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What is Limburger?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Limburger cheese is a shockingly odorous cheese which originates in Belgium. Most individuals who have been in the vicinity of this cheese remember the smell, which has been likened to rotting feet or moldy boots. Some consumers are in fact utterly unable to get over the smell and experience of the flavor of the cheese, which is actually quite excellent. As the smell indicates, Limburger has a strong and aggressive flavor, which is very popular in many parts of Europe.

While Limburger is originally from an area that's part of modern-day Belgium, many German dairies manufacture the cheese as well, as do some places in North America. The distinctive cheese goes well with strong bitter foods, like rye bread and onions, and many consumers greatly enjoy the taste on a sandwich, in a salad, or in other culinary settings.

Limburger's distinct odor is partly due to the fact that it is a washed rind cheese. During the curing process, the cheese is periodically washed with a mild brine solution, which prevents many bacteria and molds from settling in. In the briny environment, enzymes thrive on the surface of the cheese, and they will begin to break down the proteins inside. Limburger is also fermented with Brevibacterium linens, the same bacteria responsible for body odor, and this contributes to the odor.

This cheese starts with milk that is heated with rennet and special cultures. After being allowed to sit, this warmed milk separates into whey, which is discarded, and curds, which are cut to release additional whey and then packed into molds for pressing. Limburger is traditionally made in salted rectangular molds and allowed to ripen in high humidity for approximately two weeks. After this, the temperature is lowered and the cheese is aged for two to three months before being offered for sale.

Limburger is a soft, creamy cheese with a soft rind. The cheese is usually creamy to pale yellow, with a darker orange rind. It tastes very strong, spicy and aromatic, reminding some consumers of meat. There is also a hint of sweetness to the cheese as well.

Because of the smell, inexperienced consumers need to be careful with Limburger. If the cheese begins to go bad or is exposed to harmful bacteria, consumers may confuse the smell with that of perfectly healthy Limburger. It is recommended that it be kept tightly wrapped under refrigeration, and that if the cheese smells or tastes suspect, or develops mold, that it be thrown away.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon984435 — On Jan 08, 2015

Very strong smell, but is delicious!

By Foster7173 — On Nov 26, 2014

It is delicious once you get past the smell (pair it with a strong beer, liverwurst and onions and you no longer notice the odor, as it blends in). Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my grandfather, the above combination (although mine was root beer or Orange Crush) and football. For a little girl, this was sheer heaven and I can still taste the onions and cheese on saltine crackers.

By Katerina1982 — On Dec 23, 2012

What would possess a human to desire to eat something that smells of rotting athlete's feet? It seems counterintuitive and counterproductive!

By anon284030 — On Aug 07, 2012

My German grandfather loved this cheese; as a child I was always afraid of it. Some 25 years after his passing, I was compelled to try it as a way of honoring his memory. I am my grandfather's grandson, and I love this stuff! It smells great and tastes great. I can't believe I was scared away from this stuff. One man's stink is another man's olfactory delight. I'm going out for more tomorrow. I fear I'm about to become addicted. I worry I'm going to become a huge, bloated cheese eating beast (finally I'll fit in with my fellow Americans).

By anon262485 — On Apr 19, 2012

I learned to love natto and figured I'd try this. My boyfriend came home with it to see if I would eat it and indeed the smell was off-putting at first. It literally smelled like a rotting dog carcass with maggots coming out of it, but I decided to try it anyway.

I tasted a tiny bit and it was bitter and kind of tasted like a dead rotting carcass so I put it back in the fridge. About 10 minutes later I decided to try again, this time adding it to a bagel with some Muenster. I could definitely taste it but it was more manageable. Then I mixed it in with cream cheese, garlic powder, herbs and salt. Delicious. Now I'm addicted to the cheese and will eat chunks of it in my sandwiches barely a day after I first tried it.

By anon119042 — On Oct 16, 2010

Limburger is good, but foil brick is equally as good. try it. I just finished a sandwich on a wheat bun the only way to eat it.

By anon2134 — On Jun 29, 2007

It smells terrible. I will bring it to a party next time I am invited to one. It does tastes good though, just takes guts to get over the smell.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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