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Yogurt, Cream Cheese, & Quarks 101

Yogurt, Quark, and More

Yoghurt, yogurt, yoghourt, or yogourt… is great stuff. There are quite few stories about the origins of yogurt (as I was taught to spell it). One story is that the Bulgars (people who migrated to the Balkans in 7th century AD) created the first yogurt cultures with bacteria in their goat skin bags. Of course, no one really knows where the idea of yogurt came from but there are quite a few theories. Yogurt is amazing! Who wouldn’t want to claim it? First of all, yogurt is easier to digest than milk. Often people who cannot properly digest milk, either because of lactose intolerance or protein allergies, can tolerate yogurt. There are quite a few great articles and studies that talk about why yogurt is easy to digest but to simplify: yogurt contains helpful enzymes that improve lactose absorption. A great source of calcium, yogurt is also proven to keep your colon happy by promoting the growth of helpful bacteria and ridding your system of harmful nitrates. Here are some other great facts about yogurt: reduces the instances of yeast infections in women, lowers cholesterol, a single serving contains 20% of the daily recommended amount of protein, and it helps children to grow. BUT most yogurts on the market are not that great. In fact, only Stonyfield Farm’s yogurt and a few others (like Dannon All Natural) are even good for you. Most yogurts are watered down with sugars, corn syrup, coloring agents, and artificial flavors.

Many people think that children won’t eat yogurt that doesn’t come in a tube or have crazy colors. Wrong! My stepson happily created and devoured entire fruit and yogurt parfaits at age five. Parfaits are a wonderful and quick breakfast or dessert! They are beautiful, kid-friendly, and very healthy. Simply create multiple layers of granola, fresh fruit, and plain yogurt in a glass, then serve. I like to serve them in fluted champagne glasses or even brandy snifters and use iced tea spoons to eat them with. You can also use frozen and fresh fruits with yogurt to create healthy and delicious smoothies:

When looking for live yogurt cultures… look for labels like this:

Getting sick of buying yogurt? Make your own. Here is a great recipe given to me by a terrific lady from Virginia, Cheryl Heatwole (Thank you, Cheryl!! You are the BEST!):

Combine in a large stainless steel bowl:

3 cups powdered milk + 6 cups warm water

Stir well. Add:

1 can evaporated milk

Combine separately:

1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1 cup milk mixture from bowl

Blend into the large bowl, mixing well. Pour into clean jars (canning jars will do). Incubate at 110-120 degrees until set. Refridgerate. Makes 2 quarts.

Hints: Incubating the mixture can be done by heating your oven to the lowest heat setting. Turn off the heat and turn on the oven light. Set warm jars into warm oven.

Check consistency. Yogurt should not be moved while it is setting. Check in three hours and every hour after that for up six hours. When the yogurt mixture has a junket-like consistency, put it in the refrigerator. Keeps several weeks.

Serve with any fresh, frozen, or canned fruits.

Quarks and Soft Set Cheese

A quark is a subatomic particle. Yes. But it is also a soft, smooth, spreadable German cheese which is not aged and very much like cream cheese. It is made with pasteurized milk and a starting culture. Quark can be used in place of sour cream on potatoes, cream cheese in cheesecake, as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna, in macaroni n’ cheese, and to make delicious appetizers. I much prefer it to cream cheese and like to serve it with hot pepper jelly on whole wheat crackers. Guess what? It can be made in your kitchen with plain yogurt, a colander, and some clean cotton fabric or several coffee filters (Thank you, Lips of an Angel!).

I have made quark using buttermilk and milk, but find that the yogurt is much easier. Here is the recipe:

Wash and rinse two 10″ X 10″ pieces of organic cotton cloth. Place one piece in the bottom of a colander in your sink.

Take a small container of plain live yogurt or however much you desire (for your first batch you may want just a half cup) and scrape it onto the fabric in the colander.

Place the other piece of fabric over the yogurt and weigh down with a saucer & some sort of jar(I usually use a jar of preserves). Let this rest and drain overnight. It will be ready to serve in the morning. Simply scrape it into a dish, cover, and refrigerate until you need it!

Some nice ideas for quarks:

– Chop up onion, chives, sun dried tomato, salt & pepper then blend them into the quark for a savory spread for fresh bread

– Dice some fresh strawberries, raspberries, or peaches and mix them with your quark with a little sugar for dessert

– Serve with jams and jellies for a lovely snack at tea time

– Use quark to make delicious quiches

For individuals with a great deal of time on their hands, the buttermilk recipe I used can be found here: http://rheology.tripod.com/QuarkMakingOfHenning.htm

Truthfully, the yogurt quark tastes exactly like the buttermilk quark. No difference except that you don’t have to wait around for three days!
This post is under construction. Sorry! More pictures of the quark will be posted soon (We keep eating them before I can photograph them!)!

Want to see who tried this recipe?

Leah of Lips of An Angel made a quark and used coffee filters to strain the yogurt!

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