No Whey! Yes Cheese!: Making Quark
Luisa Weiss, the author of Classic German Baking touts Quark (aka sour cheese) as a basic ingredient for a lot of german baking. German baking is more than just sweet pastries and breads, it also encompasses yeasty items and savories, and quark is used as the gooey glue in many of those dishes. I feel like Quark is a cross texturally between fresh mozzarella and cottage cheese, though it has subtle hints that remind me of greek yogurt.
Making the cheese is quite straight forward. Put some buttermilk in the oven until it separates, and then drain the whey from the cheese mixture. Done!
My Quark turned out great. I used it in my Cabbage Strudel recipe (coming soon!), and the remainder I used on toast for breakfast with preserves throughout the week. My oven didn't go as low as the recipe called for, so my buttermilk separating time (5 hours) was much faster than what Weiss implied it would be (8-12 hours). Unsure if this directly altered the flavor or not. It took me around 15 minutes of active time to make, and 7-ish hours of waiting. Since I had something in the oven I felt homebound all day, but I just did chores around the house while I waited.
You need to buy cheesecloth in order to drain the whey from the Quark. You only need a small portion of what is in a package for the straining process. You can use the remaining cheesecloth, if you want, to pickle items, make your own nut milk, or to dye fabric naturally. You can technically re-use cheesecloth if you clean it properly; the internet thinks that if you are looking for a reusable straining fabric the go-to is a loose muslin, nut milk bag, cotton handkerchief, or flour sack towel. Food for thought prior to purchasing.
I used a sieve and large pot to drain the cheese with my cheesecloth but my friend L's mother-in-law, who is Eastern European, has a dedicated cheese hook in her US kitchen since she makes this kind of cheese so often. Just a fun fact. To some, this cheese is a daily staple.
I was not expecting the huge amount of leftover liquid whey. It filled three thermoses. I probably should have just put it all in a big pitcher. Weiss offers some suggestions about what you can do with the whey. She recommends making a drink similar to the Indian Mango Lassi, or putting it directly in smoothies for extra protein. Here is a list of other ways that you can use whey.
Disclaimer: These initial German Baking posts I had created in Winter 2019/2020 with plans to launch the blog in February/March 2020. You will notice that photos were taken in my Brooklyn kitchen, and a lot of the commentary is written pre-COVID19. Recipes were made using my CSA Veggies (learn more about my Brooklyn CSA here), and were to be eaten by myself and significant other at our leisure. It is now over six months after I had planned to publish these posts (hence my change of vision post from June 1), but later is better than never.
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