Limburger cheese (pronounced LIM-ber-guhr) was first made by trappist monks in Belgium. Like many types of trappist cheese, limburger is a cow's milk cheese with a washed rind that gives it a bold flavor and stinky aroma. This aroma has made the cheese famous, or rather, infamous, as one of the stinkiest cheeses out there.
Some say that although the aroma of limburger is strong, the flavor isn't quite as bold as you might expect.
For some, this is a relief, for others, a bit of a letdown. The flavor is also described as salty, spicy, meaty and a little sharp.
The texture of limburger is soft and supple. The rind is edible, if you like the flavor and texture. If the rind detracts from the flavor and texture of the cheese, then don't eat it. The rind is often slightly damp, but shouldn't be wet and saggy or bulging and cracked. While the aroma is strong, it shouldn't smell like ammonia or rancid milk.
Washed rind cheeses like limburger are either rubbed or bathed in brine or alcohol. Washing the rind encourages beneficial and flavorful bacteria and discourages inedible mold. The moist rind develops a strong aroma over time and the cheese inside typically has a strong flavor as well. The moisture on the rind also helps keep the cheese soft and creamy.
Where Do They Make Limburger?
Much limburger now comes from Germany, and it is mostly thought of as a German cheese rather than a Belgiain one.
Limburger is also made in the United States. The Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wisconsin claims to be the only producer of all the surface-ripened Limburger made in the United States.
Limburger is sold in 8 ounce bricks. To store limburger, wrap it in cheese paper and keep it in the refrigerator.
If the aroma becomes too much, then put the cheese in a sealed container.
The salty, meaty flavor of limburger pairs well with beer (try a trappist beer to go with this trappist cheese) rye bread, onions and mustard. It can be made into a sandwich, or served on a platter with these foods on the side.
If you like limburger, you'll also like other similar cheeses like muenster, epoisses, livarot. Ask your cheesemonger for other suggestions of washed rind cheeses. If you'd like to try making your own limburger at home, try this limburger recipe from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.