Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Rebirth of Liederkranz

Following a 25-year hiatus, a Wisconsin-based cheese distribution company announced today it will reintroduce the one and only Liederkranz, an American replication of Germany's Limburger cheese, first made famous by a New York cheesemaker in the 1800s.

DCI Cheese in Richfield will partner with Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe (the only cheese plant left in the country making Limburger) to make Liederkranz (pronounced “LEE-duhr-krahntz”), an American-made, surface-ripened stinky snack cheese. It should be available for purchase by month's end in specialty stores across the Midwest.

Liederkranz is an American replication of Germany’s Limburger cheese, made subtly different by the use of a distinct bacterial culture for ripening. It has the same texture and unique aroma as Limburger, but features a distinctively robust and buttery flavor. Similar to Limburger, it's made in small, rectangular blocks and has a moist, edible, golden yellow crust with a pale ivory interior and a heavy, honey-like consistency.

The marketing gurus at DCI say Liederkranz is particularly well complemented by dark bread and dark beer and can be used as an appetizer, on salads or sandwiches, or with fruits. As the cheese matures, the crust turns golden brown and the cheese a deeper color. Both flavor and aroma become much stronger.

Liederkranz has a long and colorful history. It was created in the late 1800s by Emil Frey, an apprentice cheesemaker at the Monroe Cheese Company in Monroe, New York. The owner, Adolphe Tode, also ran a successful New York delicatessen. At the time there was a heavy wave of German immigrants and Tode received many requests from them for Bismarck Schlossk√§se, a traditional soft, smelly cheese. Due to inadequate refrigeration, much of this delicate cheese spoiled in transit. To meet the demand, Tode challenged his company’s cheesemakers to duplicate the popular German cheese. After years of experimentation, Frey stumbled upon a spreadable, Limburger-style product.

The first samples of this new cheese were taken to the famous New York City singing society, the Liederkranz Club, whose members were patrons of Tode’s deli. When they pronounced it wonderful, the cheese was named “Liederkranz” in their honor. Translated from German, the name means "wreath of song" (which is I guess, a good thing??)

After a series of ownership changes, production was moved to Van Wert, Ohio, in 1926. This aided the cheese’s distribution, bringing it closer to its biggest purchasers: the Midwest’s heavily Germanic population. Liederkranz was last manufactured in Ohio, but disappeared from the market in 1985, no doubt losing its dwindling market share to its cousin, Limburger.

In good news, with the rebirth of stinky cheese connoisseurs in the United States, DCI Cheese has apparently decided now is the time to reintroduce this infamous cheese, which I think is great. Stinky cheese is back, baby.

3 comments:

s_neuburg87 said...

Just bought some yesturday...have almost the whole 6oz block gone already...I never thought I would like this cheese. I can't stand limburger, but find this to be delightful! It reminds me of a French washed rind cheese. If you let it sit out at room temp for about 10 minutes it gets a really wonderful consistancy close to that of a brie. Have always heard my Dad talk about this cheese( he also loves limburger), and now I am so happy that it is available again!

buttonstc said...

Do you know of any resources where I could make inquiries as to where I could find Liederkranz in the Detroit Metro area of Michigan ?

I was so happy to read about it's return. I love this and have fond HS and college memories of lunchtime sandwiches and the puzzled looks of my friends when they got a whiff of it. I still remember the small wooden Borden's boxes in which it was packaged. I love this stuff.

All these years nothing has ever come close. Gorgonzola Dolce satisfies my stinky cheese cravings to a certain extent, but it's not exactly easy to come by either. I can't wait to find me some genuine Liederkranz again after all these years.

Wisconsin is too long a drive from Michigan, so I hope it arrives here soon.

Laura Irwin said...

I bought some of this cheese at a local store and was pretty disappointed in it. It had a very bitter taste, and I ended up pitching it, much to my chagrin. I grew up loving this cheese, and was thrilled with the thought it was back. I have found Rougette Bavarian Red Rind Washed cheese is very close in texture and flavor to original Liederkranz.