During several years in Germany, I discovered a cheese that looked like a kind of French cheese, but was finer than the traditional white cheese that I knew in France. The Germans call it Quark cheese (pronounced Kvark). At one time, I found some in Canada, but it did not have the texture and taste of the German Quark. After some research I discovered that this cheese is very popular in Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland and in many countries of Eastern and Northern Europe. Each country has a different name.
Tacitus, the Roman senator and historian, mentions in his book Germania under the latin name of lac concretum, which can be translated as solidified milk. In North America, Quark may be called cottage cheese or Ricotta or curd cheese. In France, the name Quark is unknown, but the French would call it simply fresh cheese. There are several kinds of Quark depending on the country where we find it. In Germany, Quark is manufactured without adding rennet. However, most dairies use rennet to accelerate the coagulation. Sometimes some cream is added for a creamy cheese and often with the addition of herbs, spices or fruit which gives a special flavour to Quark. Generally, Quark is made from cow’s milk. Recently while visiting an artisanal sheep dairy here in Ontario, (Best Baa Dairy), I discovered another kind of Quark. Best Baa’s Quark, made from sheep’s milk is a little thick to my taste, but by adding a little sheep’s milk to form a smooth paste that I mix with fresh fruit such as strawberries or blueberries, the entire treat is delicious. My daughter prefers Best Baa Quark as is, with no added ingredients. We both agree that it has a decadent taste from the high fat content of sheep’s milk. A real treat for dessert or for my breakfast!
Quark is used in cooking depending on the country where it is consumed. In France and Germany it is often used for making cheesecake (Käsekuchen in German). In Poland, Quark is called Twaróg and is used for making pierogi. I think in the not too distant future, I will try to make myself a cheesecake with Quark made from sheep’s milk.