The Liederkranz. Not the most comfortable word to pronounce, and if you’re not a cheese expert, it’s not a cheese that you’ll quickly find. It was created, loved, went extinct for nearly three decades, and then came back to life and found its way to our refrigerators. What is Liederkranz cheese? Is it just a ripoff, or is it a classic that can stand on its own feet?
Let’s dive into some cheese history facts, so we can answer those questions and let you continue with your cheese-loving adventures.
Just be careful. We got some smelly fighters here, so if you’re used to some fresh or generally younger type cheeses, be careful but don’t worry. If there’s one cheese that will get you to love this smelly delicacy, it’s the Liederkranz. Now let’s get to it!
Let’s start right at the beginning of creating our lead character today. Although, If we’re going to talk about Liederkranz cheese, first we have to start with the Limburger. See, Liederkranz is sort of the re-made version of the Limburger. You can consider it to be a Hollywood remake of a European classic. Well, A New York remake of a Belgian classic… but you get the point.
The history of the Limburger can be traced back to the 15th century. While the name “Limburger” is associated with a particular cheese that’s European protected, it’s also used for the style. And the type was made in Belgium, and it’s famous for its pungent smell and hard on the outside, but soft in the heart texture.
Fast forward a couple of centuries, and we found ourselves in 1891. Monroe, New York. Next to Emil Frey, a young Swiss cheesemaker was trying to create a version of it for the areas in which the German population resided. And finally, we have arrived, the Liederkranz!
The name comes from a local German singing society, “The Liederkranz Club,” and it was quite a hit. Emil Frey worked and moved around quite a lot, landing in Ohio in the 1930s, where he stayed for eight more years until he retired in 1938.
For a long time, the cheese was made there until a company that had the right to the name, Borden Company, switched to a processed cheese plan and got rid of its natural cheese line.
“Fisher Cheese Company” bought the name and produced it for a while but in 1985. they had bacterial contamination that made them pull Liederkranz from the market.
Fast forward some more, and we were in 2010. in Wisconsin, the DCI Cheese Company brought back bacterial cultures and cheeses that many believed were gone for good.
Liederkranz is famous for its strong, pungent smell and taste. And while it is a descendant of the Limburger, it is known to be of a milder strength. It is a pale yellow, semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk. Another difference in comparison to the Limburger is the texture. While similar on the outside, the Liederkranz has a creamier inside. See, the process of making them is different since we’re always going on about their differences.
Liederkranz is a smear-ripening cheese, a method in which bacterial cultures, in particular the Brevibacterium linens, are added to the cheese while it’s aging. Smear-ripened is famous for producing cheeses that are more on the smelly and robust side, which this is, but it is far from an extreme.
Where to Find it?
Liederkranz may not be the most accessible cheese to locate. After all, it was chained to a couple of locations throughout its history. Right now, you’re a lucky duck if you’re living in Ohio. You’ll probably be able to find it in individual cheese shops or markets. You would probably be safer sticking to the Limburger in other parts of the world since it is a more famous and traditional version, but don’t be fooled.
The Liederkranz is an American classic, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find it popping up all around the United States since it has grown more and more popular in the decade that it’s been back on the market. We would stick to the DCI Cheese Company since they own the name and know-how of making it the traditional way, but hey, the cheese-making business is quite fond of little companies. We could be seeing some new versions of this classic soon enough.
What to Look Out for?
The crust that’s formed during ripening is entirely edible as a significant part of the cheese. Through the aging process, it goes through a couple of stages. At one point, it has a Feta like texture that looks nothing like the finished product. But at the two-month mark, we can see the known and loved version, with the yellowish and even orange crust covering the creamy off-white and yellow inside.
If aged incorrectly, the pungent smell can go from a beautiful smelly cheese to an ammonia-like scent that is not something that you want to cut up and enjoy. So our advice is pretty much the same one we would give you for all cheese buying, do your research and know who makes your cheese. That could be the most critical factor here.
Heck of a story, isn’t it? Was this cheese made to replicate a Belgian classic in the promise-land and then it dispersed for twenty-five years? If that doesn’t add an element of mystery and excitement, then the taste sure will.
These are some smelly cheese heavyweights that are sometimes forgotten, but they shouldn’t be!
Stinky cheese should have a special place in our hearts, and the Liederkranz should be considered a classic, even if it has the beginning of a replica cheese.
Get yourself some rye bread, some dark ale beers, and cut up a couple of squares of the stuff. That is what we call an easy way to some cheesy adventures!