What is quark? I constantly asked my Oma this when I was younger, and I've tried repeatedly to explain what quark is to my American friends. It wasn't easy for my Oma to explain it at the time, and it sure wasn't easy for me to explain it further to my friends. As I was growing up and spending more time with my Oma in the kitchen when I visited her in Germany, I began to understand more of what quark's good for.

Replicating her dishes here in the United States was near impossible when I was younger since quark was almost no where to be found. Due to a growing desire to learn about diverse cuisines and the different ingredients other countries use, quark is slowly making its way into the US, and hopefully within the next few years it'll be found in every supermarket.

In the meantime, though, here's what you need to know about quark so when you do come across it you know what it is. 

Seriously, What Is Quark?

Officially, quark is described as a soft cheese. The reason why it's so hard to explain is because there are a lot of interpretations on how to describe it. Calling it a soft cheese makes you think it's similar to brie, (though it most certainly is not), and it misguides the taste and texture of it. 

Growing up, my family and I have always considered Quark like a thick yogurt, even thicker than Greek yogurt. To some, it's compared to a curd cheese, although quark is typically a lot smoother or silkier than that. Overall, it's not quite as smooth as yogurt, but it's not as stiff as mascarpone or soft cheese; it's really somewhere in between.

What Does Quark Taste Like?

Quark is neither sweet nor sour, and not quite as tart as Greek yogurt. If anything, it has a smoother, plain taste and is typically an ingredient that you don't eat by itself. Due to its subtle yet distinctive taste, it is mixed into a wide variety of dishes throughout Central and Northern Europe, especially in Germany. 

Is Quark Healthy?

The short answer is yes, Quark is healthier than many other yogurts and cheeses. It's high in protein and fills you up a lot faster without being fattening like other creams or cheeses. It is also high in calcium to help your bones, hair, and teeth stay healthy, vitamin A to maintain good eyesight, and vitamin B to support a strong nervous system. It's the perfect ingredient to use instead of yogurt or cream and is a great way to maintain a high-protein, low-fat diet.

What Can Quark Be Used For?

Quark can be used in a variety of dishes from savory to sweet. It can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snack in between. Some of the more familiar recipes I'm accustomed to using quark in are things such as a classic German cheesecake, an herb spread to put on top of bread or bagels, a refreshing dip for vegetables or chips, in mini pancakes traditionally filled with raisins and applesauce, or simply with fruit and some honey.

As quark becomes more popular in other countries, though, people have become more creative with its uses, like as a replacement for heavy cream and mascarpone in chocolate mousse and cheese in pasta sauce

So what is quark? Well, quark is quark, and the best way to really find out what its like is to try it for yourself. Hopefully quark will find its way closer to me soon, because I can't wait to finally recreate some of my Oma's recipes.