour cream and yogurt - but is a little sweeter than both and without the tang. It’s a delicious and versatile dairy ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Many traditional German recipes bake with it, but it can also be enjoyed straight from the fridge like homemade yogurt or dolloped on cakes or savoury dishes in place of cultured sour cream. The possibilities are endless!
Quark is very popular across Europe but hard to find in other parts of the globe (and often expensive when you do). For those with a nostalgic longing (or simply curious) the good news is, it’s very easy to make at home. If you’ve ever made yogurt cream cheese the process of making quark is very similar but even easier. You don’t even need to heat the milk! With a Luvele yogurt maker the set and forgot incubation process is completely failsafe and stress free.
Cultured dairy products are defined by the starter culture bacteria used. Homemade yogurt requires specific thermophile starter culture bacteria while quark is milk that has been inoculated with mesophile bacteria - better knownas buttermilk cultures. Depending on the quality of the buttermilk, somewhere between a quarter and a whole cup may be needed as a starter culture. Unfortunately, it is hard to know how ‘live’ with bacteria store-bought buttermilk is. We used one cup of buttermilk to ensure healthy bacteria were present and inoculated for 24-hours to allow enough time for the bacteria to multiply.
Note: It’s important to read the ingredients on store-bought buttermilk to make sure it actually contains ‘cultures’ and does not contain other additives. Low-fat buttermilk is not successful.
Buttermilk fermentation does not set like homemade yogurt. After fermentation, our milk remained thin and resembled a cultured milk drink. The second step in making quark is to remove the whey. This is done by straining the cultured buttermilk through a muslin cloth to drip off the whey. You can strain the quark until you reach the consistency you like but straining 6-8 hours or overnight produces a firm, thick and creamy texture. The process leaves you with a lot of whey! See these tips for how to use whey.
Before you begin, sterilise the yogurt making glass jar, lid and any utensils you use, in boiling water. The danger of not sterilising is that other bacteria may overpower your culture and affect the quality of your yogurt.
1 litre of organic full cream milk (whole milk)
1 cup of buttermilk with live cultures
Makes: 1 ½ - 2 cups of quark, depending on the length of time it is dripped.
1. Pour the milk into the yogurt making glass jar.
2. Add 1 cup of buttermilk to the milk then stir to combine.
3. Put the lid on the glass jar and place into your yogurt maker. Pour water slowly into the base. The water must not be filled over the ‘tall line’ indicated on the inside wall of the maker. Place the cover lid on top. Use the digital control panel to set the temperature to 36° C (97° F), the time to 24-hours and then press ‘confirm’ to begin incubation.
4. After 24 hours the fermentation is complete. Switch the yogurt maker off. Condensation will have collected under the cover lid. Take care removing it and allow the water to drip into the water bath, instead of your bench!
5. Remove the jar from the water bath and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours to chill.
6. Once chilled it will resemble curdled milk. Curds will have formed but it will be thin.
7. Prepare the cultured milk to be strained. Lay a clean square of muslin cheese cloth in a colander or sieve over a deep bowl to catch the whey.
8. Pour the cultured buttermilk into the sieve and allow it to drain anywhere between 3-8 hours (or overnight) in the fridge.
9. When the draining is complete, lift out the cloth and fold the cheese into a bowl.
10. Store fresh quark in a glass air-tight jar for 7-10 days.