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.