Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World. Quark
Quark is a very interesting type of dairy product that you won’t find anywhere else but in Germany. It is a very interesting combination of soft cheese and thick yogurt. But, even if may resemble yogurt, it is not considered a yogurt in Germany, but more a fresh cheese type, which is consumed shortly after being made, without passing it through any aging process. Due to its thickness, quark isn’t consumed just for breakfast, but also as a snack or dessert, or a topping to a warm dish, like potatoes. It has a pleasant soft texture and mild taste, not being sour and tangy as yogurt is. And the best part of it is that you can eat it in any way you like. You can add fruits and granola to it or consume it as a spread, on a slice of bread, with a pinch of salt and a few slices of cucumber. The Germans also use it to prepare a specific type of cheesecake.
Preparing quark at home is not difficult at all, although it requires a bit of attention. To make quark, you will have to heat the soured milk until the desired level of coagulation is reached, then drain the excess liquid and enjoy the newly obtained fresh cheese. But, let us get into more details. The milk will have to be pasteurized, which means that it will have to be brought near to the boiling point so that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Then starter cultures containing mesophilic Lactococcus are added to the milk and it is left to get sour at room temperature. The curd has to be stirred rather often so that large and hard clumps are not formed because a soft and uniform texture is desired. In case you are using skimmed milk, you can, later on, add sour cream if you want the quark to have fattier content.
You can also make quark with buttermilk, which will give it a soft sweet taste. For 1.5 liters of fresh milk, you will need 350 ml of buttermilk. You will have to heat the milk and allow it to reach the simmering point by using low or medium heat levels. Don’t forget to stir in it rather often, to avoid the formation of a thin film at its surface. Once it starts simmering, turn off the heat and take the pot off the stove, allowing the milk to cool down until it reaches room temperature. Add the buttermilk to the cooled milk and use a whisk to homogenize the content. Move the mixed content from the pot into glass jars or containers, and cover them with clean towels. Then allow it to sit in a warm place to ferment. Bear in mind that the fermentation can take between 12 and 36 hours, depending on the environmental temperature. If the day is warmer, 12 hours may be enough, but if not it may take longer. Don’t panic if your quark is not ready in 24 hours and allow it to sit even more. It may be useful to put the glass containers near a heat source, like your stove, as it may speed up the process.