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Dry cottage cheese, also known as quark, or farmer's cheese, is cottage cheese without any additional dairy added to it after the cheese is formed. Normally made from cow's milk, but also made from goat's milk, this cheese is particularly common in Hungarian, Russian, and Ukrainian cuisine. When ordinary cottage cheese is made, salt and cream or milk are added at the end to give the cottage cheese the familiar texture of cheese suspended in a creamy liquid. The process used to make dry cottage cheese is essentially the same as making typical grocery store cottage cheese except that the final step of adding the salted milk or cream is skipped. This leaves only the curds that have been drained of their whey.
Though this product, sometimes known as dry curd cottage cheese, is an ingredient in a number of recipes, including casseroles, noodle dishes, and desserts, it can be difficult to find. The most likely place to locate dry cottage cheese is in specialty grocery stores that carry many local and artisan products. Some grocers that do not carry the product in store can order it. When this product is not readily available, it can be made at home by draining the liquid from store-bought cottage cheese with cheesecloth.
Dry cottage cheese is commonly found in foods ranging from savory tomato sauce or bacon to sweet and tart desserts like custard, lemon, or sweet berries. This ingredient is favored in filled dishes like lasagna, pasta dumplings, and blintzes because the lower moisture keeps it from becoming runny. Since dairy is not added to the dry cottage cheese at the end of the process, it remains a lactose-free food which can be eaten by most people who are sensitive to the milk sugar lactose.
This cheese has a mild flavor, which makes it versatile enough to be paired with many other flavors. Dry cottage cheese bears some similarities to ricotta, though it not made from whey like ricotta is. In addition to its use in recipes that call for it specifically, this cheese also be substituted for cottage cheese in any instance when the dish would benefit from less moisture.
Though dry cottage cheese and farmer's cheese are generally interchangeable, some dairy brands press their farmer's cheese into blocks. This process can make the cottage cheese lose its individual curds to some degree, forming a texture somewhat like a crumbly mozzarella. Some cooks find that the texture of this slightly pressed cheese does not work as well in recipes calling for dry curds.