Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One Bite: handcheese

Posted By on 02.29.12 at 04:07 PM

Landsberg handkase
In English the name sounds like a digital fungal infection but handkase (aka handcheese) is a general term for a family of semi-translucent, jellylike sour-milk-curdled German cheeses (among them Harzer, Mainzer, Olmuzter Quargel) native to Lower Saxony and Hessen. Though the name derives from its traditional hands-on production—quark formed into cylinders and allowed to ripen—you can imagine it comes instead from its limburgerlike power of transferring its pungent and persistent odor to the fingers.

What's most remarkable about this yellow skim-milk curiosity (besides its opaque jiggliness) is its extremely low fat content (1 percent) and absence of animal rennet. Milder in flavor than it is in funk, you'll still notice a similarity to limburger. It's frequently flavored with caraway seeds, and some claim to drink it melted in beer steins, but the most common preparation is handkase mit muzik, marinated in oil, vinegar, and onions. The music allegedly plays during digestion.

It's $4.99 for a seven-ounce package of Landsberg Hankase at Gene's Sausage Shop, 4750 N. Lincoln, 773-728-7243.

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