Quark: Traditional Cheese Being Reborn in the Midwest

Last week I was in Milwaukee at the Growing Power Urban and Small Farm Conference, and luckily my exhibit booth was right by Bob Wills of Cedar Grove Cheese, who was there to share cheese samples from his new urban creamery in Milwaukee—Clock Shadow Creamery. People were lining up to sample his famous squeaky cheese curds, but alongside the curds were samples of his new quark cheese. A consummate eavesdropper, I noted a repeated question: What is quark? Apparently, inquiring minds want to know, so let’s talk quark.

Besides being that money-grubbing Ferengi character on Deep Space Nine (nerd alert!), quark is a fresh cheese, usually made with cow’s milk. It is soft, white, and unaged. Like any cheese, quark can vary depending on where it’s made—various regions have various methods for producing it. Generally, it’s slightly stiffer than sour cream in texture, it’s tangy, and has a slight crumb to it. Worldwide, it’s used for sandwiches, spreads, and desserts, such as Quarkdessert, a simple preparation of quark mixed with a dash of vanilla, honey, and fresh (or preserved) fruits.   

Locally, you can find quark at Seward Coop. They stock quark from Milton Creamery in Iowa (makers of that award-winning Prairie Breeze Cheddar). Milton Creamery’s quark has a mild cream flavor, and is tart and tangy. Clock Shadow’s quark is so new that it hasn’t even made it to their website yet. You can find it at Woodman’s stores in the Milwaukee area, or at the Clock Shadow retail store. Clock Shadow’s quark has an alluring cream flavor with a subtle, tangy aftertaste.

So get thee some quark, and mix it with honey and fresh fruit for a snack, or mix it with herbs and stuff it in your pierogi, or make some robotic Ferengi-inspired sandwich bread with rye flour, sea salt, and quark—it’s called Quarkbot.

Want to see quark in action? Check out this video, featuring Ron Henningfield at Clock Shadow Creamery making cheese curds and quark: