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QUARK

Homemade quark Homemade quark is extremely simple to prepare. Using the recipe below, you can produce a substitute for commercial quark, if it is not available in your country.

Unfortunately, some of the commercially made quarks, like many of those sold in Anglo-American or other countries not accustomed to use quark, are of very low quality, with an odd, "chalky" flavour, often very sour and bitter, tasting like milk gone bad. Making your own quark will definitely make a difference when compared to these inferior products.

The preparing method and the consistency of homemade quark are somewhat similar to homemade ricotta type cheese (see below).

1 l whole milk
1 l buttermilk

Let the buttermilk stand  —  unopened, in its carton  —  at room temperature for several hours or overnight. Pour the milk in a thick-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold two litres. Bring the milk slowly to the boil, stirring frequently with a wooden or silicone spatula on the bottom to prevent scorching.

As soon as the milk reaches the boiling point, pour in the buttermilk in a thin stream, whisking continually. Immediately switch off the heat and stir the mixture once or twice. The mixture must not boil, but the temperature should be about 80 °C. Let the pan stand on the warm stove plate until the whey (the clear liquid) starts to separate from the curds (the firm white stuff).

Curd and whey separating Arrow Curd and whey separating
Curd and whey separating   Curd lifted out with a slotted spoon

Take the pan off the heat and let the separated mixture cool for a while. When the whey has turned clear, transfer the curds with a slotted spoon to a strainer lined with clean cheesecloth dampened with boiling water. Let the curds drain for two to three hours and transfer to a bowl. Store the quark covered in refrigerator and use within a week. The left over whey, which is rich in protein, can be used as liquid for bread doughs, pancake batters, etc.
Makes about 300 grams of quark.

Curds and whey
Curds (left) and whey (right)

Traditional way of making quark:
This is the way quark was made at home in the old times, when milk was not yet being pasteurised or homogenised.

Pour 1 litre of raw whole milk on the bottom of a large, wide oven pan. Place the pan in a warm place for 48 hours. During this time, the milk should thicken into buttermilk. (Modern, processed store-bought milk would just spoil and turn sour.) Cut longitudinal slits through the resulted buttermilk, repeating in other direction to make a criss-cross pattern. Place the buttermilk pan into cool oven (100 °C) for a few hours. This will curdle the buttermilk, separating the whey from the curds. Let the pan cool and drain out the whey, leaving the curds (quark) behind. With a slotted spoon, transfer the quark into a strainer lined with dampened, clean cheesecloth and let the excess whey run out.
Note: this traditional method of making quark is not always successful, so it is better to use the "foolproof" milk and buttermilk method described above, which will also work with "modern", processed milk.

Serving suggestions:
Use quark to make delicious quark-butter dough for pies and pastries, Finnish star-shaped Christmas pastries, cheesecake, Russian Easter paskha, prune mousse, or as a filling in quark pies or salmon roulades, among other things.

Recipe source: traditional Finnish recipe.


RICOTTA

Homemade ricotta Although not a true ricotta, which is made of cooked whey, the cheese produced with this recipe can be used in cooking in a similar way to the "real thing".

2 l whole milk
500 ml buttermilk

Pour the milk and the buttermilk in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring frequently with a wooden or silicone spatula on the bottom to prevent scorching.

Stop stirring the mixture as soon as it reaches the temperature of 80 °C. At this temperature, the whey (the clear liquid) starts to separate from the curds (the firm white stuff). As soon as this starts to happen, remove the pan from the heat.

Let the pan stand, covered, until the whey has turned clear. Gently transfer the curds with a slotted spoon to a strainer lined with clean cheesecloth dampened with boiling water. Drain the curds until most of the excess whey has come out.

Curd and whey separating Arrow Curd and whey separating
Curd and whey are separating   Curd lifted out with a slotted spoon

Curds and whey
Curds (left) and whey (right)

Store the ricotta covered in refrigerator and use within a week. The left over whey, which is rich in protein, can be used as liquid for bread doughs, pancake batters, etc.

Using a similar method, you can also make homemade quark (see the recipe above).

Recipe source: adapted from "Fresh ricotta", WNED-TV/Michael Chiarello's Napa Casual Cooking, 2002.


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