Are you from the Midwest and or of German descent? Well, this family recipe for Limburger Cheese a.k.a. Stink Cheese has got to be added to your Christmas list of food traditions. With just four ingredients, it’s a cinch to make. The hard part is finding a day when no one is home to cook the cheese because of the very potent smell (I’m being very kind).
It’s a German Thing
It’s been said that you have to grow up eating Limburger cheese to like it or have even a slight appreciation for the taste. Oh, and if you were born after 1960, the chances are even slimmer that you will be able to handle the smell that accompanies every bite or smear. Well, I did grow up with the smell of Limburger cheese cooking in our kitchen and I all I can say is thank you, mom. Thank you for keeping this traditional German recipe cooking in your kitchen for all those years even though it took at least a day for the potent smell (and I say this with love) to make its way out. Coming from a family of witty people, I think I’ve heard every one-liner possible associated with the smell of Limburger cheese. As soon as it comes out of the refrigerator and everyone starts smearing it on anything they can get their hands on, the jokes begin. I think I’ve seen my brother Mike (#4) dab a little behind an ear.
Limburger cheese originated back in the 19th century in the historical Duchy of Limburg which is now divided between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It’s at the 3-month mark when making the cheese that a strong smell is caused by the bacterium, Brevibacterium linens. Now I know that sounds a little technical but when smelling Limburger cheese, you have to wonder where does that pungent aroma come from?
My mom would also make stink cheese with Handkäse which is literally – hand cheese and is a sour milk cheese. It gets its name from the traditional way of making it “with one’s own hands.” It also has the same sharp and biting aroma of Limburger cheese. Handkäse is a specialty of Frankfort, Darmstadt, and parts of southern Hesse. I have a funny story about Handkäse. In 1997, I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Europe on a business trip. One day while he worked I wondered the streets of Utrecht which is located in the Netherlands. It was before the holidays, and I was determined to find Handkäse for my mom. I remember walking in a quaint cheese shop and trying to communicate with a non-English speaking proprietor. All I could think to do was use hand motions. So there I am using the parade wave for ‘hand’ and then pinched my nose to represent ‘stinky.’ It worked! He knew exactly what I was talking about by watching my hand motions. The bad part is, this happened at the beginning of the trip, so I carried that stinky cheese in my luggage for at least five days. Crazy American lady.
Koch Kase (Cook’s Cheese) is another recipe very similar to our Stink Cheese recipe. It calls for mixing cottage cheese and baking soda and then setting that out for twelve hours before cooking with milk, butter and American or Limburger cheese. I think our recipe seems so much easier.
Limburger Cheese a.k.a. Stink Cheese
I was very fortunate to make Stink Cheese with my mom the last three years she lived at home. Of course, there were not quantities written down on a recipe card; it was just a matter of getting the potency and consistency you preferred. It was in December of 2015 that my brother Mike and I got serious about writing out a recipe (a piece of scratch paper). He was visiting, and of course, I put him to work. These quantities will give you the perfect consistency and even after refrigeration it spreads magnificently!
Crack a Window!
The cooking time is, of course, the tough time as far as dealing with such a bold smelling cheese, but the best thing to do is crack a window, and I don’t care how cold it is outside. The ingredients which consist of Velveeta, butter, Limburger, and milk are all placed in a heavy saucepan and melted until smooth. The caraway seeds are optional, but I think they add a lot to the flavor. Caraway has an anise-like flavor and is used in a lot of European foods including everything from sauerkraut to cakes and bread.
How Do You Like Your Cheese?
As I mentioned above, my family members smear this cheese on just about anything. Some of my favorite ways to eat Stink Cheese is on a slice of bread and a piece of ham. In the picture above I have it on homemade crackers, and a chocolate chip cookie. The traditional German way of eating Limburger and Handkäse is on a sandwich with a thick slice of onion and accompanied by strong coffee or lager beer. How’s that sound?
Thanks For Stopping By
I hope you’ve enjoyed the post today. If you live in the Midwest, do you see Limburger cheese appear in your supermarket around the Holidays? That’s when it makes it appearance in our local store. If you follow @sockbox10 on Instagram, I posted a picture of the display in our local Tom’s Supermarket. I’ll be making another batch of Stink Cheese so I have enough for the holidays. What are your thoughts on cheeses with strong pungent smells? Does it bother you? Please consider leaving a message in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!
- 1 stick of Original Velveeta (32 ounces)
- 6 ounces of Limburger cheese
- 1 stick of butter
- '1½ cups milk
- Caraway seeds (I used approximately ⅓ cup)
- Place Velveeta, butter, Limburger, and milk in a heavy saucepan and heat till melted.
- Stir regularly to blend and smooth the cheeses.
- Stir in caraway seeds.
- Pour the cheese into containers with lids and bring to room temperature before refrigerating.
- You can serve warm by microwaving. This will thin the cheese if you prefer dipping.
- A funny note. My mom would use margarine containers to store the cheese. When opening the refrigerator and grabbing margarin you could possibly be greeted with the smell of Limburger.