The world of cheese is vast and as much as I love it, I know there’s no chance I’ll have the opportunity to try all of them.
Until recently, I assumed I’d already had my fair share of Brick cheese since, like most people, I assumed that’s what any old block of cheese was called.
What I didn’t realize was the stuff I ate they slapped some orange food color to imitate the rind and labeled as Brick cheese wasn’t even close to the real thing.
Maybe you’re a lot like me and you thought you’ve been eating authentic Brick cheese as well.
If so, you’re also probably wondering that if that stuff isn’t authentic, then what is brick cheese, anyway?
Brick cheese is an American made, semi-soft, yellow (or white) cheese that is derived from White Cheddar Cheese and manufactured in rectangular shaped or “bricks”. While mild when young, the flavor of Brick cheese will sharpen with age.
Table of Contents
The Origin of Brick Cheese
Not only is Brick cheese a unique, one-of-a-kind cheese but like many American inventions, the creator sought to improve an existing product, which in this case was Limburger cheese.
As with many types of cheese created in the United States, Brick cheese shares was first created in Wisconsin.
After emigrating from Switzerland to New York (the Wisconsin) in 1857 at the age of 12, a young (14!) year old named John Jossi was soon in charge of running a Limburger cheese factory in a town called Richwood.
Sixteen years later, and now married, Jossi moved back to New York, where his experience as a cheese maker began to pay dividends. Jossi experimented with the traditional formula for Limburger, making it milder and deepening the flavor.
During this period, he also experimented with a method for producing his new cheese by using bricks to form it. This pressing approach had the effect of shaping the cheese into a rectangular shape and “brick cheese” was born.
Some years later, he returned to Wisconsin once again to produce Brick cheese exclusively. During this time, he shared his recipe with other cheese makers in the region and it wasn’t long before the popularity of the cheese began to really take off.
Prior to his death in 1902, his factory was sold to Kraft and even though the plant might be long gone, Brick cheese lives on to this day.
What Is Brick Cheese Made Of?
Brick cheese was created as a derivative of White American Cheddar but the culturing process that’s used results in a higher fat cheese with a mild taste. As Brick cheese ages, the taste of the cheese begins to sharpen, becoming more tangy and pungent.
What Is Brick Cheese Used For?
A better question might be, what isn’t it used for?
Brick cheese’s mild flavor when young and slightly stronger flavor as it ages, makes it a perfect option for a wide variety of uses.
It slices easily and can be melted on sandwiches like grilled cheese, chicken melts and cheesesteaks. Other popular choices include mac and cheese, cheese-based soups, and breakfast foods like omelettes. And of course, you can use it on everyone’s favorite – pizza!
In fact, it’s possible that Brick cheese’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s featured in a famous style of pizza, known as Detroit-Style.
Detroit-Style pizza was invented over 75 years ago at Buddy’s Rendezvous Pizzeria on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan.
It was the first pizza made in a square-shape but aside from its unique shape, what makes it special is that it features a very special crumbly Brick cheese, especially made for the restaurant.
Last, authentic Brick cheese isn’t always the easiest thing to come by so if you’re in a pinch, some good substitutions for it include cheeses like Mozzarella, Cheddar and others.
Do They Still Make Brick Cheese?
In fact, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin have a page on their site where they list all the Brick cheese makers in the state. If you’re interested in doing a deeper dive, they also have a searchable database that you can use as well.
List of All Brick Cheese Makers in Wisconsin – https://www.wisconsincheese.com/find-cheese/ch/8/brick
Searchable Database of Brick Cheese Makers in Wisconsin – https://www.wisconsincheese.com/cheese-offerings-search/