What is quark?

Quark

While quark is a term that you’ll hear in some physics textbooks, it is also one that you’ll find in some cookbooks – one that comes with a very different meaning. Quark is a type of soft, fresh European cheese. It is easy to make comparisons with other dairy products, since it is similar to many other types of cheeses, but definitely unique. It is hard to find in the US but with the ever-growing popularity of cooking as a hobby, it is now appearing in more specialty markets than before, and some US dairies are even producing their own.

Quark is smooth and creamy, with a consistency similar to that of thick, greek-style yogurt or sour cream. It’s flavor is somewhere between ricotta and sour cream, with a bit of a tang to it. It is probably most similar to the popular French fromage frais, although quark is of Eastern European origin and produced in a slightly different way. The exact consistency and flavor of quark will vary slightly from producer to producer.

The reason why quark is so popular in international cookbooks is that it is extremely versatile and low in fat. It holds up very well to heat (unlike yogurt) and can be used any number of ways. For instance, it can be substituted for sour cream, yogurt and even for cream cheese in many recipes, from baked goods to quiches to dips, and because of its consistency will add a richness to dishes even though it is low in fat. If you see it in your local specialty grocery store, it is worth picking up a container to experiment with and try incorporating it into some of your own recipes.

11 comments

  1. It’s also great with just a trickle of honey and fresh fruits. I also like to spread it on fresh bread as a base for jam.

    We have Quark with almost any percentage of FDM, although

  2. less than 10%, 20% and 40% are most common. If you use low fat, it’s a great source for protein with virtually no fat. European style cheese cake is made with Quark instead of cream cheese and has a lighter texture and much less calories. Worth a try. :)

  3. Here in Germany it’s quarkmania! Most popular uses are an herbed version to go with potatoes or plain used in cheesecake – like tarts. It’s delish.

  4. If you bought this in LA, can you tell me where they carry it? I’ve bought some when visiting the bay area but haven’t seen it here. I’m wondering how it would work as part of an ice cream base.

  5. Zahra – That sounds like a good idea! I found this brand at a Gelson’s market, so check there if there is one in your neighborhood.

  6. Thanks! I’ll keep an eye for it here.

  7. Here in Finland nearly all quarks are really low in fat, around .2 % or so. It’s really popular amongst bodybuilders for being so high in protein and low in fat. Personally, I just like the taste and healthiness, and thus eat it plain for breakfast. It’s also really good with berries or fruits: one of my favourite desserts is cloudberry quark, which is made of couldberries, cream, quark and sugar.

  8. I did see a tub of quarks but I was a bit apprehensive in bringing it home. Thanks for the advice though, i will pick it up the next time I see it.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful information

  10. This became my FAVORITE food during my recent month spend in Rome, Italy. Now that I’m back in the U.S., it’s hard to adjust to life without it (great source of protein for a vegetarian). Does anybody know where I can find it in the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin? I’d LOVE to be able to have it again – I could eat it everyday! (and did in Italy)

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