Limburger is a complicated cheese, and much more challenging than most American cheeses. Before you try Limburger, you should think about why you want to try it. Every joke that could be made about Limburger has already been made, and it doesn’t need another person trying it for the sake of making fun of it. Limburger needs some serious-minded testers willing to give it an honest chance.
If you are ready, here are some suggestions for your first Limburger experience.
1. Find a Limburger that is as about 2-3 months old. The labels should tell you when it was made, and like all smear-ripened cheese, the smear bacteria continues to age the cheese even as it is in the grocery store waiting for you. 2-3 months is a great time for Limburger; combining a great texture with a more mild flavor. The smell is still strong, but by the time Limburger reaches 4-6 months, all you can smell is ammonia, so avoid old Limburger.
2. When you get the Limburger, go ahead and take it out of its packaging, which you should then discard. Take a paper towel and wipe down the surface of the cheese — this removes some of the smear bacteria and thus slows down ripening and removes some smell. The idea here is to get the Limburger to a place where you can put it on a plate with other cheeses and not have it overpower other things.
3. Choose some other cheeses that will showcase the Limburger.
A traditional smear-ripened Brick cheese (also called German Style Brick or Foil Wrapped Brick). This is very similar in make to Limburger, but is a semi-hard cheese like cheddar and will give you some notes of Limburger while remaining mild. It is sometimes called “the married man’s Limburger” because the smell is less offensive.
A flavorful French-style soft cheese like Saint Andre or even a brie. Some of these cheeses are also “stinky” in their own way, and also share a similar texture to Limburger.
A Colby or other mild semi-soft cheese as a palate cleanser. Choose a nice textured cheese that you can pair with the Limburger on a cracker to lessen the flavor to your liking.
Plate everything along with some rye bread, crackers, strong mustard and onions. Add other accompaniments as you wish — pickles might be nice, or anything with vinegar. Avoid wine and stick to beer. Enjoy!
Becca is very tough on 5-6 month Limburger, but I think it’s a cheese that can and should be enjoyed (in moderation). If you’ve got the right stuff (rye bread, onions, mustard) to stand up to the flavor and you apply the cheese judiciously, there’s a depth of flavor that can’t be beat.