Limburger cheese is a semi-soft cheese with a powerful aroma reminiscent of dirty socks. The cheese was first created in the 1800s in Europe, specifically in the Belgian province of Liege, but it quickly became associated with Germany once the cheese migrated there. The traditional way Europeans eat Limburger cheese is on rye bread in the form of a sandwich, but there are many other ways to eat the strong-smelling dairy product. In the United States Limburger cheese is served as a snacking cheese, paired with specific foods and drinks and even baked in main and side dishes.
Traditional Serving Suggestions
Despite all the jokes circulating about how stinky Limburger cheese is, the truth is that the flavor is mild enough for sandwiches, especially if you cut away the outer rind. The more the cheese ages, the more the bacteria Brevibacterium Linens, the same bacteria that's partially responsible for body odor and stinky feet in humans, encourages a funky aroma to develop, especially in the rind, but don't let that scare you. Make a traditional Limburger sandwich by placing thick slices of the cheese on two slices of rye bread. Add a thick slice of onion on top of one of the pieces of bread and some mustard before closing the sandwich and serving it with strong coffee, a lager or an ale.
Limburger cheese works well as a snacking cheese. Despite coming on strong with an ammonia-like aroma, the flavor is nutty and mild. It pairs well with crackers and fruit. Combine it with strawberry or fig jam on crackers, and let the sweetness of the jam bring out the nuttiness of the cheese. The colder the cheese is, the less it smells, but you lose some flavor if you eat it right out of the refrigerator.
Cooking With Limburger
Because Limburger has subtle flavors resembling mushrooms, it goes well with egg and pasta dishes. You can mix Limburger with other cheeses to use on pizza, but one of the best ways to serve this cheese cooked is to add it to French onion soup. Use beef stock, caramelized onions, bread crumbs and Limburger cheese in your onion soup recipe. The Limburger cheese on top of the soup baked with breadcrumbs in the oven elevates the traditional French soup recipe by adding more complex and potent flavors.
Because Limburger isn't exactly a wallflower, even though the flavor is mild, it can stand up to hearty meat dishes. Serve slices of Limburger melted on steaks or hamburgers, serve sliced lamb and Limburger cheese on a salad with balsamic vinegar dressing for an impressive appetizer or entree, or melt Limburger on beef chili and serve it with cornbread.
- The Cheese Book; Vivienne Marquis and Patricia Haskell
- The Naked Scientists: Why Do Toenails Smell Like Cheese?
- Cheese Primer; Steven Jenkins
- Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying; Janet Fletcher and Victoria Pearson
- Photo Credit Hopfphotography/iStock/Getty Images
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