One cheese reigns stinkiest of all at Green County’s annual Cheese Days

Limburger cheese appearing at Cheese Days for 100th year in a row
One cheese reigns stinkiest of all at Green County’s annual Cheese Days

As Green County Cheese Days prepares to celebrate their 100th anniversary, one must acknowledge Limburger cheese.

It has been dubbed the “stinkiest cheese” and has a long history with the annual Cheese Days event.

Chalet Cheese Cooperative has made Limburger for 100 years.

Myron Olson, a Master Cheesemaker in Limburger, said Chalet Cheese is the only plant in the United States of America that makes it.

Olson completed rigorous training to become a Master Cheesemaker. Altogether, he said it took 15 years to earn the title.

When asked why he enjoys Limburger Olson replied, “It’s got character to it.”

To build a cheese with “character,” Olson said it starts in the making room. Workers fill a 15,000-pound vat with milk and add bacteria to it.

The cultures will take the sugar in milk. They will reproduce and produce lactic acid. It becomes acidic and rennet is added.

It will sit for 25 minutes and turn into a yogurt consistency, and then it is cut with blades. As workers stir it, the whey separates, leaving kernels of curd.

Those kernels are pumped into forms and flipped three times allowing pressure to push the curd together. It will sit overnight and will be cut in the morning.

The cheese will then go to the curing room, where the smell can be overwhelming. Olson said visitors need three deep breaths before the odor is no longer noticeable.

Limburger will stay in the room for a week. It is placed on wooden boards, salted and washed twice allowing bacteria and the odor to grow.

“As it gets aged to the center it becomes very strong; the odor is increasing on it. The stories you hear about Limburger and how bad it smells are unfortunately true,” said Olson.

Chalet Cheese produces 600,000 pounds of Limburger per year, which is a drop from the days when it made 2 million pounds per year.

Olson explained that Limburger was once a favorite cheese, and attributed the drop in production and popularity to changing tastes as more cheeses became available.

Proud to continue Limburger production, Olson doesn’t plan on slowing down.

“We’ve made Limburger for over 100 years. We’re just going to keep with Limburger.  We’re kind of the granddaddy of the stinky cheese that is the chalet cheese,” said Olson.

Green County Cheese Days will take place in downtown Monroe Sept. 19-21.