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Yogurt, Quark and More

By Lacy Razor 

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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 seventh 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:

Live culture label

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!)

Yogurt Ingredients

What you need:

1 13 ounce can of evaporated milk (1 2/3 cups)
2 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup nonfat dried milk
1 rounded tablespoon of live culture plain yogurt

Mix and pour the water and evaporated milk into a kettle over low heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side.  Scald until bubbles form around the edge of the kettle and the thermometer reads 180 degrees F.  Remove from heat and stir in dried milk.  Let cool to about 100 degrees and add the starter.  Use a whisk to stir the mixture until smooth and silky.  Pour into clean glass jars that have lids (I boil the jars first but let them cool before use)   Now for the options.  I love options.

Yogurt in jars

If you have an electric stove:  Preheat the oven to 150 degrees, turn off heat and leave the oven light on. Set covered jars on a cookie sheet in the oven.  Close oven door and do not disturb for 3 full hours even though you are just aching to mess with them.  Resist! 

Don't have an electric oven?  Use a crockpot by preheating it on low for about 15-20 minutes (walls should be very warm).  Put the covered jars in the crockpot, cover, and turn off the heat.  Every 30-40 minutes, turn the heat back on low for about ten minutes. 

After 3 hours, tilt the jars ever so slightly to see if they have firmed up.  If firm, stick them in the fridge for four hours or so (I like to make yogurt before I go to bed so I can have fresh yogurt for breakfast but do whatever makes you happy. 

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 European 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.

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

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.

Yogurt in the cloth

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).

Pressing the quark

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: Truthfully, the yogurt quark tastes exactly like the buttermilk quark. No difference except that you don't have to wait around for three days!

All historical information comes from Wikipedia which means that it might be completely inaccurate.  But then again, maybe not.  Who knows?  It sounds cool though, huh?

Note: There are many methods of incubating yogurt – even pricey little yogurt incubators which can be purchased with relative ease – but the ones I have listed are them only ones that I have tested.  My advice?  Just make sure that your kettles and utensils are clean and save yourself the expense of buying an official yogurt incubator. 

Congratulations, Angela!  You won a handmade grocery tote!  Please email me with your address and I'll send it to you.  Enjoy!  We're all jealous!

Another tote bag will go to a lucky commenter on this post.

Please visit the Razor Family Farms  Web site.

paul gardener
11/4/2008 4:13:01 PM

I love to make yogurt, and quark is a great substitute for cream cheese! I have yet another option for setting the culture though. When I sterilize my jars, I end up with a lot of very hot water. I pour a good bit of this into a cooler and close the lid. After making the yogurt I tamper the water in the cooler to just above 100 deg with some cool water and put the filled jars into the cooler. I cover them with a couple of old bath towels, close the lid and walk away. sometimes I even do it late and go to bed. AFter a few hours they're set thick and tast delicious! just "food" for thought. Great read. P~

9/14/2008 11:54:56 AM

Finally, the real deal on what I'm really looking for in the yogurt sold at grocery stores. Thank you for the product recommendation and the recipe. To your health and happiness.

julie at elisharose
9/8/2008 8:14:04 AM

Yogurt is a staple at your house. And we make our own. I haven't made yogurt cheese yet. That is the next frontier.

julie muytoy
9/5/2008 5:22:26 PM

I just love smoothies made with home made yogurt. The store bought yogurt does not even compare to the real thing. :) The Quark is simply delightful with crackers or even on fresh baked bread. Oh I am soooooo hungry now!

9/2/2008 7:29:04 AM

I haven't made yogurt in a long time. The last time I made it, I used my dehydrator and it was fun. I also made yogurt cream cheese. Didn't know it was called "quark". I really should get back to making this and adding it to our smoothies. Thanks for the tutorial. It looks great.

9/1/2008 5:52:36 PM

Quark.... mmmm.... sounds good. How much quark do end up with using a cup of yogurt? I will have to try it1.... using my homemade yogurt of course!

8/31/2008 6:48:17 PM

I love homemade yogurt. I have a teesy thingy that makes a quart, but I am going to try the electric oven way. It sounds much easier. I could totally substitute a packet of starter for the yogurt, right? And the quark? Tomorrow we are celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday, and since I love her, and since she is crazy for the cheeses, I'm going to make some of that, all fancied up with some chives, or maybe some fresh thyme from out back, and serve it with some baguette and nasturtiums. Yum!

8/31/2008 10:20:47 AM

Lacy, good post, got me in the quark making mood. Have a great week and keep up the good posting!

8/31/2008 10:18:34 AM

Good post Lacy. Quark is so easy to make, and I keep saying I'm going to to it, but don't get around to it. It's now on my to-do-list for the week.

cindy murphy
8/30/2008 10:02:11 PM

Hi, Lacy. "BUT most yogurts on the market are not that great....Most yogurts are watered down with sugars, corn syrup, coloring agents, and artificial flavors." I know, I know...ever check out the number of grams of sugar on a yoghurt container? On average 27 grams! And I'm not talking about the kid goo kind. Compare that with 11 grams of sugar for three chocolate chip cookies, and I gotta wonder why I worry about trying to eat healthy, (just kidding, but I do have a thing for chocolate chip cookies). I may not ever get around to making my own yoghurt, but the quark stuff sounds good, and easy enough....and a perfect accompaniment to my quarky personality.

8/30/2008 12:00:50 PM

Ooh! More good "how-to's"! I've thought about trying to make yogurt. At this rate, you may just inspire me to get movement one day! =P Or you just may 'cause me to move in with you. I'll let you know.... =D

holly, the knitter
8/30/2008 12:15:20 AM

There is nothing you can't do! I'm going to try one of these. Honest.

linda sue
8/29/2008 8:41:21 PM

Yogurt is like buttermilk - you can add it to almost anything and an elusively "better" taste comes through. Great options - I used to have one of those expensive yogurt makers and it made such tiny quantities - yard sale! Anyhow - thanks for sharing your tips - healthy digestive systems across the country thank you!

8/29/2008 7:39:09 PM

All of my kids Love yogurt, which is funny because i have never been to found of it!! I do think now that school has started and i will be down to one, I will try to make it again, maybe this time i will try the oven method instead!!!

8/29/2008 6:57:02 PM

Hi Lacy, My second attempt at getting thru. I got real sick from yogurt one time because it was not "all natural". Boy what a difference it makes. Most kids will eat things that they are involved in making. It gives them a sense of accomplishment. Now if you have a hubby that states out loud his dislikes then duct tape works wonders. I have never tried quark. I have never heard of it until today on your posting. I must try this. My husband does not like yogurt but what he doesn't realize is that he eats it in my dressings for various salads etc. He wants the recipes so he can make them while I am at work but I just tell him that some things we don't share. hehehe Thank you for your tutorial on these products. In most cases I don't have the time to go looking up a lot of info and you manage to simplify things so wonderfully. Please continue to send in these educational recipes and inspiring introductions of what ever you feel will benefit life. The rewards of doing these postings I am sure are very fulfilling in knowing you are contributing to make this place(earth)a better place to live in. lol

8/29/2008 5:48:05 PM

I've made yogurt a few times, but it never worked out very well, and ended up being more expensive than just buying it. :( So the yogurt maker/heater thing is in the "yard sale" pile right now...

8/29/2008 4:35:51 PM

My daughters both love yogurt, even plain yogurt. We like to take frozen fruit and blend it in! So, yes, I agree that yogurt doesn't need to come in tubes for children to like it! I think they just need to be part of the process of jazzing it up sometimes! I have never even heard of quark! Sounds delicious. I can't wait to make both of these things with our goat's milk once we stop using the milk for our bottle fed kid.

8/29/2008 12:17:54 PM

Lacy, Yogurt is one of my girls main staples of food. They eat it everyday. I've always wanted to give making it a try-ever since they were babies-but never have. You've made it seem so simple, I think I will make it!

the cotton wife
8/29/2008 11:52:39 AM

Yum! I love yogurt. And I also love options!!