Quark

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Dairy
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May cause allergic reactions.

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quark ready for babies Solid Starts

When can babies have quark?

Quark, if pasteurized, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Naturally low in sodium, quark is a fantastic first cheese for babies.

Where does quark come from?

Quark is a soft unripened cow’s milk cheese also known as kvarg, ser bialy, séré, topfen, and twaróg across northern Asia and Europe. Quark is easy to prepare: cultures are added to warmed cow’s milk, and once curds form, they are skimmed and drained. Traditionally, quark is made with unpasteurized skimmed milk and left to rest at room temperature, which lets the air’s naturally-occurring bacteria begin fermentation. In contrast, most modern food processing uses pasteurized milk and citric acid or rennet (an animal enzyme). Processing techniques also create different styles with distinctive textures: quark can be creamy like yogurt, crumbly like cottage cheese, pressed like paneer, or whipped like cream cheese.

Sebastián, 10 months, eats quark with fruit.

Is quark healthy for babies?

Yes, when made from pasteurized milk. Traditional quark cheese is made from raw milk, but pasteurized versions of quark are now widely available. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and the dairy products made from it can harbor pathogenic bacteria and other contaminants that can increase the risk of foodborne illness, which can be severe or even fatal in babies, whose immune systems are still developing.1 2

Nutritionally, quark contains protein, which babies need for cell development; vitamin B12 for nervous system development; and some calcium to build strong bones. It’s also rich in probiotics to help support a healthy gut and digestion.3 4 When quark is made from buttermilk, cream, and whole milk, it offers higher levels of certain fats called phospholipids, which are the same types of fats that form the protective layer around cells.5 Plus, quark has much less sodium than most cheeses, making it an excellent choice for babies starting solids.

When shopping for cheese for babies, look for the following:

  • Pasteurized
  • Low in sodium (less than 100 milligrams per serving)
  • Made from whole milk (ideally)

For more information on how much cheese babies can eat and other frequently asked questions, see our cheese page.

Is quark a common choking hazard for babies?

No, quark is a spreadable, soft cheese and doesn’t pose a high choking risk. That said, in theory, an individual can choke on any food. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is quark a common allergen?

Yes. Quark is typically made from cow’s milk, which is a common food allergen in young children, accounting for about one-fifth of all childhood food allergies.6 Keep in mind that dairy products from other ruminants such as sheep, goat, and buffalo may provoke similar allergic reactions to cow’s milk dairy products.7 If baby is allergic to dairy, know that it is an allergy that often disappears with time. Research shows that the majority of children with cow’s milk allergy will outgrow it by age 6, and many babies with milder symptoms of milk protein allergy (which can show up as painless blood in stool) are able to successfully reintroduce cow’s milk as early as their first birthday, with the guidance of their doctors.8

Milk is a known cause of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, also known as FPIES. FPIES is a delayed allergy to food protein which causes the sudden onset of repetitive vomiting and diarrhea to begin a few hours after ingestion. Left untreated, the reaction can result in significant dehydration. Thankfully, like other forms of milk allergy, FPIES which presents early in life is generally outgrown by the time the child has reached 3-5 years of age.9

For those with older children who are lactose intolerant (keep in mind this is uncommon for infants and toddlers), some good news: compared with milk and certain other dairy products, many cheeses may be better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance, particularly aged cheeses, which have a very low lactose content.10 11 12 13 While quark does have a lower lactose content compared to milk, it is higher in lactose than aged cheeses. Note that if your child is lactose-intolerant, it’s important to find calcium-rich foods to consume regularly to ensure a balanced diet and support bone health. Search for naturally low-lactose cheeses and dairy products labeled “lactose-free.”

If you suspect baby may be allergic to milk, consult an allergist before introducing dairy products like cheese. Based on baby’s risk factors and history, your allergist may recommend allergy testing, or may instead advise dairy introduction under medical supervision in the office. If the risk is low, you may be advised to go ahead and introduce dairy in the home setting. As with all common allergens, start by serving a small quantity on its own for the first few servings, and if there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.

How do you prepare quark for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Spread a thin layer of quark on toast for baby to grab and munch on. You can also add quark to egg strips or frittatas, or stir quark into mashed vegetables for baby. A word of caution: quark tastes delicious in desserts and drizzled with syrups, but try to hold off on foods with added sugar until after the second birthday—and be sure to steer clear of honey to minimize the risk of infant botulism.

9 to 11 months old: As baby’s fine motor control develops, try sticking fruit or vegetables in a bowl of quark for baby to grab and dip. You can also add quark to egg strips or frittatas, or stir it into mashed vegetables or grains for baby.

12 to 24 months old: Anything goes! Continue offering quark on its own, stirred into mashed vegetables, added to sauces and stuffing, or mixed into batters for muffins, pancakes, and quick breads. You can use the cheese as a vehicle to introduce new flavors from herbs and spices. You can also offer quark with a small bowl of seasoning on the side, and invite toddlers to flavor the cheese as they see fit. Toddlers enjoy choice and like to practice their independence, so if they reject seasoning, don’t fret. Simply presenting new flavors builds familiarity and positive associations with food over time.

Mix up your mornings with ideas from our guide, 50 Breakfasts for Babies & Toddlers.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with quark?

There are lots of easy ways to enjoy quark. Mix it into a smoothie, fold it into eggs, or serve on its own in a bowl with fresh berries. Quark can stand in for yogurt in almost any savory or sweet recipe. Try whipping quark with herbs and seasonings to make a dip for fresh fruits and vegetables—or a spread for bagels, bread, or sandwiches. Because it does not melt, you can crumble it into frittatas, omelets, and kugel or blend it into soups, stews, or sauces for meatballs and pasta. Mix quark into batters for muffins, pancakes, or waffles. It also tastes delicious in mashed vegetables. Try mixing quark into mashed potatoes and mix any leftovers with sauerkraut to make pierogis—the stuffed dumplings popular across Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.

Recipe: Kräuter Quark (Herb Dip) with Cucumber Spears

a square white bowl filled with herbed quark with one cucumber spear stuck into it and another spear lying to the right of the bowl with a bit of quark spread on one end

Yield: 1 cup (240 milliliters)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (quark). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced. Always check the labels of store-bought processed foods, such as quark. Added ingredients may include honey, which should not be given to babies under 12 months of age.

Directions

  1. Wash, dry, and cut the cucumber into age-appropriate sizes. Set aside.
  2. Place the quark in a mixing bowl. If the quark is very thick, whisk in a splash of milk or water. The consistency should be a little loose and saucy.
  3. Wash and zest the lemon. Stir the zest into the quark. Store the fruit for another use.
  4. Wash and dry 3 or 4 sprigs from each type of herb that you are using, then store the rest for another use. Finely chop the herbs and stir them into the quark. If you are using dried herbs, start with ½ teaspoon (1 gram) of each, then increase the amount to taste.
  5. Whisk the garlic powder into the quark, then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes to let the flavors infuse the cheese. If you are in a rush, it’s okay to serve the dip right away. It will be delicious either way!

Serve the Quark:

  1. Scoop some dip into baby’s bowl and top with some cucumbers. Serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat.
  2. Serve and let baby self-feed. If baby struggles to pick up the food, swipe a piece of cucumber in the dip and pass it in the air for baby to grab from you. Eat some dip alongside baby to model how it’s done!

To Store: Kräuter Quark (Herb Dip) keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. Cut cucumbers keep in an airtight container filled with water in the refrigerator for 4 days.

Flavor Pairings

Quark pairs well with the flavors of barley, buckwheat, chicken, egg, pork, and rye.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  2. FDA. (2018). The dangers of raw milk: Unpasteurized milk can pose a serious health risk. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  3. Ferreiro, T., Martínez, S., Gayoso, L., & Rodríguez-Otero, J. L. (2016). Evolution of phospholipid contents during the production of quark cheese from buttermilk. Journal of dairy science, 99(6), 4154–4159. DOI: 10.3168/jds.2016-10861. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  4. Mathur, H., Beresford, T. P., & Cotter, P. D. (2020). Health Benefits of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) Fermentates. Nutrients12(6), 1679. DOI: 10.3390/nu12061679. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  5. Ferreiro, T., Martínez, S., Gayoso, L., & Rodríguez-Otero, J. L. (2016). Evolution of phospholipid contents during the production of quark cheese from buttermilk. Journal of dairy science, 99(6), 4154–4159. DOI: 10.3168/jds.2016-10861. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  6. Warren, C.M., Jhaveri, S., Warrier, M.R., Smith, B., Gupta, R.S. (2013). The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunology, 110(5):370-374. DOI:10.1016/j.anai.2013.02.016. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  7. El-Agamy, E. (2007). The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research, 68, 64-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.09.016. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  8. Mukkada, V. (2019). Cow’s milk protein allergy. GI Kids. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  9. Nowak-Węgrzyn A. (2015). Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome and allergic proctocolitis. Allergy Asthma Proc. 36(3):172-84. doi: 10.2500/aap.2015.36.3811. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  10. InformedHealth.org. (2018). Living with lactose intolerance. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  11. Sophia J. Oak & Rajesh Jha (2019) The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 59:11, 1675-1683, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1425977. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  12. Lepesioti S, Zoidou E, Lioliou D, Moschopoulou E, Moatsou G. (2021). Quark-Type Cheese: Effect of Fat Content, Homogenization, and Heat Treatment of Cheese Milk. Foods. 2021;10(1):184. doi:10.3390/foods10010184. Retrieved July 11, 2022
  13. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Lactose intolerance: Shopping tips for lactose-intolerant people. 2010 Sep 15 [Updated 2018 Nov 29]