Limburger Cheese: Just as Stinky as You Like it.

Chalet House Co-op Limburger

Chalet Cheese Co-op Limburger

Remember Monterey Jack on the Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers (Rescue Rangers= the cartoon, not the burlesque show)? Well, Monty, as he was known to his friends, was the Australian mouse who helped chipmunks Chip and Dale fight crime. Yet even though he was darn good at helping to put the right fox, cat, or dog in prison, he was better known for his love for cheese.

There was one cheese in particular that if he got a wiff of it, he was gone. Taken. Impassioned. Spent. Could do nothing else until he found that cheese and made it his own. That cheese was Limburger. Even though Monty was a secure mouse and never cared about what others thought, it was apparent in some episodes that Chip n’ Dale thought Monty was crazy for loving a cheese that could smell so strong. Well, Chip n’ Dale were not always the brightest, most cultured rodents.

The fussy chipmunks just didn’t have the opportunity to taste Limburger at the age that would have pleased them. Oh, but I have. I have.

Just washed down, eagerly waiting sweet funk to accumulate.

Just washed down, eagerly waiting sweet funk to accumulate.

When I headed to Wisconsin last week to do delicious research for my cheese book, head cheesemaker Myron Olson at Chalet Cheese Co-op tasted us on Limburger at three stages- young & mild, slightly older & soft & sweet, and older & gooey & funky and strong. Amazing. Even though they were all versions of the same washed-rind cheese, the flavors, textures, and strength of the different ages varied like crazy. Honey mustard, rye bread and strawberry jam were also on board too. Young, the Limburger tasted like a fresh, less creamy Red Hawk. Older, the cheese tasted of and had the texture of Tallegio. Oldest, it tasted strong and pungent and begged for its classic pairing of rye bread, honey mustard and onion slices.

Below I share with you photos from my tour at the Chalet Cheese Co-op- the only remaining Limburger producer in the country. If you see Limburger in the U.S. that is made in the country, it’s Chalet. It may have a proprietary label, but it is always Chalet pumping the sweetly funky flavor out. Pick it up and note the dates on the label- they will guide you to finding a cheese age you love. And you will love one of them. More about Limburger in my forthcoming book.

Large bricks before sliced into smaller portions for shipment and sale, pre-washing.

Large pre-washed Limburger bricks before being sliced into smaller, to-go portions.

limburgerbucket*

Bucket holding the Limburger wash- when rubbed with this salt-water brine, the cheese takes on its signature funky sweetness.

Bricks after salting and waiting to be washed

Bricks after salting and first or second washing. Scent developing.

The foggy room the cheese is washed down in. Seriously- not a poor exposure thing- it's as humid as it looks.

The foggy room the cheese is washed down in. Seriously- not a poor exposure thing- it's as humid as it looks.

After the cheese has received sufficient sponge baths, every piece is wrapped up in thin foil by this custom machine.

After the cheese has received sufficient sponge baths, every piece is wrapped up in thin foil by this custom machine.

Master Cheesemaker Myron Olson, accepting an award for

Master Cheesemaker Myron Olson, accepting an award for his cheese, 1992.

MyronOlson

Myron Olson now, showing off the small "Limburger Forever" tattoo on his right arm (I couldn't actually read it, but I deeply felt this was what it said).

Limburger ready to be shipped to a walk-the-plank style distribution company. Danger.

Limburger ready to be shipped to a walk-the-plank style distribution company. Danger.

Limburger style.

Limburger style.

Places to find Chalet Cheese (please add to the list in the comments section!):

Bi-Rite, San Francisco

Maple Leaf Cheese Sales, WI (will ship, but not recommended in summer)  608-934-1237

Hefty Creek Specialities, WI (owned by one of Chalet Cheese’s award-winning cheesemaker and yodeler), [email protected], 608/325-6311

Have you had a chance to try Limburger at its different stages? What did you think? Which is your favorite?