Quark By Any Other Name.....Is Still A Curd

…and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey… Isaiah 7:22

Raw Dairy Poster What do you get when you combine three half-gallons of fresh, raw, grass-fed milk, with an extended power outage?

Curds!

And whey!

Every once in awhile, some good comes from New England’s downed power lines!

Whey, in the mind of most moderns, is a by-product of cheesemaking, dumped as waste, or fed to livestock. But, when it is made with real, raw milk – the kind cows make from eating grass – whey is wonderfully healthy with a wide variety of uses.

Just like whey, curd cheese is a simple time-honored food, having sustained thousands of generations. The most complex thing about it, other than its lactic acid microbial benefits, are the many names by which it is known

  • German – Quark (“curd”)
  • Slavic – tvarog (“curd”)
  • Polish – twaróg (“curd”)
  • Russian – tvorog (“curd”)
  • Czech and Slovak – tvaroh (“curd”)
  • Austria and Bavaria – topfen (“pot cheese”)
  • Estonia – kohupiim (“foamy milk”)
  • Polish – ser bialy (“white cheese”)
  • Luthuania – Baltas sūris (“white cheese”)
  • Southern Germany – Weißkäse (“white cheese”)
  • America – “difficult to find”

“Quark”, or “Fresh Cheese” is only produced by a handful of food processors in the United States and Canada, but is fairly common in Central Europe. White, unaged, similar to cream cheese, pot cheese or ricotta, it is a raw, fermented product, made by the natural lactic acid bacteria which results in curds. It can be drained, resulting in a drier, thicker cheese, with the whey which is drained from the Quark, used to soak grains, seeds and legumes as prescribed by Sally Fallon, one of the authors of “Nourishing Traditions”.

Some stores carry Quark, but usually, the sticker shock is so great to those who grew up eating Quark or Quarg as a part of their daily meal, that they complain all the more bitterly when the taste and texture are nothing like the real thing.

Pasteurized, dead-nutrient milk, rennet, and preservatives, used by food processors, will never offer the full, real-milk flavor as does raw, grass-fed milk.

Weißkäse, or “white cheese” was a favorite of my emigrant maternal grandparents, something they dearly missed “….in America where there is no good milk.” There is no other substitute outside the borders of Germany, from what I’ve heard from most “exile” Germans.

A chef offered helpful suggestions on replacing Quark when making a classic German cheesecake, using “…farmer’s cheese, another is to purée cottage cheese in a blender or food processor, and the third is to purée eight parts of ricotta cheese with 1 part of sour cream in a food processor. The third choice sounds like the most Quark-like option to us.”

Cottage cheese is seldom a good option for anything, typically too salty and the wrong texture. Ricotta cheese blended with sour cream is Torta di Ricotta, Italian cheesecake typically served at Easter. Somehow, I just don’t think that’s going to be a good substitution.

The Solution? Make your own Quark! It couldn’t be easier…..

Quark draining ….once you get beyond the first step. I know. A bit deflating, isn’t it to begin with what might be a daunting step for some.

Here’s the rub: Some people may have a difficult time finding raw, real, organic, grass-fed milk. Nearly 50% of the states in America have outlawed the sale of raw milk, not for any valid health or science-based reasons, (expert witnesses defend raw milk’s good bacteria!) but instead, to protect Big Business and factory-farms.

There are a number of food-search engines and “locator” tools online that can help in the search for real (raw) milk:

  • Real Milk – Provides information as to “legal” status of milk, as well as listing names of sources in “legal” states.
  • Eat Wild – Eatwild.com is your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.
  • Local Harvest – The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Leaf Divider Once you have your milk, it’s a very simple process.

Stages of Development

Milk Separating Day 1 – Place unopened half-gallon wide-mouth container of raw, grass-fed, organic milk on the kitchen counter. Walk away. Nothing is going to happen the first day, unless you have “helpful” family members who try to place the bottle back into the refrigerator. Kindly, and gently shoo them away, explaining “it’s nothing but a little kitchen science experiment”.

Day 2 – After 2 days, the bottle of milk should display two distinct layers – a thick layer of cream, floating on top a layer of milk that has a slight blueish color cast.

I skimmed off the “cream” (impossible to do with a narrow-neck jar) which had thickened to a rich, lovely, nutty-tasting crème fraîche. This could be kept out at room temperature for additional souring and thickening, if desired, or refrigerated for later, but for use within 3 days.

Day 3, The appearance is still two layers; heavier milk floating at the top one-third of the bottle; the remainder of the milk had the look of skim milk – a blueish tinge to its color. There was no whey or cheese in sight.

Day 4 We have whey! In the middle of the night, while I slept snug in my bed, with visions of cheese dancing in my head, the miracle of natural fermentation occurred. There were 3 distinct divisions in the liquid, as shown in the photo. The top third was a large clump of what looked like full-fat yogurt, creamy and glistening with moisture. The middle third was exactly as I’d hoped, green-tinged whey, slightly cloudy, but definitely having given up most of its fat molecules to the cheese. The final third was a heavier clump of cheese which had a solid appearance, of a dry ricotta.

Removing the cover, I gave it the first test – the sniff test. Again, like the crème fraîche, there was a pleasant, rich nutty aroma. A spoonful of the top cheese layer was not unlike a yogurt texture, but without a sour bite; instead, just a slight acidic essence – pleasant, well-rounded, with a soft, but rich mellowness. My husband described it as a “fuller mozzarella” flavor.

Leaf Divider Draining And Whey

Draining Set Up Draining the cheese is done one of two ways. If you have a cabinet handle or can rig up a broom handle suspended between 5-gallon buckets, simply dump the Quark into muslin or buttercloth, catching the whey into a container under the suspended bundle.

Another method, which doesn’t tie up a cabinet or microwave handle for 8-20 hours, is to build a stand for a plastic strainer. Simply invert a Pyrex 10-oz custard cup in the bottom of a glass bowl. A buttercloth, unbleached cheesecloth, or muslin lined plastic strainer
can be placed on the inverted custard cup, keeping the draining cheese up and out of the drained whey.

One of these days, I’m going to splurge and buy an Oxo convertible strainer, which has “arms” that swing up, allowing you to suspend the colander over a bowl, resting the “wings” on the bowl edge.

If you use the bowl method, make sure to drape the excess buttercloth over the top of the plastic strainer, keeping out undesirable dust, or other airborne critters – in my case, a possible wayward Cockatiel or Parakeet.

I let the cheese drain for 8 hours. The texture was like a moist cream cheese. For a drier cheese, simply drain longer.

Some people process Quark with rennet, creating a stringier, mozzarella-style cheese. Raw cheese offers such good nutritional benefits, however, that I think further processing raw, naturally-fermented Quark, with heat and rennet doesn’t make good nutritional sense.

Mozzarella may be made from unfermented raw milk. A great tutorial for getting started with rennet-style cheese-making is the University of Guelph and Frankhauser’s Cheese.

Farm families drank milk, buttermilk or whey. Whey, in particular, was recognized as a digestive aid and beneficial to the skin.(12) It was served at the spas or baths — frequented by the well-to-do for “cures” — often mixed with herbs, fruit or wine. Merrie Old England

Whey I immediately poured off the whey, after dumping the contents of the bottle into the strainer. I refrigerated the whey for later use.

  • Whey lasts up to 6 months
  • use in place of buttermilk for pancake, waffles,
  • add to batters, making an acidified solution for soaking grains, seeds, and legumes, reducing the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, as described in “Nourishing Traditions”, or at Weston A Price Foundation,
  • popular starter for lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented carrots, beets, etc.
  • add a tablespoon or two to wild bird feed, providing healthy digestive enymes
  • good source of nutrients for pets or chickens
  • use for making whey-based ricotta
  • drink it!

Leaf DividerUses for Fresh Cheese

The cheese drained for 8 hours. It still had a good amount of remaining moisture. A longer draining time would result in a drier cheese, so drying time is really determined by your need for the cheese.

  • Softer Quark can be used just like yogurt or ricotta in any recipe
  • Add herbs and salt making a vegetable or cracker spread
  • Crepe filling – I add fresh organic strawberry puree’, and 1 egg to 1 cup of Quark, mixing together and then drizzling onto a crepe while it is still on the hot pan, then rolling
  • Quark Kuchen – cheesecake!
  • Dips and Salad Dressings – may be thinned with buttermilk, yogurt for more of a “kick”, or whole-milk
  • Souffles! – I adore souffles and this is on my “Have To Make!” list

Further Reading

Health Benefits of Raw Milk

The Effect of Natural Fermented Milk in the Protection of Liver From Cancer

University of Guelph and Frankhauser’s Cheese.

Research Papers on Whey Beverages in Europe

Whey Lacto-Fermentation

German Corner Recipes

Got Raw Milk – Seattle Conscious Choice

Bacteria – Good, Bad and Ugly

Merrie Old England

Bacteria – Good, Bad & Ugly

Food Snobbery Excerpts

Food Snobbery Explained – Title says it all.

When French Women Cook

Cheese Lover’s Cookbook & Guide – Wonderfully informative cheese-primer excerpt

The Complete Book of Cheese

Sourdough Bread Cultures – From all around the world!

Expert Witness Defends Raw Milk’s Bacteria

Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products, Safety, Health, Economic and Legal Issues by Lee Dexter & Sally Fallon

Quark Souffles