Greek yogurt vs Quark: interchangeable in recipes?

maisiba Posts: 66 Member
edited October 2017 in Food and Nutrition
When I started my weight loss journey last year, I wondered why so many US people kept talking about greek yogurt being so great. Where I live, we also have greek style yogurt but that one has actually more fat and calories than "normal" yogurt, so I was baffled for a second.

At the same time I was also baffled why nobody would talk about and integrate quark (esp low-fat quark) into their regular diet considering the great calorie/macro combination of that one.

It didn't take me long to figure out that the US-version of greek yogurt is very different from ours and actually the closest to what we call quark (although it is not the same).

I want to try @crazyravr's Low Calorie Protein Cheesecake and have no access to fat free greek yogurt but of course have quark.

I would assume I can replace greek yogurt in US recipes with quark but I wonder if anyone here has experience with substituting it in recipes?

And to everyone who is not familiar with quark, I can highly recommend it. It has great macros, is very versatile and from what I get much cheaper than Greek yogurt comparably.

Some optional info for people who are not familiar with quark at all:

What is Quark? (copied from some websites)
Quark is technically a spoonable fresh cheese, but the taste and texture are similar to Greek yogurt, only without the sour bite. Originating in Europe (the name essentially means "curd"), quark is a versatile creamy cheese, useful in everything from cake recipes to dips and low-fat spreads. Like low-fat yogurt or fromage frais, quark contains less fat than most creamy cheeses (although there is a full-fat version available). As for nutritional benefits, quark is a rich source of protein, it's high in calcium which is essential for strong bones and teeth, vitamin A for good eyesight, and B vitamins that support the nervous system.

The nutrition facts on a typical low-fat Quark are pretty great imo (per 100g, taken from a container in my fridge):
Calories: 68 kcal
Fat: 0.3g
Saturated fat: 0.2g
Carbs: 4.0g
Sugar 4.0g
Protein: 11.8g

More detailed info on Quark for people who are interested:
Quark wikipedia
What is Quark And Is It Healthy?
Should You Ditch Greek Yogurt for Quark?
Why Quark Is the Best Greek Yogurt Substitute
What is Quark? Everything you need to know about this healthy dairy ingredient


  • Christine_72
    Christine_72 Posts: 16,049 Member
    edited October 2017
    I use Quark in crazyravr's cheesecake and it turned out great, I've always used it in regular cheesecakes too in place of Philadelphia cream cheese. I do NOT like the the taste of it on it's own though, but i don't like like plain Greek yogurt either, both are too tart for me.

    ETA: Some people say Quark is comparable to cottage cheese in taste/consistency... I beg to differ!!
  • maisiba
    maisiba Posts: 66 Member
    I use Quark in crazyravr's cheesecake and it turned out great, I've always used it in regular cheesecakes too in place of Philadelphia cream cheese. I do NOT like the the taste of it on it's own though, but i don't like like plain Greek yogurt either, both are too tart for me.

    ETA: Some people say Quark is comparable to cottage cheese in taste/consistency... I beg to differ!!

    Thanks for the info re the cheesecake. Great to hear. I thought it should work (as you said, traditional cheesecake is often made with quark here too) but thought I'll ask around beforehand.

    I rarely eat plain quark plain (although I don't hate it) but I love to use it in different ways. Cooking and baking with it but a lot I just "enhance" it with protein powder to flavor and sweeten it and that works great. I also use it as part of my overnight oats or with granola/cereal, or with some fruit mixed in.

    I agree that it doesn't taste like cottage cheese imo either.
  • livingleanlivingclean
    livingleanlivingclean Posts: 11,751 Member
    I compare Quark with cream cheese more than Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. I've used it in unbaked cheesecake and the end result was delicious!
  • leeZandi
    leeZandi Posts: 2 Member
    edited October 2017
    I live in the USA, and I just started making and eating quark myself, making the switch to it from "Greek"/strained yogurt very recently. I don't really use either in recipes much, usually just eating it plain or with some fruit. But I've done a fair amount of web-searching about both, since I started making both myself. For both products, I think the things to remember about their natures is that (1) they are milk products, so the relative percentages of protein, fat, and carbs (lactose) depends on what milk (and any additives) was used to make it; and (2) they are strained cultured milk products, emphasis on strained, so the thickness and moisture percentage largely depends on the degree of straining, which totally varies maker to maker, especially for quark/tvorog/topfen. (The standard degree of straining for Greek yogurt is to about half of the original cultured milk volume; quark varies more but usually is at least that much, sometimes much more than that, often to a more cream-cheese-like consistency.) So how much quark and Greek yogurt are interchangeable depends partially on those factors. If you are concerned about moisture content for recipe substitution, perhaps you might adjust quark to more closely match Greek yogurt by mixing a little milk or water (or whey, if you have it) into the quark.

    Regarding fat content, keep in mind that the US and German conceptualizations of fat percentage differ. A US fat percentage refers to the entire weight of the product, so for example 100g of US Lidl whole-milk Greek yogurt ("5% fat") has 5g of fat in it; whereas I think German fat percentages refer only to the dry mass, not to weight from water. I know the fat in regular quark is supposed to be 20% of the dry mass, and I would tentatively estimate it is about equivalent to full-fat Greek yogurt. Magerquark should be comparable in fat to nonfat Greek yogurt, whereas Sahnequark is much higher in fat than any Greek yogurt I know.

    Now, another similarity between Greek/strained yogurt and quark, for cooking and nutrition, derives from that they are both curdled milk products: they have been thickened from plain milk by acidification, and that means they should be fairly interchangeable in recipes that use that acidity (e.g. tzatziki sauce and baking). If the milk for the quark is curdled by culturing (some varieties, especially German, are instead curdled by rennet, adding acid, adding heat, or a combination of those methods), and has not since been heat-treated, that quark also shares another characteristic with Greek yogurt: live probiotic content. But whichever curdling method is used, quark usually tastes different from Greek yogurt, either because no bacteria were used or because the bacteria used to culture the quark are different from those for yogurt; quark bacteria are mesophilic, while yogurt's are thermophilic. I think this explains quark's somewhat cheesier taste, which I imagine could be a factor in recipe substitution.

    Although I just started making and eating quark myself, I concur that it is a worthy food! It's easy and cheap to make, too, even easier than yogurt because it cultures at room temperature instead of 100-115 Fahrenheit (F). A US gallon of milk makes roughly a half-gallon of whey and a half-gallon of Greek yogurt or quark, so even if you discard the nutritious whey you are still getting almost two quarts (64 oz) for the cost of a gallon of milk! This is my process for cultured quark: 1. Gently heat the milk to 185 degrees F (a simmer) (this de-natures the proteins a bit). 2. Let the milk cool to somewhere between 95 degrees F/35 Celcius and room temperature (minimum of 68 F/20 C). 3. Gently mix in (roughly room-temperature) starter culture - (cultured) buttermilk or your own soured milk, in a ratio of about 4 parts milk to 1 part starter. 4. Let this mixture sit/incubate at room temperature or warmer until the whey is visibly separated to your liking, about 1-3 days for a half-gallon. 5. Strain the result (soured milk/Dickmilch) to your liking, probably either for about 2-3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator; there are many different things you can use for this, including the traditional cheesecloth layers, paper towels, coffee filters, bouillon strainers, men's handkerchiefs, old T-shirts or pillowcases, nut milk bags, paint strainers, or my favorite, a pair of laundry fine-mesh bags. 6. (Optional) if the quark is thicker than you want, mix liquid (whey, water or milk) back in after you put the quark in your storage container. That's all you need to do to make quark!

    Making Greek yogurt is not too much harder, the process differences being (1) that you mix the starter (yogurt, and a much smaller amount) in once the yogurt reaches 116 F, (2) you have to keep it warmer for the incubation, ideally 105-115 F, and (3) a shorter incubation duration, from as few as 3 hours to 24 hours depending on incubation warmth and on your own taste. Or you could make Greek yogurt simply by straining store-bought plain yogurt.

    To calculate nutrition info for homemade Greek yogurt or quark, I use a spreadsheet to subtract the whey nutrition info from the info for the milk and starter I used, to give me my quark or strained-yogurt info, which I then use to create a Food in MyFitnessPal.

    Hopefully this is helpful :)
  • Graelwyn75
    Graelwyn75 Posts: 4,404 Member
    I have used Quark for years as an alternative to Greek Yoghurt. I find the Fage/Total Greek yoghurt so expensive, and really, it is the only genuine Greek yoghurt you can buy here in the Uk. I tend to now mix quark with some greek yoghurt and add in Pb2 and some nuts, seeds and fruit for my dessert each evening.
  • maisiba
    maisiba Posts: 66 Member
    @leeZandi Thanks so much for all the insight. This was indeed very helpful and interesting. I might not make it myself (too easy for me to just buy it at any grocery store) but all the background info definitely clears up some of my "confusion." :smile:
  • tess5036
    tess5036 Posts: 942 Member
    I had been thinking something similar, wondering if I could use quark to replace the fat free cream cheese, which I can't seem to find.
    Anyone know of any in the UK apart from the Philidelphia extra light?