Friends of Quark without Rennet

Quark cheese is the traditional soft cheese of central Europe. It is softer than cream cheese, but more dry than sour cream. Quark cheese is favored by many since it is more lean than either cream cheese or sour cream. Here are typical citations: Quark cheese is a natural food; quark cheese has exquisite taste; quark cheese is needed for gourmet eating; quark cheese in pastry (cheese cake); quark cheese with spices on pumpernickel; . .

Since moving to the US in 1979, I missed quark cheese and started to develop a new process for making quark cheese at home. Requirements for me were that no additives are used (no salt, no rennet). Avoiding rennet is important since it is a little tricky to handle at home. If overdosed, it adds some unwanted flavor to the quark. We do not need it so let's not worry about it.

I started exploring different methods, but only succeeded in 1982 when a colleague at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told me that buttermilk has the right culture for converting milk into quark. My best success is described in the recipe shown below. Many people asked for the recipe and succeeded with their own home-made quark. The following is written as an express manual for quark making and for enjoying quark cheese.
Quark making has become most easy. Please try and taste youself. In case of suggestions or experience to share, please contact me. Enjoy !

Henning Winter (

Making of Henning’s Quark Cheese


1 gal of milk (I take 2% type milk)

buttermilk (smallest unit is 1 quart; the culture differs from brand to brand)


Open the jar of milk (needs to be fresh at that time) and replace about half a cup of the milk with buttermilk. Mix gently to distribute the buttermilk culture throughout the milk. Close cap onto the gallon container (jar) as is and keep container in a warm spot (somewhere in between body temperature and 50oC). Wait for about 3 days until the culture has grown and the milk has clotted (looks cloudy). No stirring recommended.

As finishing step, remove most of the wey. To get prepared, place sieve (1 gal. size) into a large pot (for catching way from the sieve) and lay cotton cloth (thin dish towel) into sieve. Now you are ready for separating the quark from surplus wey. Transfer the batch of clotted milk and whey into this cloth covered sieve, cover with lid, and keep for about one day in a cool spot (nothing extreme). Sometimes you need to wait longer. You can choose how dry or moist you like your quark. Periodically remove the whey that has collected in the pot. The quark will remain in the cloth in the sieve. It will look white and moist. Very inviting.

Transfer the quark from the cloth into a small container. Keep refrigerated until consumption.

Stringy Versus Grainy

The quark will be stringy, more or less, depending on all kinds of influences. Stringy like cheese on a pizza, but not nearly as strong. To get a grainy quark instead, heat the coagulated milk culture before draining. Heating to about 40oC is sufficient. The grainy quark will drain faster as you will realize.

Comment on Milk Sterilization

Freshly purchased milk from the store is already sterilized. At should not be preheated before making quark. When starting out, I was advised to preheat the milk, but this turned out to be unneccessary.

What can Go Wrong?

Quark making is so easy that it is difficult to fail. However, I failed a few times when a fowl culture took over. The reasons were an old buttermilk culture (contaminated with the wrong culture) or a milk temperature which was too low during the growth of the culture. You will notice the smell. It is quite memorable.

Improvements and Comments

Charlie Dickinson’s improvement (4/2004): The first batch is a terrific success, so much more appealing than yoghurt. 35oC seems to give good clot-whey separation in about 2 days though. I left it 3 as per instructions. Punching hole in jug bottom and draining out much of the liquid before slopping the solids out seems to give drainage in our hands within 12 hours.”



Quark has been known for centuries. It has been cited in the literature.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote in his Westoestlicher Divan, Buch der Sprueche:

Getretner Quark wird breit, nicht stark.

Schlaegst du ihn aber mit Gewalt

in feste Form, er nimmt Gestalt.

Dergleichen Steine wirst du kennen,

Europaeer Pise sie nennen.


James Joyce wrote

“Three quarks for Muster Mark!

Sure he hasn't got much of a bark

and sure any he has it's all beside the mark”

and, in 1978, inspired the physicist Murray Gell-Mann to select the name “quark” for elementary particles.

Gertraud's Kefir Quark

Wed, 2 Jul 2008, e-mail from Gertraud Tschida in New Zealand (


just read your recipe for making quark. I was in the same position like you, coming from Austria to New Zealand about 20 years ago and I could not believe, making quark was unknown here. I missed it terribly, as we use quark in Austria for many sweet and also savory dishes. Since about 4 years there is in New Zealand an organic farm which offered quark in the form of kind of creamy consistency. I was very pleased about this, but still it could not be used for dishes which require the lumpy kind of quark.

I came to your site via searching on the net for some usefor whey, because I am sorry to drain it away in the sink.

As each year at the time of calving the quark is not available for about 3 months from this farm, I tried recently to make quark from Kefir. I used little Kefir to "inoculate" lukewarm milk to get Kefir the cheaper way than buying it in the health shop. It works easy and quick, over night in a warmish place. Then I heat the Kefir gently to about 40-50 degrees, constantly stirring, soon the casein curdles and then one just puts it through a sieve with this very tight steel mesh nowadays produced, the whey is separated from the quark, just pressing gently with a spoon results in lumpy quark as soon as you pop it into a bowl and break it up, with a fork or just with your fingers. It is so easy, tastes wonderful, I was ecstatic with joy that I could now make the Austrian dish "Topfennudeln with sauercream and speck".

I am not a chemist, so I don't know which culture is used to make Kefir. But as I bought the original bottle at a health shop, I hope it is organic and natural.

The advantage to make quark this way is that it works so quick. No waiting for days to get milk curdled, no waiting for the curdled milk to drip through a cloth. Also the taste is very fresh and pleasantly slightly sour, just as it was back home.

Today I tried to add to 2 liters of milk around 200g of cream when starting the new batch of Kefir. I hope to be able to improve the taste, because Quark tastes sometimes a bit dry, so I am looking forward hot my new recipe turns out to taste tomorrow. Thought I let you know, to me this method with Kefir seems to be easier.

About Topfennudeln (in German. Sorry!):

Topfen ist die Österreichische Bezeichnung für Quark.

Bandnudeln zur gewünschten Konsistenz in reichlich Salzwasser kochen, dann nach Abseihen in Topf mit etwas Fett (Öl oder Schmalz, event. Butter) geben, erhitzen, dann den bröseligen Topfen drüberstreuen und druntermischen, Salz nach Geschmack, fertig. Wenn man es auf dem Teller serviert, Sauerrahm und kleinwürfelig geschnittenen Speck, der vorher etwas angebraten oder ausgelassen wurde, dazumischen.
Das Problem ist nur, die Nudeln müssen sehr heiss sein bevor man den Quark dazugibt, da man das Gemisch nicht weiter erhitzen kann,da der Quark dann wie Kaugummi Faden zieht. Auch sollte der Sauerrahm Zimmertemperatur sein, sonst wird das Gericht noch weiter auf dem Teller gekühlt. Meine Mutter hat die Topfennudeln immer am Ofenrand einige Zeit stehen gelassen, damit sich alles durchwärmt, aber das war ein altertümlicher (jedoch wunderbarer) Holzherd. Mit den modernen elektrischen Herden, man muss vorsichtig auf kleinster Stufe probieren, oder das Gericht ist eher lauwarm.
Eine Verwandte von mir hat Topfennudeln immer mit Zucker bestreut gegessen, dann natürlich ohne Speck. Schmeckt wie irgendein anderes Kuchengebäck mit Quark und Sauerrahm. (Nicht ganz). Die ungarische Variante ist, ausser Speck und Rahm noch reichlich roten Paprika darunterzumischen. Heisst dann "Topfenhaluschka".


Copyright© Henning Winter
This page was created in January 2003 and was last updated July 2nd, 2008