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Limburger cheese
Country of originThe Low Countries and Germany
Source of milkCow
Aging time2–3 months
Related media on Commons
Other namesFromage de Herve
Country of originBelgium
RegionPays de Herve
Source of milkCow
Fat content45%
Weight50, 100, 200, or 400 g
Aging time3 weeks to 2 months[1]
Related media on Commons

Limburger (in southern Dutch contexts Rommedoe, and in Belgium Herve cheese) is a cheese that originated in the Herve area of the historical Duchy of Limburg, which had its capital in Limbourg-sur-Vesdre, now in the French-speaking Belgian province of Liège. The cheese is especially known for its strong smell caused by the bacterium Brevibacterium linens.[3]

Herve has been produced since the 15th century.

History and geographic origins[edit]

The Herve name has become the modern European protected name for the cheese, while the Limburger name is used for the same style when made in other regions. Herve cheese, or "Fromage de Herve", is still produced in the territory of the old Duchy of Limburg, in Belgium, where it has been produced since the 15th century.[4] Herve is located near Liège, and the borders separating Belgium from the Netherlands and Germany. The "Land of Herve" is a hilly area between the Vesdre and Meuse rivers. The duchy existed until the French Revolution as a part of the Holy Roman Empire, and the cheese style became popular in other areas, known by the name of its country of origin.

In the US, it was first produced by the F.X. Baumert cheese factory in Antwerp, New York, in 1854.[5] It was also produced in 1867 by Rudolph Benkerts in his cellar from pasteurized goat's milk.[6] A few years later, 25 factories produced this cheese. It is also manufactured in Canada, where it is a German-Canadian cultural marker, by the Oak Grove Cheese Company in New Hamburg, Ontario. Today, the only limburger producer in the United States is Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wisconsin.


Herve is a Belgian rind washed soft cheese made from raw cow's milk. The aging process takes place in ripening cellars of the Herve countryside, sometimes cut into its chalky rock.

It is sometimes flavored with herbs. Herve has a pale yellow interior with a glossy reddish-brown coating created by the bacteria that grow during its 3-month aging. It is usually shaped into a brick when sold. The taste and flavor of the cheese deepens during the period of ripening. When young, the interior is sweet, and with age it becomes spicy.


In its first month, the cheese is firmer and more crumbly, similar to the texture of feta cheese. After about six weeks, the cheese becomes softer along the edges but is still firm on the inside and can be described as salty and chalky. After two months it is mostly creamy and much smoother. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because of the bacterium used to ferment Limburger cheese and many other smear-ripened cheeses.[7] This is Brevibacterium linens, the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for body odor (particularly foot odor).[3]


A half-pound (226-gram) package of Limburger

It was often regarded as one of the most popular cheeses in Belgium.

One way to serve Limburger is the Limburger sandwich. After three months, when the cheese has ripened, it becomes spreadable. The cheese is often spread thick (more than 0.5 cm or 0.2 inch) on firm-textured 100% rye bread, with a large, thick slice of onion, and is typically served with strong black coffee or lager beer. Alternatively, chunks or slices of the cheese up to 1.5 cm (0.6 inch) thick can be cut off the block and placed in the sandwich.

This sandwich remains very popular among the descendants of Swiss and German immigrants in the Midwestern United States, in places including Wisconsin and Ohio. In the early 20th century, Limburger sandwiches became a popular lunch for working people due to their affordability and nutritious qualities. They were frequently accompanied by a glass of beer.[8]

In Wisconsin, the Limburger sandwich can be found on menus at certain restaurants, accompanied by brown mustard.[9] There are several variations, such as the addition of bologna,[10] lettuce, tomato, roasted walnuts, and the use of white or French bread.[11] Sometimes the rind of the cheese is rinsed or removed to weaken its odor.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Limburger and its characteristic odor are a frequent butt of jokes. Reactions to, and misinterpretations of, the smell of Limburger cheese were gags used in numerous Looney Tunes, Little Rascals, and Three Stooges comedy shorts as well as in the 1942 Abbott and Costello film Who Done It?[13] The arch-enemy of the Biker Mice from Mars has the name Lawrence Limburger, complete with terrible body odor.

The smell of the cheese is referenced in the B-52's 1979 single "Dance This Mess Around", with the lyric "why don't you dance with me? I'm not no Limburger" suggesting that the singer feels she is unable to get a dancing partner due to perceived body odor.

In the Disney Channel Original Movie Don't Look Under the Bed, Larry is making "Boogey Goo" which is said to smell terrible. He lists Limburger cheese as one of the ingredients.

A study showing that the malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) is attracted equally to the smell of Limburger and to the smell of human feet earned the Ig Nobel Prize in 2006 in the area of biology.[14][15] The results of the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet on 9 November 1996. As a direct result of these findings, traps baited with this cheese have been placed in strategic locations in some parts of Africa to combat the epidemic of malaria.[16]

Limburger is one of the cheeses mentioned in the Cheese Shop sketch, that appears in the “Salad Days” episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, where Mr Wensleydale (Michael Palin) the proprietor of the cheese shop suggests Limburger to John Cleese’s character.

Nutrition facts[edit]

100 g of Limburger contains:[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fromage de Herve" (in French). Official web site. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Fromage de Herve". DOOR. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Crump, Marty (2009). Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers: & Other Unusual Relationships. University of Chicago Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780226121871.
  4. ^ Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 Application for Registration: Art. 17 National file No 93/2 [1] Archived 4 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ New York Produce Review and American Creamery, 1904. Volume 18, p. 147
  6. ^ "Limburger Cheese, History of Limburger Cheese, Limburger Cheese Sandwich Recipem How To Make A Limburger Sandwich". Whatscookingamerica.net. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  7. ^ Fox, Patrick. Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. p. 200.
  8. ^ O'Neill, Helen (8 May 2013). "Charming Wisconsin town not shy about celebrating Limburger, world's stinkiest cheese". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Welcome to the Cheesetique April Newsletter". April 2006. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  10. ^ Fuller, Eva Greene (1909). The Up-to-date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich Archived 16 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine. A. C. McClurg & Company. p. 107.
  11. ^ Madison, Deborah (2010).Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone Archived 3 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine. Random House Digital, Inc. p. (unlisted). ISBN 0307885763
  12. ^ Allen, T. (2003). Wisconsin's Hometown Flavors: A Cook's Tour of Butcher Shops, Bakeries, Cheese Factories, and Other Specialty Markets Archived 6 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine. Big Earth Publishing. pp. 19-20. ISBN 1931599203
  13. ^ Who Done It?
  14. ^ "Ig Nobel Prize list of past winners". Improbable.com. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  15. ^ Knols BG (November 1996). "On human odour, malaria mosquitoes, and Limburger". Lancet. 348 (9037): 1322. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)65812-6. PMID 8909415. S2CID 12571262.
  16. ^ Knols, Brad; De Jong, Ruurd (April 1996). "Limburger cheese as an attractant for the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s.". Parasitology Today. 12 (4): 159–161. doi:10.1016/0169-4758(96)10002-8. PMID 15275226.
  17. ^ "Nutrition Facts and Information for Cheese, limburger". Nutritiondata.self.com. Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.

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