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Preparing a favorite summer dessert, St. Colomba Cream, for the first time in Maine, I didn't quite know what to use instead of the Sahnequark (cream quark) the recipe requires.
Well, it has cream in it, I mused, and so has mascarpone. And that's what I took.
But instead of creating a smooth, velvety dessert, I ended up with a dense and uber-rich vanilla cream. With 30% more fat than it should have had, the saintly Irish gooseberry dessert weighed down our stomach like a stone.
Moving from Europe to the US, I had to adjust to several new, or somewhat different, dairy products.
I was, also, amazed at all the low, or no-fat choices in the dairy aisle. (Not to mention my confusion about no-fat yogurt consumption on one hand, and obesity rate on the other).
Some products seemed to be just the same as their German namesakes. But were they, really?
|Schmand /Sauerrahm is soured cream|
And the American equivalent to quark?
The difference between Austrian "Schlagobers" and German "Schlagsahne"? The translation for both is "whipping cream"! (But Schlagobers has more fat.)
Fortunately, finding the right American substitute for most of these European milk products is not as crucial as it is for flour types.
The difference is often the fat content. But in many cases you can exchange a full fat into low-fat dairy to make a leaner version of a recipe, and vice versa.
But it is always good to know what you are doing, if you try to find a workable substitute for Schlagsahne, sour cream & Co.
|Cream cheese:very popular in Europe, too|
Some American cheeses, like cottage cheese and cream cheese, made their way overseas, same as some milk products of European origin are available in the US (like ricotta, mascarpone and crème fraîche.)
|German Käsekuchen is less denser and lighter than its US cousin|
Though there are a few creameries in the US that produce it, you will find quark very rarely in supermarkets, and it is ridiculously expensive.
To make Käsekuchen, the traditional German cheesecake, without quark, I had to develop my own version.
These are commonly used dairy products in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the US, with their fat content.
SWEET DAIRY PRODUCTS (available in:)
Germany/Austria/Switzerland US Fat Content (%)
Fettarme Milch Low-fat Milk 1 - 2
Vollmilch Whole Milk 3.5
- Half and Half 10.5 - 18
- Light Cream 18 - 30
Schlagsahne Whipping Cream 30 - 36 Schlagobers Heavy Cream 36 or more
Creme double - 40
Süssrahm-Butter Sweet Cream Butter 80 - 82
SOURED DAIRY PRODUCTS (available in:)
Germany/Austria/Switzerland US Fat Content (%)
Buttermilch Buttermilk 0 - 2
Magermilchjoghurt Low-fat Yogurt 2
Dickmilch - 3.5
Kefir Kefir 3.5
Joghurt Plain Yogurt 3.5 - 4
Frischkäse Leicht Light Cream Cheese 7
- Light Sour Cream 7.2 - 8
Magerquark (Low-fat Quark) 10
Hüttenkäse Cottage Cheese 10
Saure Sahne - 10
Griechischer Joghurt Greek Yogurt 10
Sahnejoghurt - 10 or more
- Sour Cream 12 - 16
Ricotta Ricotta 13
Quark/Topfen (Quark) 20
Schmand/Sauerrahm - 20 - 29
Crème fraîche Crème fraîche 30 - 40
Frischkäse Cream Cheese 34
Sahnequark - 40
Mascarpone Mascarpone 70 or more
Sauerrahm-Butter Sour Cream Butter 80 - 82
This list is certainly not complete. It might have errors, for those I apologize. But it is the best information I could find.
European supermarkets offer less low-fat versions of dairy products than American stores (you will not find a low fat ricotta or mascarpone), but, instead, more higher fat cream options (Sahnejoghurt, Sahnequark), and I didn't include any no-fat products in my list - no fat is no fat!
Some American dairy products differ only slightly from their European counterparts, like butter - US: 80% fat, European: 82% - these two percent are only relevant for pastries with laminated dough, like croissants.
|Croissants are easier to make with European butter|
Some differ slightly in their taste: yogurt and buttermilk in Europe are a bit more acidic than in the US.
But you can safely exchange dairy products with a similar consistency, acidity, and a fat content that's not too far apart.
HOW TO SUBSTITUTE:
If there is an American equivalent listed in the same row, use it: (like Buttermilch = buttermilk, etc.)
For Schlagsahne and Schlagobers: use whipping cream or heavy cream. For a leaner version: light cream or half-and-half (only, if it doesn't need to be whipped.)
For Crème double: use heavy cream (or make a leaner version with whipping or light cream.)
For Dickmilch: use kefir or yogurt (low-fat or regular.)
For Saure Sahne: use Greek yogurt or sour cream (light or regular.)
For Sahnejoghurt: use Greek yogurt (full fat) or sour cream.
|Quark, often labeled Speisequark, is hard to find in the US|
With quark (often marketed as "Speisequark") it is a bit of a challenge. Like Greek yogurt it has been strained of most of its whey.
- Magerquark (10%): use full fat Greek yogurt instead
- Quark (20%): for pastry, use cream cheese. For creamy desserts, use full fat Greek yogurt, or a cream cheese/sour cream mixture*)
- Sahnequark (40%) : use a mixture of cream cheese and crème fraiche or sour cream. Or blend half mascarpone/ half cottage cheese in a blender.
|Irish St. Colomba Cream, made with gooseberries and quark|