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Quark (Tvarog)

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Quark (or qvark) is a fresh cheese of East European origin. Dictionaries usually translate it as curd cheese. It is soft, white and un-aged, similar to fromage frais. It is not the same thing as cream cheese or cottage cheese.

Left: Homemade Quark.

It is distinct from ricotta because ricotta (Italian: recooked) is made from scalded whey. It usually has much lower fat content (about the same as yoghurt) than cream cheeses and has no salt added.

The name comes from the German Quark, which in turn is derived from the Slavic tvarog, (Polish twaróg, Belarusian тварог, Russian творог, Czech and Slovak tvaroh) which means "curd."

Quark is a member of the acid set cheese group, meaning it is traditionally made without the aid of rennet. In dairies today, it is made with rennet. Because quark is consumed without aging, in the United States the milk must first be pasteurized. Once the milk is ready, lactic acid bacteria are added in the form of mesophilic lactococcus starter culture. Acidification continues until the pH reaches 4.6, which causes precipitation of the casein proteins. In Germany, the curd is continuously stirred to prevent it from getting hard, resulting in a thick, creamy texture.

Quark is usually sold in plastic tubs with most or all of the whey. This type of quark has the firmness of sour cream but is slightly drier, resulting in a somewhat crumbly texture (like American ricotta), and contains in its basic form about 0.2 % fat. Quark with higher fat content is made by adding cream, and is often sold flavored with herbs, spices, or fruit.

To make the firmer eastern European version, a small amount of rennet may be added to make the curd firmer.

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Some or most of the whey is removed to standardize the quark to the desired thickness. Traditionally, this is done by hanging the cheese in loosely woven cotton gauze called cheesecloth and letting the whey drip off, which gives quark its distinctive shape of a wedge with rounded edges. In industrial production, however, cheese is separated from whey in a centrifuge and later formed into blocks.

Left: Hanging the cheese to remove excess whey.

The Polish, Lithuanian and Austrian varieties contain less whey and are therefore drier and more solid than varieties common in other countries.

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In Russia (and in almost all former USSR countries) quark is known as tvorog (Russian: творог). This type of fresh white cheese is highly popular and is bought frequently by almost every family. As a result, tvorog is a member of the official minimal basket of foods.

Left: Ukrainian Vareniki. They are like Russian Pelmeni, but with Quark filling (particularly).

Quark is commonly used for cooking. Various cuisines, especially cuisines of former-USSR countries (e.g. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) feature quark (fresh white cheese) as ingredient for appetizers, salads, main dishes, side dishes and desserts.

Homemade Quark (Cottage Cheese) Recipe

 
Milk  

3 l

Soured cream 500 g
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Pour the milk into a large heavy-based saucepan and stir in the soured cream. Leave the saucepan in a room temperature for 24 hours. Then bring to the boil, gently stirring with a wooden spoon so that the milk doesn't stick to the base of the pan., then turn the heat off as large bits of cottage cheese start to form:
 

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Line a colander with muslin or cheesecloth so that it overlaps the sides. Pour off the whey, collecting the cottage cheese gently in the colander. Gently pull up the corners of the cheesecloth so that it hangs like a bag, twist the cloth to remove the excess liquid:

 

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Leave the bag to hang from your tap for several hours so the weight of the cottage cheese releases more liquid:

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Recipe source: supercook.org

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