Limburger is a type of soft cheese made from cow's milk. Traditionally, it is made in Belgium, Holland and Germany. It is known for its saturated taste and pungent odor. In fact, along with Muenster, Taleggio, Stilton and Camembert, it is among the smelliest cheeses in the world.
History of Limburger
Limburger is among the dairy products with a centuries' long history. Man has been preparing this cheese since the Middle Ages. Initially, it was made by Trappist monks in the historic Duchy of Limburg, where the name of the cheese originates. Currently, the lands of the former Duchy are divided among modern Germany, Holland and Belgium.
In its early days, Limburger was only well-known in the region of these 3 countries but during the last century it began gaining worldwide popularity. Its fame is chiefly due to its characteristic heavy aroma. This in turn became a reason for foreigners to call it a smelly German cheese.
After the 40s of the 19th century, there were attempts made in the US, more specifically in the state of Wisconsin, to produce the cheese there as well. This undertaking was initiated by European immigrants. Years later, the American Rudolph Benkert made the cheese in his home cellar using pasteurized goat's milk. Not long after, there sprung up factories producing Limburger.
During the 30s of the last century, the number of factories grew to more than 100. Today, only the Chalet Cheese Co-Op company produces the famed stinky cheese in the US. Limburger is also made in New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada. But the biggest producer is still Germany.
Composition of Limburger
As with all dairy products, Limburger contains numerous vitamins and valuable nutrients. It has notable amounts of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, cholesterol, sugars, proteins and water. It is a source of sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. Vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B4, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin E are also found in it.
Production of Limburger
As stated, cow's milk is used in Limburger production. The milk substance is pasteurized at a temperature of 161.6°F (72 °C). Then, it is cooled down to 86°F (30 °C). Next, the bacterial culture Brevibacterium linens is put in the milk, at which point it is time for the next key step - adding rennet to curdle the substance.
Then it is once again time to heat the product to 95°F (35 °C). The resulting cheese is placed in rectangular forms and salted. It is left to mature 14 days in special rooms with high humidity. After, the temperature is lowered to 50°F (10 °C) and the Limburger is left to age 2-3 months. Finally, the cheese is ready for distribution in retail chains.
Characteristics of Limburger
The ready-to-sell cheese usually has a rectangular form and weighs 7 oz (200 g) or 17.5 oz (500 g). It is more crumbly at first but after the first month its consistency softens. Limburger is distinguished by a yellowish or orange crust. Sometimes, parts of white mold can be present on it. The inside of the cheese is soft, smooth, creamy, with pores. It is characterized by a spicy taste and very sharp odor. The aroma of Limburger strengthens over time.
Choosing and Storing Limburger
If you happen upon this cheese, check to make sure that it has been well packaged, as well as the expiration date. After buying Limburger, store it in the fridge, making sure to keep it away from other food products, since there is a risk of it transferring its pungent smell over to them.
Also take care to wrap the cheese in plastic wrap or store it in a plastic food container. If the cheese is stored in the way described it can be consumed for up to 3 weeks after. If stored in a freezer, it will be suitable for use even longer. But keep in mind that if frozen it won't have the same taste and culinary properties as before.
At the risk of causing disappointment, let us mention that this cheese is not very suitable for heat treatment. But it can be added to all kinds of fresh salads, in combination with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, avocado, broccoli. It also goes excellently with leafy vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, lettuce, dock, arugula and turkey and chicken meat.
This cheese is perfect for sandwiches, most frequently eaten with rye bread, fresh onions and mustard. Other appropriate ingredients are pickles, cheese, ham, sardines and anchovies. Limburger is used added to baked potatoes with butter. It can also be used in sandwiches with blueberry or strawberry jam, as well as with certain types of biscuits.
Limburger cheese can be served on its own too. In that case it is good to find an appropriate drink to have with it. You can go with cider, beer or a red wine such as Bordeaux, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.