A Failed Experiment

Last week, I finally tried the experiment I’d been thinking about doing for a few months. Quark cheese is the only “beneficial” cheese on my SWAMI, but I really don’t do well on any cow’s milk products other than butter or ghee. So I figured I should use goat milk to make more quark, instead of using the cow’s milk kind. I’d gotten two packages of frozen quark cheese for free a few months back, and the second one was in my fridge. I’d been eating about a teaspoonful a day, trying to find a balance between getting the beneficial probiotics from the culture, and not taking in too much cow’s milk protein.

Years ago, Fairway used to carry a local brand of goat’s milk that was pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized. I used to drink it regularly before starting the blood type diet. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any. I’m not sure if they were out of stock or if they’ve stopped carrying the product. So I bought a quart of the national brand of ultra-pasteurized goat milk, even though I’m not sure that ultra-pasteurized milks will culture well.

I tried to find a recipe for quark cheese that used quark cheese as a starter culture. I figured that would give me the best results in terms of how much starter to use, how warm the milk should be, etc. I found recipes for making quark cheese out of buttermilk, or out of a purchased starter, but not the exact thing I was looking for.

Following the directions I could find, I warmed the milk on the stove, then added a bit of the quark and stirred for a while. I kept the combination warm for a little while, but then I let it cool to room temperature to finish culturing. After a few hours, the milk wasn’t thick like buttermilk. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t use enough quark cheese as a starter, I didn’t keep it warm enough, or if the pasteurized goat milk just won’t culture properly. It’s also possible that the old, frozen then thawed quark cheese just wasn’t potent enough to use as a culture at all.

I let the mixture sit at room temperature for longer, hoping that the combination of “not warm enough” and “not enough microbes in the starter culture” just meant it needed more time. After a day, I peeked at it and saw that it was starting to separate into curds and whey, so I moved it into the fridge. It was already Shabbos by this time and I couldn’t strain it immediately.

Then I strained it on Sunday morning. The texture seemed OK, but it smelled a bit strong, like spoiled milk. I tasted the amount that stuck to my fingertip when I dipped it in. It didn’t have that slightly sweet, very tangy flavor that cultured dairy should have. It simply tasted spoiled. It left a funny feeling in my mouth. I tried a second fingertip’s worth a few minutes later to verify. Yup, same thing. This was spoiled milk, not a delicious cultured cheese.

I had to throw the whole thing out.

I may try doing this again, if I can get ahold of properly fresh ingredients, including goat milk that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized. But it’s not a high priority.

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