Kvarg (Quark) is a type of curd cheese widely used in Swedish cooking, but it is sometimes difficult to find an identical product in other countries.
It has a light taste and a smooth, soft texture and can be made from whole, skimmed or semi-skimmed pasteurised milk or even buttermilk. It is like a cross between yoghurt and fromage frais and should taste lemon-fresh. Quark can be used in cooking and gives a smoother, richer flavour than fromage frais. In Sweden, it is usually sold in 250 g tubs and is available in virtually all supermarkets in one of two versions: normal and light.
In Sweden the light version is more popular. It has a fat content of less than 1%, typically 0.1% to 0.3%. It is widely used in baking and is often added to doughs and pastries, especially lussebullar (saffron buns). When added to dough, the dough becomes lighter, more moist and holds together better. Bread made with quark is said to be healthier and to keep better.
10% kvarg is also widely available in Sweden. It has a rounder fuller flavour than the light version and is often used in pastries, desserts and in sandwiches. However, a survey found that the majority of Swedes (75%) prefer the light version.
Kesella is a brand name for kvarg (quark) produced by a company called Arla Foods. It is so popular that many Swedish recipes list kesella rather than kvarg for no good reason as there is little difference from other brands.
Quark in the UK
Most supermarkets in the UK stock "virtually fat free" quark. It is fine to use in most recipes in place of lätt kvarg or kesella. As far as I know, 10% quark is not available in the UK.
Quark in Germany
Quark originates in Germany (quark in German means curd) and is widely available with 10%, 20% or 40% fat content.
Quark in USA
In the States quark is not readily available although some specialist stores stock it. Where available it normally has 11% fat content.
If you can't find any quark you could try farmer's cheese, baking cheese, pressed cottage cheese or fromage frais instead. Choose the cheese with the nearest fat content to the version of quark listed in the recipe you are working from.
Alternatives to Quark
Cream cheese, curd cheese, fromage frais, ricotta, farmer’s cheese and quark are all fairly similar, but not the same. If you can't find quark, substitute one of the others with the nearest fat content to that in the original recipe. For instance, as I can't find 10% quark in the UK I would try fromage frais instead as it has 8% fat content.
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