What is Quark?
In March I was honored to speak at the Clean Label Conference in Itasca, Illinois on clean label ingredient trends. There I met Craig Sherwin who is the Technical Service Manager for Novozymes North America, a Dutch ingredient company. Craig was promoting an alternative to the conventional yeast-based lactase used in lactose-free dairy. He mentioned this being applied to a variety of dairy products, including a traditional Germanic product called “Quark”.
Somewhere between the texture of a thick yogurt and ricotta cheese, quark is a creamy, cultured milk product that can be used in sweet and savory dishes, or eaten plain.
Where can I find it?
While quark is commonplace in parts of Europe, it is not widely known in the US. The Label Insight database shows only 19 quark products available in the US. The majority of the 19 products are one brand, Elli, based out of Irvine, California distributes throughout the US to retailers like Meijer, Publix, Wegmans, Target, and Whole Foods. Regionally, it is also available in dairy states like Wisconsin, Washington, and Vermont sold by local creameries.
The Label Insight database shows that no products contain quark as an ingredient, in comparison, more than 1,500 products have ricotta as an ingredient, over 2,500 products have sour cream as an ingredient, and over 3,700 products list yogurt as an ingredient.
Quark, like most dairy, is a good source of naturally-occurring protein and calcium. In fact, it’s higher in protein than Greek yogurts. It is naturally very low in sodium and contains about 5 grams of total carbohydrates from natural milk sugars per serving.
This is a great alternative for people who want a less-sour yogurt. It also works well in a variety of cooking applications as a substitute for cream cheese in cheesecakes, baking, sauces, dips and spreads for a lower-fat option.
Quark products can fit well into a variety of lifestyle diets including vegetarians (check for gelatin), ketogenic, weight watchers, atkins, diabetics, those avoiding gluten, and individuals following a DASH diet. Like any food product, always check the ingredient statement for ingredients you may be sensitive to.
Quark may or may not be the next Greek Yogurt, but it certainly is a fun option for those looking to try something new! It’s a high protein, low sugar option for people looking for a healthy snack as a dip with vegetables or by itself.
Thea Bourianne, MBA, RD, LDN is a licensed and registered dietitian and serves as Label Insight’s Senior Data Strategies & Solutions Analyst.