Back in the 50’s, cottage cheese was a staple ingredient in modern kitchens and a major player in trendy diets.
Every potluck dinner and picnic lunch featured cottage cheese in some form: in lasagna fillings, on top of green salads or fruit salads, even mixed in with Jell-O.
Why was it so popular?
Cottage cheese was such a hit because it was considered nutritious and versatile (and lighter than cream cheese), plus it was usually sold in plastic tubs in the general grocery stores. Its rise in popularity is comparable to the current Greek yogurt craze.
But how does it compare to the dairy heavyweights of today?
A new cheese on the block
These days cottage cheese doesn’t demand much attention.
The main reason for this is most likely competition in the ever-evolving dairy market.
These days, cottage cheese’s biggest threat is a dairy newcomer called Quark (sometimes called farmers cheese).
Like other fresh cheeses, cottage cheese and Quark are made from curdled (not soured) milk (either whole or skim) and separating the curds (solids) from the whey (liquid).
That’s pretty much all you need to do to make cottage cheese, but there are few extra steps to the Quark-making process.
After the curds are separated from the whey, they’re pressed and drained to create a smoother, creamier texture (unlike cottage cheese’s clumpy consistency).
The final dairy product looks very much like sour cream, fromage blanc, or a fresh, thick, Greek-style yogurt, but it’s not! It’s still a cheese!
How is Quark like cottage cheese?
Certainly, it’s fair to compare cottage cheese vs. Quark for several reasons.
To begin, both are actually good for you.
Overall, they’re high in protein, low in calories and saturated fat, and are sources of vitamins and minerals.
They are calcium rich
In particular, Quark and cottage cheese are loaded with calcium, which we need to grow healthy bones and teeth. For women worried about osteoporosis, both dairy products are smart food choices.
They’re protein rich
Another plus for both cottage cheese and Quark is that they’re relatively high in protein (with Quark scoring a bit higher), which helps to build muscle.
They’re both great snacks when you need a quick pick-me-up or they can be used in recipes to round out a meal.
(I would also mention that Quark has a lot of applications outside of the kitchen, and is an incredible beauty product!)
It’s low in calories
The fact that cottage cheese has relatively low fat content and is low in calories has always been a huge selling point.
In fact, it became synonymous with “weight loss” and such a popular way to lose weight that a “Cottage Cheese Diet” was created.
Similarly, Quark remains low in calories while still scoring high in protein.
Both Quark and cottage cheese can be enjoyed on their own, straight from the container. In this way they’re excellent on-the-go snacks for all ages.
What’s more, they can be used as a major ingredient in a variety of recipes.
For example, top a refreshing fruit salad with cottage cheese, whip up a Quark cheesecake at the last minute, or use either ingredient to create a tasty casserole or rich mashed potatoes for your family’s dinner.
The fall of cottage cheese
Despite its early popularity, cottage cheese isn’t the hot-ticket item it used to be.
Undeniably, Greek yogurt (with multiple brands, forms, and fresh fruit flavors) has burst onto the scene as the not-to-be-missed, delicious, protein-packed dairy product.
That being said, Quark still outstrips Greek yogurt in many important ways.
And with all the fanfare surrounding Greek yogurt, cottage cheese faded into the background.
The silent competitor
Since cottage cheese is currently out of the spotlight, it makes sense to compare it with Quark cheese, a lesser-known dairy product with similar properties.
How do Quark and cottage cheese compare?
Let’s face it, cottage cheese is boring. No matter how you dress it up, it’s never going to be the life of the party. Not only that, it has an old-fashioned, “be there done that” vibe to it.
Quark, on the other hand, is new on the scene and, therefore, intriguing.
With a history stemming from Northern European and Slavic countries and its mysterious classification (is it a cheese or a yogurt?), Quark is fast becoming the “it” cheese.
Texture and flavor
Probably the main differences between cottage cheese and Quark are the texture and flavor.
The cottage cheese curds and water content makes a runny and lumpy dairy product, while Quark is thick and silky smooth.
In terms of flavor, cottage cheese has a weak, bland taste whereas Quark offers the rich satisfaction of yogurt without the sharp tang, which can be off-putting for many.
In a nutshell, cottage cheese tastes like it’s supposed to be good for you; Quark cheese tastes like a special treat!
It’s true that both dairy products are essentially good additions to your diet, but there’s one way in which quark beats out cottage cheese hands down: salt.
When it comes to the amount of sodium, cottage cheese has about ten times as much as Quark.
Quark is naturally low in salt and it doesn’t need any added to it to enhance the flavor because it’s already delicious!
For those of us who are mindful of sugar levels, here’s the deal with these types of curd cheeses.
Overall, plain Quark has less sugar than plain cottage cheese:
- Quark: 6g per 6 oz. serving
- Cottage cheese: 8.3 g per 6 oz. serving
Cottage cheese has significant levels of B12, plus B1, B3, B6 and vitamin A. Quark has vitamins B2, B6, B12, plus vitamins A and K2.
For some, digesting an enzyme called lactose that’s present in milk products can be troublesome.
Both cottage cheese and Quark have lower levels of lactose than almost all other cheeses:
- Quark contains: 2.7g per 100 g serving
- Cottage cheese contains: 3.3 g per 100 g serving
A modern cheese
A lot has changed in the food industry since the 1950’s.
New products are being introduced all the time that are far more complex in makeup and flavor.
Perhaps this is a sign that our tastes have evolved, too. Today, are we more discerning when it comes to snack foods and meals?
When compared with traditional cottage cheese, Quark cheese is a real revolution!
While it delivers a wallop of protein, it’s scant on sugar and salt and naturally low in calories.
With its creamy texture and adaptable flavor, it can be used in more recipes than lumpy cottage cheese or other types of cheese.
Best of all is the fact that you can eat it straight out of the container as a nutritious snack, but it tastes like a guilty pleasure.