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Liederkranz is an American re-creation of Limburger cheese, made subtly different by the use of a different bacterial culture for smear-ripening. Liederkranz is a cow's milk cheese, with an edible pale yellow-orange tan crust, and a semisoft, pale interior with a mildly pungent flavor and distinct aroma that could become unpleasantly ammonia-like if aged incorrectly. Liederkranz was created in 1891 by Emil Frey (1867–1951), a young Swiss cheesemaker in Monroe, New York, who later created Velveeta there in 1923. (Philadelphia Cream Cheese was invented in another town of Orange County, New York.) Frey named the cheese after a local singing society, a Liederkranz Club ("singing circle"), perhaps the famous one in New York, or perhaps really just on a whim for its Germanic sound.
Until the original line went out of production, the cheese was sold in small boxes, with perforations in the sides. The return of the product sees it wrapped in aroma proof foil as shown in the picture on this page. It is very similar in flavor to the French cheese Epoisses.
The Monroe Cheese Company, the original source of Liederkranz, passed to new ownership, but Emil Frey stayed on and followed Liederkranz production to Van Wert, Ohio, in 1926. In 1929, the company was sold to the Borden Company. Frey retired in 1938.
At the end of 1981, after a fire damaged its Van Wert plant, Borden terminated its natural cheese lines in favor of "processed cheese". A few months later the Fisher Cheese Company purchased the Van Wert plant and began to produce Liederkranz. In 1985 bacterial contamination of a batch of Liederkranz and several other cheeses induced Fisher to withdraw Liederkranz from the market, selling the franchise and the bacterial culture to Beatrice Foods (and thus eventually, later Beatrice acquirer ConAgra) and the New Zealand Dairy Board. That was the last batch of Liederkranz to be made for 25 years.
In 2010, the cheese was reintroduced by DCI Cheese Company of Richfield, Washington County, Wisconsin, which had acquired the trademark and the cultures (whose survival had been doubted during Liederkranz's long absence from the market).
- Laura Werlin, The New American Cheese: Profiles of America's Great Cheesemakers
- John Steele Gordon, The Business of America (includes a chapter on the rise and fall of Liederkranz)
- Monroe Cheese Festival website: history of cheesemaking in Monroe
- DCI Cheese Company website
- Liederkranz by Peabody
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