Limburger is a cheese that originated in the historical Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided among modern-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The cheese, which is especially known for its pungent odor, was first made in the 19th century.
It was first produced by Rudolph Benkerts in 1867 in his cellar from pasteurized goat's milk. A few years later, 25 factories produced this cheese. Today, most Limburger is made in Germany. The Williams Cheese Company, located in Linwood, Michigan, and the Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wisconsin are the only North American companies that make this cheese.
Herve cheese is a kind of Limburger produced in the Land of Herve, a region of Wallonia located between the Vesdre and Meuse rivers and the borders separating Belgium from the Netherlands and Germany.
In its first month, the cheese is more firm and crumbly, similar to the texture of feta cheese. After about six weeks, the cheese becomes softer along the edges but is still firm on the inside and can be described as salty and chalky. After two months of its life, it is mostly creamy and much smoother. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because the bacterium used to ferment Limburger cheese and other rind-washed cheeses is Brevibacterium linens, the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for body odor.
One of the most traditional forms of eating limburger is the limburger sandwich. After three months, when the cheese has ripened, it becomes spreadable. The cheese is often spread thickly (> 0.5 cm.) on firm textured 100% rye bread, with a large, thick slice of onion, and is typically served with strong black coffee or lager beer. Alternatively, for heartier eaters, chunks or slices of the cheese up to 1.5 cm. thick can be cut off the block and placed in the sandwich. This sandwich still remains very popular among the descendants of German immigrants residing in the midwest part of America, such as in Cincinnati, or German Village in Columbus, Ohio. However, it is markedly less popular among the descendants born after ca. 1960, mainly because of the permeating smell, and the inconvenience of going to specialty cheese and sausage shops to obtain it. In Wisconsin, the Limburger sandwich can be found on menus at certain restaurants, accompanied with brown mustard.
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