Quark is a little-known dairy product with some big health benefits.
This article explains what quark is, the health benefits it offers, and how to use it.
What Is Quark?
Quark is a thicky and creamy fresh cheese, and you can see how it looks in the above image.
The cheese is also very nutrient-dense, and it is notably high in protein while also being low in calories.
Quark is thought to originate in the Germanic countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and its origins date back to the 14th century.
How Is It Made?
As a fermented type of dairy, quark is made via the use of a bacterial starter culture.
According to the University of Guelph’s Food Science department, the cheesemakers follow the steps below (1);
- After heating skim milk to a temperature of 62°C, producers add a Lactococcus bacterial starter when the milk cools down to 32°C. Usually, the particular strain of bacteria is Streptococcus lactis or cremoris.
- Following this, the milk is left to rest for around five hours until it forms a gel-like consistency.
- At this point, the PH of the cheese is around 4.8, and when the curd is cut liquid whey leaks out.
- Next, the cheesemakers slowly stir the curd to break it up and then gently heat to a temperature of 52°C.
- Once the curd has a firm consistency, it is taken off the heat, drained, and stored.
No special equipment is necessary to make quark, so if anyone is feeling adventurous, you only need the starter culture to make your own.
First of all, the consistency of quark can depend on its fat content.
Although the standard ‘base’ version is low in fat, cheesemakers often add cream to enhance the flavor and texture.
Regarding its texture, quark is thick and creamy, and this is particularly the case for the higher fat (added cream) versions.
This creaminess pairs with a mild yogurt-like taste, which is something similar to Greek yogurt but not quite as sour.
It is difficult to describe the taste accurately, but quark tastes like something of a cross between Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream.
Personally, I enjoy the flavor, but some people find it a little “plain.”
For this reason, you can either buy the cheese in its original form or with small added amounts of chopped fruit.
Quark Nutrition Facts
The table below shows the nutritional values per 100 grams of quark (2).
Note: this is for the standard quark made from skim milk.
Health Benefits of Quark
The nutrient profile of quark offers several benefits.
1) Rich Source of Protein
Quark is an excellent choice for anyone looking to up their protein uptake, and it offers one of the best sources of protein per calorie.
Compared to other sources of dairy, quark is easily one of the most protein-dense options.
Gram-for-gram cheese is higher in absolute protein content, but cheese is also much higher in calories.
|Cheddar||24.9 g||403 kcal||25 %|
|Greek yogurt||10.1 g||57 kcal||71 %|
|Quark||12 g||60 kcal||80 %|
|Skim Milk||3.4 g||35 kcal||39 %|
For more on protein-rich dairy foods, see this guide to skyr – a unique Icelandic yogurt.
2) Low In Lactose
Although quark does contain lactose, it contains much less than some dairy products do.
For example, milk provides around 5 grams of lactose per 100 grams.
Regular yogurt has a lactose content of around 4.5 grams per 100 grams. For low-fat yogurt, this jumps to 6 grams (6).
Researchers have demonstrated that many people with lactose intolerance issues may tolerate up to around 12 grams of lactose in one go (9).
In such individuals, quark could be a better dietary fit than milk or yogurt.
That said, individuals with more severe reactions to lactose may still need to be cautious about consuming quark.
3) May Enhance Satiety and Help Control Appetite
Protein is widely recognized as the most satiating macronutrient.
With its significant protein density, quark is a very filling and satiating food choice.
Also, for anyone trying to lose weight, quark is an excellent option as a replacement for higher calorie or flavored sugary yogurts.
4) Nutrient Density
Nutrient density refers to the number of nutrients a food can offer compared to its energy (calorie) provision.
Quark performs well in this aspect since it is very low in calories (60 kcal per 100 g) and offers a wide range of nutrients.
To be specific, quark offers a particularly good source of the following nutrients.
- B vitamins
5) Low In Calories
Although this ties in with the section on nutrient density, it is worth repeating that quark has very low energy density.
Being low in calories doesn’t automatically make food a healthy choice, but quark is low in calories and very high in nutritional value.
This low energy-density also means that quark is an excellent, satiating option for;
- Anyone who is trying to lose weight or on an energy-restricted diet.
- People trying to get additional protein into their diet without gaining weight.
6) Rich Source of Calcium
In a similar fashion to other types of cheese, calcium is a standout nutrient in quark.
The cheese contains approximately 115 mg of calcium per 100 grams (16).
When we consider that quark contains very few calories, this is a very significant amount.
For example, a pot of quark (approx 250 grams) would offer around 290 mg of calcium for only 150 calories.
The reference daily intake (RDI) for calcium ranges from 1000 mg to 1200 mg depending on age and gender (17).
Calcium has many crucial roles in the human body, and it is particularly important for healthy bones (18).
7) Potential Anti-Inflammatory and Digestive Benefits
Over recent years, increasing amounts of research have shown that lacto-fermented dairy products may have digestive benefits.
The most common strain of bacteria used to produce quark is Lactococcus lactis (L. lactis for short) (1).
However, actual human trials are necessary to confirm such effects.
Interesting, a randomized, double-blind controlled trial in 114 human patients showed that supplementing with L. lactis alleviated allergy symptoms (21).
How To Use Quark: Recipes and Ideas
So, you have a tub of quark but aren’t quite sure what to do with it?
Here are some quick and straightforward quark recipes and ideas;
- Mix with fruit and nuts: add a handful of berries and nuts to a bowl of quark for a healthy, nutritious snack.
- Add it to a soup: for a creamy and delicious texture, try adding quark to your favorite soup recipe. Doing this will also have the added benefit of increasing the protein content.
- Make a dip: add the quark to a blender or food processor, add some chopped chives, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper and blend.
- Use it in a curry: most kinds of dairy (such as butter, ghee, cream, and yogurt) work well in curries. Quark is very suitable too, and it gives a creamier texture to any curry.
- Make a mousse: melt some dark chocolate in a pan, whisk in one egg yolk, and then add the quark and a sweetener if desired. Mix well and refrigerate before serving.
- Just eat it with a spoon: quark can be a quick, healthy, and high-protein snack. It tastes great by itself, and it makes an easy on-the-go option too.
Quark is one of the most nutritious dairy foods money can buy, and it is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
With its impressive versatility, quark can be a convenient and healthy addition to any diet.
For more on cheese, see this guide to 15 of the most popular types.