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German Cheese Varieties

Updated on June 21, 2013

Cambozola Cheese

Cambozola is a cow's milk cheese that is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. It was patented and industrially produced for the world market by large German company Champignon in the 1970s. The cheese was invented circa 1900 and is still produced by Champignon. In English-speaking countries, Cambozola is often marketed as blue brie.

The cheese's name appears to be a portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola, given that its flavor profile combines the moist, rich creaminess of Camembert with the sharpness of blue Gorgonzola. It also refers to the Roman name Cambodunum of the city Kempten, where Champignon is located.

Harzer Cheese

Harzer cheese is a German sour milk cheese made from low fat curd cheese, which contains only about one percent fat and originates in the Harz mountain region south of Braunschweig.

Harzer is often small and round, in which case it is called Handkäse or Taler, or cylindrical, in which case it is called Stangenkäse. Frequently, the small and round variety is sold in a cylindrical package, which is then called Harzer Roller.

Harzer cheese is typically flavored with caraway. Some varieties are white mold cheeses, others red mold cheeses. The latter type generally has a stronger flavour, and both types develop a strong aroma after maturing for a few days or weeks. Harzer has a distinctive strong smell and overpowering flavor.

Handkase mit Musik
Handkase mit Musik

Handkäse (Hand Cheese)

It is a German regional sour milk cheese (similar to Harzer) and is a culinary speciality of Frankfurt and Offenbach am Main. It gets its name from the former way of producing it: forming it with your own hands.

It is a small, translucent, yellow cheese with a pungent aroma that many people find unpleasant. It is sometimes square, but more often round in shape.

Often served as an appetizer or as a snack with Apfelwein (aka Ebbelwoi), it is traditionally topped with chopped onions, locally known as "Handkäse mit Musik" (literally: hand cheese with music) — so called because of the sound of the resulting flatulence brought on by the onions.

It is usually eaten with caraway on it (as seen in the first picture). Since many people in Germany do not like this spice, in a lot of areas it is served on the side. Some Hessians say that it is a sign of the quality of the establishment when you get your caraway in a separate dispenser. As a sign of this, in many restaurants you will find, in addition to the salt and pepper, a little pot for caraway seeds. Hessians delight in introducing foreigners to this delicacy and explaining the name's provenance.

An alternative theory of explaining "Musik" is that the vinegar and oil flasks were formerly given separately to the guests, and that when they hit each other, they made that sound.

Hirtenkäse (Herder's Cheese)

It is a distinctive cow's milk cheese made in the Allgäu area of Southern Germany.This cheese is golden and Buttery yellow in color. Its texture and taste are rustic, savory and firm textured with a rugged, earthy aroma. It has been compared to other hard cheeses of Europe.

In texture and flavor, the 14-pound cheese resembles a cross between Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Gouda, with a firm golden interior and aromas of butterscotch and orange peel. ... Even at eight months, the cheese has developed some of the crunchy protein crystals found in Parmigiano-Reggiano. But additional aging makes the cheese creamier, not harder and dryer. It has a waxy texture - it even smells waxy - but it isn't crumbly like Parmigiano-Reggiano or firm enough to grate. The flavor is concentrated, with the cooked-milk sweetness of a caramel.

Limburger cheese

Limburger is a cheese that originated in the historical Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided among modern-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The cheese, which is especially known for its pungent odor, was first made in the 19th century.

In its first month, the cheese is more firm and 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 of its life, it is mostly creamy and much smoother. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because the bacterium used to ferment Limburger Cheese and other rind-washed cheeses is Brevibacterium linens, the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for body odor.

Milbenkäse Cheese

Today it is produced exclusively in the village of Würchwitz, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt; historically it was known in the Saxony-Anhalt/Thuringia border region of Zeitz and Altenburg districts. 

Milbenkäse is reputed to be beneficial for digestion; there are also claims that it can ease House dust mite allergies. This has not been studied yet (mainly due to the novelty of the cheese and the paucity of data), though it is plausible - house dust mites and cheese mites being both members of the order Astigmata of sarcoptiform mites, they are probably not too distantly related immunologically to induce oral tolerance when consumed, and therefore alleviate hypersensitivity.

Also, prolonged exposure to large quantities of cheese mites (as well as to the closely related flour mite, Acarus siro) occasionally causes a mild allergic reaction, the skin irritation known as "grocer's itch" or "baker's itch", showing that these species produce significant allergens too, though weaker ones than those of house dust mites as it seems.

Rauchkäse Cheese

Rauchkase is a German variety of smoked cheese, known for being semi-soft with a smoky brown rind. The most famous variety is Bruder Basil, named for dairy entrepreneur Basil Weixler, whose dairy company is still in operation today.

Tilsit cheese

Tilsit cheese or Tilsiter cheese is a light yellow semi-hard cheese, created in the mid-19th century by Prussian-Swiss settlers, the Westphal family, from the Emmental valley. The original buildings from the cheese plant still exist in Sovetsk, Russia, formerly Tilsit on the Neman River in East Prussia.

The same ingredients to make the cheese were not available as in their home country and the cheese became colonized by different molds, yeasts, and bacteria in the humid climate. The result was a cheese that was more intense and full flavored. The settlers named the cheese after Tilsit, the Prussian town they settled at.

Tilsiter has a medium-firm texture with irregular holes or cracks. Commercially produced Tilsiter is made from pasteurized cow's milk, ranges from 30 to 60 percent milk fat[2] and has a dark yellow rind. Often flavoured with caraway seed and peppercorns, Tilsiter is a complement to hearty brown/rye breads and dark beers. It is a common table cheese, yet versatile. Tilsit can be eaten cubed in salads, melted in sauces, on potatoes, flans, or burgers.

Using the re-imported recipe, Tilsiter has been manufactured in Switzerland since 1893. Swiss Tilsiter is mainly produced in 3 varieties. A mild version (green label) is made from pasteurized milk, a more strongly flavored one from fresh, unpasteurized milk (red label), and the yellow-labeled "Rahm-Tilsiter" is produced from pasteurized milk with added cream.

Weisslacker (Beer Cheese)

is a type of cheese that originated in Germany, but is now known worldwide. Also produced in America, mostly in Wisconsin, it is a pungent and salted cheese. It ripens for seven months in highly humid conditions and is related to Limburger cheese. Connoisseurs of this delicacy often take it with beer (sometimes dipping the cheese directly in their drinks), hence the name. Many find it too overpowering to serve with wine. This cheese is also served on small slices of rye or pumpernickel bread often with some sliced onion.

It is a common item on pub and restaurant menus in the Czech Republic, the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption in the world. Weisslacker is also known as bierkäse, bierkaese, beer kaese and beer cheese. This cow's milk cheese is a common ingredient in various breads, soups, and dips.


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      LI Food Guy 

      7 years ago

      Very informative read. At least until i got to EpowerGuy's comment. A cheese and honey website? Whatever psycho

    • EpowerGuy profile image


      8 years ago from Benicia, CA

      I'm trying to figure out how to link Hubs in a way to build a collective of cheese and honey sites. I'm writing about and developing a worldwide project on Green Gold: Pairing Honeys & Cheeses, which seeks to find the hidden gems of small production sellers of both products and helps allow them to be sold to the world.


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