Quark is a specialty fresh cheese common to Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and several other European countries. It is not very common in the US, and purchasing it can be an expensive proposition unless you live near a dairy which makes it. For all that, it is easier to make than yogurt, requiring no special equipment.
Makes one cup stiff quark.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes
- 4 c. milk, any fat percentage
- EITHER - 1/4-1/2 tsp. freeze dried quark culture
- OR - 3 T. buttermilk with live cultures
Milk can be pasteurized but do not use ultra-pasteurized milk or "H-Milch".
Use a large pan with a tight fitting lid. Heat the milk to about 160°F (72°C) 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. Quark bacteria are mesophilic bacteria and love a temperature of 60 to 85°F, whereas yogurt bacteria love body temperatures (98°F).
Using a whisk which 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 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. Because my room temperature is 65°F, I actually put it on the satellite receiver in the living room. The receiver is warm and kept up the temperature a little bit. There is no need to put it into the oven or in a yogurt maker.
If you are using buttermilk, you may have to let the culture sit for 18 - 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 clabbered, you may 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. Either must be clean and preferably boiled. Pour the "Dickmilch" into the sieve and allow it to drain overnight in the refrigerator. You may need to stir it to get the quark to drain thoroughly.
You may use the whey in bread making or to drink. I've never used it to make ricotta cheese, but that may be possible as well.
For straining quark or yogurt (to make yogurt cheese), you can use a clean, thin kitchen towel or muslin, cheesecloth, or a special strainer like the one shown here:
Using rennet. Rennet is now produced by recombinant bacteria which have the bovine gene for rennet. As such, little calves are no longer killed to make rennet. There is also a purely vegetable rennet for sale. Rennet is used in cheese to curdle the milk and separate the whey. 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. Since the milk curdled nicely without the rennet, I chose to leave it out at this point. You can find rennet near the pudding section of the grocery store. It is called Junket Rennet tablets.
You may want to save more money by keeping the culture going. Take a few tablespoons of quark for your next batch. You can do this five to ten times before the quality of the culture goes down.