Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Quark: The Recipe

Quark (01) by MeetaK

Ask any European foodie living outside Europe what they miss the most back home, the answer is most likely to be “Cheese and the variety of dairy products”. Ask any passionate foodie living in Europe what they love the most the answer is certainly going to be the same!

There are so many different types of yogurts, milk based puddings, yogurt based drinks, cream cheeses, soft cheeses and hard cheeses that the dairy section at the grocery stores makes one giddy. We truly are spoilt for choice.

There is one specific product that I have a special fondness towards – and that is quark. A smooth creamy creamy cheese readily available in Germany and very similar to the French fromage blanc or fromage frais.

Some of my friends think it's a "strange ingredient" but for those who have experienced quark will know that it works magic in all kinds of dishes from salad dressings to puddings, from sauces to cakes.

Today's post focuses on this amazing cheese and I will attempt to take the "strange" out of this ingredient for my readers and those friends ;-)

Quark literally means "curd" and is a fresh unripe cheese prepared similarly to cottage cheese. It is a low-fat curd cheese made from skimmed milk and soured with a starter culture to generate lactic acid from lactose. I am sure my Indian readers will see the similarities to our own paneer.

Quark comes in a range of fat levels from no fat, low-fat to 40 percent fat. You'll notice a visible difference between the low-fat and the 40 percent versions. Low-fat quark has a milky-white shade while quark with a higher fat content is slightly yellowish is color.

This soft cheese is made without the aid of rennet making it an acid set cheese. In Germany in is sold in plastic white tubs with the whey. The texture is very much similar to sour cream, just a little dryer and in its basic form has a fat content of 0.2 percent. Quark available with a higher fat content is often made by adding cream to it.

The eastern European version of quark is firmer as a small amount of rennet is added to the milk. The whey is removed by hanging the cheese in a cheesecloth and allowed to drip until the the whey has dripped off.

The German quark however is creamy and smooth and can be eaten plain or with nuts, herbs and garlic. It is tangy in flavor and thick in texture. Seventeen lbs of quark per person per year is consumed here is Germany and you'll find it being used in several ways like for soufflés, as dips and for the famous German quark kuchen - German cheesecake.

I often use quark in my recipes and promptly get emails or comments asking me what quark is. Living in Germany I have never found the need to make my own quark, but I too was curious about my favorite kitchen helper. So, I decided to make my own quark at home. To help me start off I turned to Tom's grandma, who has been making her own quark for decades and at the age of 86 she still makes the meanest quark cheesecake with homemade quark. The quark I made at home was nothing compared to the commercial stuff. It was more intensive and creamier than anything I have ever bought.

I do not think I can go back to store bought quark again!

The quark recipe below is the one I got from Tom's grandmother. It is uncomplicated to prepare, just takes a bit of time. The oven does most of the work and you are rewarded with a wonderfully tangy and flavorful creamy cheese.

 

Homemade Quark

Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

3.5 liters buttermilk

Method

Pre-heat the oven to approx. 65 degrees C.

Pour all of the buttermilk in a large ovenproof dish with a lid. Cover and place overnight in the oven.

The whey and curd should have separated and there should be large bits or curd.

The next morning line a sieve or a strainer with a large cheesecloth and pour the buttermilk into the cloth. You can place the sieve over a container to catch the whey, which can be used elsewhere for example in soups or to thicken sauces.

Let the mixture drain for 1 hour, then take the four tips of the cheesecloth and twist to drain any remaining whey.

Now it's time to drip the cheese. I normally tie the cheesecloth on a sturdy wooden spoon and place the spoon over a large pot or the sink with the cheese ball hanging into the pot/sink. In this way allow the quark to drip for 5-6 hours.

Divide the quark into containers and refrigerate. Depending on the way you are planning on using the quark you can pass it through a fine meshed sieve and add some cream for a creamier mixture.

 

This is a a basic recipe for quark. From here you can use it to make a peach cardamom tart, a rhubarb raspberry trifle, baked beetroot with an apple-horseradish dip or a cherry semifredo cake. If this is not enough browse through all my quark recipes for ideas and inspiration.

I hope I was able to raise your interest in this wonderful cheese. If you've used quark in your dishes before let us know what your favorite dish is. Leave a link to the recipe here. If you are planning on making quark for the first time come back and share your experience with us.

This week I'll be sharing another great recipe which uses quark as one of its main components. So, if you want to join me - start making that quark now ;-)

Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:

 


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60 comments :

  1. I love quark, I'll try your recipe.
    The oven must be at 65º all night?
    Regards from Lisbon

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  2. Nice to see a recipe for quark! Where I live
    in Australia there's an organic dairy
    (owned by Germans!) that makes it but it's
    not always avaliable, depending on how much
    milk they have. I had no idea it was so
    easy to make.

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  3. Hi Meeta,

    I only came to know of Quark few weeks ago, and have no idea how to cook with them. Do I use it like how I do with cream?

    A Malaysian in Germany

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  4. Hi Moira, Yes it has to be at a very low temperature. As each oven works differently you might have to give this a few tries before you find the perfect texture. It should not be higher than 65° C. I would suggest something between 55 - 65° C.

    Nags, Yes hope you might find the time to make it!

    Barbara, now you can exchange recipes with your German store-keepers. This is the easiest method to make it. It would be great to get a glipse of how your German store-keepers make it. Maybe you can ask them!

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  5. Lianne, not exactly. Quark is thicker and creamier more like a curd/yogurt. The most basic way I use quark would be by adding chopped fruit, honey or maple syrup. For breakfast I add granola. The more extensive use would be in a baked cheesecake or a tiramisu. Have a look at the links I have given above. You might find a bit of inspiration.

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  6. We love our dairy products too. But, you know what, somehow I had never bought quark till a couple of days ago. I just seem to overlook it. I still have half left. And yes, next time, I'm making my own. Thanks :-)

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  7. I've never heard of quark before but I've often heard of paneer which is something I definitely want to try. Thanks for sharing this family recipe.

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  8. I loved Quark in Finland - and can buy it nearby too though it's dear. Question: is German buttermilk different? The only thing I have access to in St. Louis is 1% buttermilk so very low in fat.

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  9. Quark was my accidental discoveries in the German Supermarket, I can eat it just out of the box. I usually use it as a topping for bread, mixed with berries on top of muesli, in place of sour cream for dips or cakes, as a thickener for curries which call for yoghurt, in raita mixed with yogurt. And always it works like a dream, and tastes amazingly delicious.

    I didnt know it was this easy to make at home. Thanks Meeta!

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  10. Wonderful, I can make my own quark! I have the same question as Alanna, but I can only find skim buttermilk here--no fat at all. Is the buttermilk in Germany the real thing, skimmed off the top of whole cream milk? In the US, the most commonly available type is processed with an acid to create the tangy flavor, and is not skimmed off the top of the whole cream milk like dairy farmers do.

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  11. Meeta, I've heard WONDERS about this famous cheese... I seriously never thought of making it at home.
    Hehe, I also had no clue you're a House fan either :) It stinks that we live in opposite parts of the world... food-filled House marathons are the best!! and I'm sure we'd cook up a storm, too :)

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  12. That's definitely something I've never heard of - intriguing!!

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  13. wow Meeta, this looks delicious and very tempting.

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  14. That was an interesting read Meeta...i always though quark was some kind of butter....Thanks for the homemade recipe

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  15. I had never heard of quark until I started reading food blogs. But I never thought I'd be able to make it myself! I'm so curious - I really want to try this out!

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  16. I always thought that Quark was a character on Star Trek. I learned something new today.

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  17. I love Quark! Thanks for the recipe!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  18. Sunita - yes homemade does taste more intensive. However in Germany you do get some good quality products too - so sometimes for the sake of convenience one can always fall back on the commercial stuff.

    Ivy, German quark is creamier than paneer and you can use it in all sorts of recipes. If you like paneer you will love this!

    Alanna - yes in Germany you still get buttermilk made the traditional way, by using the leftover liquid after churning butter from cream. you can also get cultured buttermilk where lactic acid bacteria is added. this is often thicker than the traditional one. I would recommend mixing in one or two table spoons yogurt to the buttermilk you get in the US. It would give the quark more body. Let me know how it went?

    Keerthi, you have a few great suggestions here. Especially the one for adding quark to raita - why didn't I think of that ;-)

    Andrea - as I mentioned to Alanna we do get both versions here. I have made it with both types of buttermilk and although got slightly different results in texture and taste it was not so drastic that I prefer one over the other. Similarly to my suggestion to Alanna - add one or two tablespoons of yogurt to the buttermilk.

    Tony - the cheese is a wonder. Hope you do try making this at home you'll love it. Or maybe I'll bring a few tubs over for the next House session LOL! I agree if you lived closer we'd be having a ball every week of the night. Cooking, drinking and partying with House!!

    VG - You know what would interest me - How do you veganize this?

    Bhawana - thanks!

    Priyanka no but you could use this instead of butter. It's certainly healthier!

    Deborah - go ahead and give it a try. Just like everything else you might have to give it one or two extra tries to find the texture and taste that suits you but it's worth it because with this a a basis you have a whole new world of baking and cooking in front of you!!

    PC - you crack me up. He was the ugliest one! This quark is anything but. HAHAHA!

    Rosa, welcome!

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  19. Hola Meeta! I must be the exception... I still haven't learned to like cheese... What I would miss the most would be the Ham ;D

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  20. I have been so lazy to go blog-cruising lately that I've missed nearly two recipes from you. There's so much to cook and preserve in autumn now, I am so tired every night!

    And homemade quark! I will try this because I have a recipe that uses quark and you said homemade quark is much more creamier, which is what I really need. If it works in my recipe, could I link it to your quark recipe as well, Meeta?

    What do you call buttermilk in Germany? Here in Sweden, we have a variant called "fil" or sour milk.

    And one more thing, hope you feel better already. :)

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  21. Quark is something of a staple here in Finland, so I tend to use a lot of it, especially when baking something sweet.

    It is great to know that it can be made at home too,this was new information for me; I really like the fact that you post so much information along with your recipes.

    I wish I could buy the higher fat version here, but the largest fat percent I've seen was 2%.

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  22. Nuria - well maybe you'll like one of our favorite meals. It uses quark with a lot of mixed herbs, simple steamed potatoes and some spiced German leberwurst!

    Helena, I can relate to what you are saying! I have been busy making chutneys and sauces recently, then too pooped to blog cruise. Sure you could link to it! I am just excited to hear what the recipe is ;-) Buttermilk in German is simply "buttermilch". And --- yes your words put a smile on my face ;-)

    Emilia, I am glad I was able to help you. If you do get around to making it at home let me know how it went!

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  23. I'm so going to have to try this. I love quark. Though I am lucky enough that my local grocery store actually carries some.

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  24. really nice.. i have to try this. never knew before:-)

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  25. I'm going 'quark quark' as I read you wonderful post Meeta. Sounds very familiar, yet smoother & creamier. Have a question about the buttermilk bit. Is there a recipe for that too, or does the substitute of adding vinegar etc to milk work in this case. I've read a few recipes that use quark & I love any sorta cheese! I'd love to try this!

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  26. Did not realise how quark was so similar to faisselle! I miss smooth and creamy 40% fromage blanc. Well not that much anymore since I have taught myself goat cheese making and fromage blanc, petit suisse, faisselle and all those. I think I miss the packaging, aaha!! or mom's kitchen :)
    Well done!

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  27. one of the goodies i love here in germany. they're so good! especially, with german bread - which i think is the best anywhere! thanks!


    american living in germany

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  28. Pea, I guess that is not so common in your part of the world huh? But like I said I think I would only go back to store-bought quark now if I needed it at the spur of the moment. If I know ahead I will be requiring quark I'll be making it on my own.

    Shreya - hope it works

    Deeba - I have never tried making my own buttermilk! So I cannot give you a qualified answer on that. Maybe a little Googling might help. What I did find was recipe which uses whole milk and either yogurt, vinegar or lemon juice. I have never tried it this way so cannot guarantee the same results.

    Helen, I thought you just might like this recipe. Yes, it is very similar to several French diary products.

    American In Germany - yes, this would be something I would miss the most too if I ever left Germany. But now I can make it at home. Try it I am sure you will appreciate the taste for homemade quark.

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  29. Great tutorial Meeta, thanks! The buttermilk question raised is something I wondered about as well. Is our buttermilk the same as in the US? German vs Dutch? Next time I'll bring some home!

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  30. wow, that easy? thanks. i love the sound of this ingredient.

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  31. Great informative post... I would never have guessed that quark was some form of cheese. It probably seems weird because of the name. Sounds like physics jargon :)

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  32. Hi Meeta! I haven't been checking out blogs in such a long time, and yours is always one of the first ones on my list.. and there are good reasons! I am exactly one of those people who will tell you that cheese is what I miss the most of Europe. Now, I'm definitely going to try this! Thanks a lot. :)

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  33. With all this lovely cheese,I would definitively make a good cheesecake:)

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  34. Wow! wonderful! Thank you for sharing it!

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  35. I make quark sometimes. The most important thing is NOT to use milk from a carton. Milk should be fresh, with epiration date not longer than 7 days from "production"

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  36. Thanks everyone!

    Nina - yes good point it works with fresh buttermilk. I have not made it with milk though. I think there is just a slight difference in the German style quark and one that is made in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe the texture is firmer and less creamier than that available here in Germany.

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  37. I just recently bought Alice Medrich's book "Pure Desserts" and in it was a recipe for "Quark Souffles". I had never heard of quark and can't imagine where I would buy it. I was elated to see your homemade version. Will definitely give it a try! Thanks

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  38. I was wondering if this can be made in a slow cooker. Has anyone tried to do that? the lowest setting on my oven is 170 degrees which would be too hot!

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  39. Lynn - I've tried that recipe out already but with store-bought quark. I still have to make it with homemade, which I am sure will be more d'lish!

    ANON - OHH good question! I am not sure about that one. However, I do know there is a stove top method of making quark so i am presuming that you should be able to do it in the slow cooker. Try it and then let us know ;-)

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  40. try using a yogurt maker!

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  41. Hi Meeta, thank you so much for posting this wonderful and easy to make recipe. Quark has to be the item I missed most from Germany, since living in North America.
    I have made this recipe several times now, and only regret that I didn't find it earlier.

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  42. I'm trying this one! Hope it will work out fine.. thanks

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  43. Wow :) Because I'm an European Czech girl I know quark pretty well and I love it :) Mum has been preparing a simply whipped sweet quark for me since my childhood.

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  44. This is just heavenly! Thanks for sharing your recipe! My family would love this. :)

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  45. I make my own ricotta for cakes and pastas so will definitely try this having never tried quark before. You dont get it in South Africa. Thanx so much for this. xxx

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  46. I was so surprised to see that quark is a real thing. When I was a girl my grandfather (German) told me when he was little he ate quark with boiled potatoes after mixing it with herbs, scallions, salt and pepper. I ate this for lunch many times with him, but I thought he made it up! His simple version was half sour cream and half cottage cheese. Thanks for the wonderful memory.

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  47. WOW Thanks for helping me with a great mystery. I have lived in Germany 3 years now and always wondered what was actually in Quark!!! LOL I think I will make my own now!

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  48. Have you ever tried "topfen"? As an Austrian girl, I like the Austrian variety of quark more although quark tastes very similar to topfen.

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  49. Hello Meeta, in my search for quark torte recipe, I discovered your web site with instructions how to make quark myself!
    I come from Slovakia and came to Canada in 1968. Since then i have had many frustrating experiences trying to recreate some semblance of quark cheese and later on it appeared in supermarkets but was and is still very expensive-close to $4.00 for 225 grams !This for cheese we used to make at home from leftover milk we let to sour on top of our kitchen cupboard and then heated up slowly over the top of kitchen range and then strained.
    My mother used to make a cake on a large cookie sheet using yeast dough as a base and topping it with the quark mixture that included raisins, lemon juice, sugar, eggs and whipped egg whites - a family favorite.
    I have a German friend who's 85th birthday is approaching and want to make her something she used to like back home. Do you think that I could combine quark made of 1.5% buttermilk(the only one available to me )and some mascarpone to bring up the fat content and therefore achieve smoother texture ?
    Did anyone do this? And how did it turn out?
    I would appreciate some feedback.
    Luba

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  50. I stumbled upon this post after doing a blog search for quark, and I'm so happy to have found it that I could cry! When I was 16 I took part in an exchange program, and stayed with a family in Leverkusen, Germany. Every morning I'd enjoy fresh rolls smeared with quark and my host mother's homemade jam. It's been over 15 years since then, but I still find myself daydreaming about that simple, fantastic breakfast. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe -- I'm going to head out to the store as soon as my son wakes from his nap to pick up some buttermilk! The thought of enjoying quark again has completely made my day!

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  51. Hi Meeta,
    I was excited to see your recipe is much the same as the one I've been using for years! Just like "semicrunchmama," I too was an exchange student in Germany. When I came home to the states, I was only able to find quark at one little deli and it was ridiculously over priced! In college, I had nowhere to get quark and was desperate to bake a good cheese cake. So I did an internet search (I'd say that I "googled" it, but Google wasn't really in existence yet). It took hours of searching both English and German sites to finally find a recipe. Today I Googled it and found Pages and Pages of results on how to make it. Most of the recipes are much more complicated than yours and I was beginning to wonder if I've been doing it wrong all these years... Then I found your recipe. I think simple is best! :-) The only difference between my recipe and yours is that I add a liter of buttermilk to 3.5 liters milk. Yours probably sets up a bit faster than mine. Also, when I had a gas stove/oven, I didn't worry about pre-heating the oven because the pilot light in the oven provided plenty of heat.

    One day I am going to make my host grandmother's cheesecake with quark that I've done with 1 l butter milk and 3.5l whole cream. I think the super creamy high-fat cheese would make a cake that might be even better than the one with "standard" quark. :-)

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  52. Danke, Meeta! I just returned from three weeks in Germany and it's definitely the dairy products I'm missing most! I am very excited to start this quark recipe tonight ...

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  53. I have just attempted this recipe and am at the dripping phase. My oven would go no lower than 170F. So, I placed the covered pot at the edge of the rack and left the door open. Extra precaution was taken for safety. All appears to have worked out fine so far the next morning. Am quite excited as I have a friend aus Deutschland who has been missing quark in the states!

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  54. Hi,

    I wanted to know if I can use quark in place of paneer in Indian dishes? also what other Indian dishes can i use it for? pardon my ignorance, but what is the consistency? can it be cut into cubes like paneer?

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  55. Very excited to see that this post is helping so many and hope you all come back and tell me how it went.

    Deepa - the consistency of quark is not like paneer - it is creamier and more like a very think yogurt. You can hang it overnight to let the liquid drip but even then it does not "harden" like paneer does. Hope that helps!

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  56. If you can get fresh, raw milk you can make it without adding anything. here are 2 methods:
    1 - Skim off the cream from a half gallon of raw milk, pour the milk into a measuring cup or whatever will hold it and cover with a plate or cloth. Let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days, smell it and when it smells tangy enough that's when you want to stop it. Now drain through a cloth in a colander. I set it in the fridge to drain and pour off the whey several times to use later. You can twist and squeeze or not, the whey is good for you. This works because raw milk has way more good bacteria than bad, so the good eats the bad and it gets tangy rather than nasty. This provides lots of living probiotics for the gut along with vitamins and minerals and enzymes. One teaspoonful is better than the best capsule on the market. Same with the whey, which you can now either drink or take 1t per day for health or use to ferment your own veggies & pickles.
    2 - Make the same way, but after 1 day add the juice of half a lemon to make it firmer - the acid clabbers the proteins. This is how I make it because this is our cream cheese - except that it's really cottage cheese because my grandmother made it in her cottage!
    Eat Well!

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  57. Thanks Meeta! I'm in Asia and use a yoghurt maker instead of the oven and 2% fat buttermilk. The result is very smooth and creamy so no need to add anything to 'fatten it up'. That's one of the advantages - it seems so creamy but is low fat! It's lovely spread on a spring onion gallette and topped with fish roe, or on brown bread with smoked salmon - add a little lemon juice and fresh dill to the quark. I also stuff a chicken breast with quark and 1-2 basil leaves, wrap in proscuitto and bake in the oven for a quick, delicious dinner, served with vegetables or salad.

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  58. I just tried making some, but it turned out tan. I think the oven might have cooked it some. The container I used was glass, so I probably should have lowered the temperature 14 degrees or so. The problem is it doesn't list anything below 60. :( Here's hoping, though. Maybe I can figure something out.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta