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I am a fan of surface ripened cheeses, and in particular Wisconsin-made Limburger. My favorite way to eat it is right at the use-by date on the label. At that point, the surface smells heavily of ammonia, so I cut it off, let the interior mellow for a day or so, then enjoy the creamy stinky goodness.

Out of a 6oz block of cheese, I lose about 2.5 oz this way. I don't like to discard the trimmings, but the ammonia flavor is completely overwhelming. I was thinking about trying to make a cheese spread with the leftovers. My first attempt just used water and sodium citrate along with the cheese. The consistency was good, and the water diluted the ammonia flavor a bit, but it was still too much.

Is there an ingredient I could add that would act to neutralize (or partially neutralize) the smell and taste of ammonia in the cheese spread?

  • But why not to make a spread with a creamy and less or "sweet" tasty cheese? – Alchimista Feb 19 '18 at 14:52
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Try citric acid instead. That should complex the ammonia and take its taste down. Don't use too much or it'll get sour on you.

  • Thank you very much. Do you know if citric acid has the same emulsifying ability as sodium citrate? – Umberto P. Feb 19 '18 at 11:45
  • @UmbertoP. Should. There's plenty of sodium in the cheese. Ammonium citrate probably acts in a similar way. – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 19 '18 at 14:25
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Ammonia, NH3, is a base, and a volatile gas. It can be neutralized by acid, such as citrate, or acetate (vinegar), but that imparts another flavor.

You can boil off the ammonia with a neutral liquid or stock or something you would like the flavor of, like apple cider. This will drive off ammonia, then you can work with the remainder.

Any version of this produces a chemical salt byproduct that has to be dealt with.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I may have to use an outdoor burner. Boiling Limburger cheese in the house might make the place unlivable for a while. – Umberto P. Feb 19 '18 at 11:46

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