Cheese plates are one of the easiest, yet most elegant (and delicious), ways to delight your family and friends, and they are a tried-and-true staple for hosting a social event. I developed a Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart for the MN Cheese Festival a while back which highlighted some of the most popular cheese and jam pairings of different preserves with various cheeses, crackers and charcuterie. In this post you will find a range of ideas for making your own cheese plate for the holidays or any celebration. The great thing about cheese plates is that they are flexible enough to please every taste, diet and occasion.
What to Look For When Arranging a Cheese and Jam Pairings Board
The world of cheese and jam pairings offers a wide range of taste and texture options on their own. You may want to take it a step further however, and enhance your cheese board with other complementary food items.
Look for products with unique or surprising flavors that will give you a balance of sweetness, tartness, and acidity. Also consider texture (i.e., crunchy crackers with creamy cheese and whole-fruit jams).
The visual display is important. A wood or slate cheese board becomes a true thing of beauty when you arrange it with pale yellow cheeses, jewel-toned jams, and fresh crispy green micro-greens.
And finally, think about convenience, especially during the busy holidays. Some of the condiments come in jars that are attractive enough to plop right on your cheese board next to its intended cheese partner.
Here are some ideas that can add variety in taste, texture and convenience. And the great thing about cheese plates is people with different tastes and/or diets can pick and choose what suits them. It’s nice to have everyone happy during the holidays!
Cheese Plate Enhancement Ideas:
- honey in small jars
- carmelized onions
- fresh herbs (micro greens are fun)
- cornichons (those little pickles);
- salty meats (like salami, pepperoni, other deli meats);
- crackers (seeded and not seeded)
- sturdy robust breads
- mustards (try our smoked tomato mustard for a real treat!)
Wine and cheese pairings are a subject unto their own, and there are many resources to help you with that end of things. Just google cheese and wine pairings and you will quickly be overwhelmed by information.
A Cheese and Jam Pairing Chart (featuring HeathGlen jams):
Here is a chart with some ideas of great (and tested) cheese and jam pairings. If any of these pairings look good to you, check out our Cheese Pairing Gift Box available online year-round.
It was really fun putting this cheese and jam pairing array together because I got to try so many scrumptious combinations. My husband walked in the kitchen towards the end of the photo taking and, while the place was a huge mess, the array of textures and colors and smells was quite compelling to him.
He surprisingly said, “that is some good looking food”, and proceeded to gobble up the leftovers. The husband is a fairly taciturn type of guy, so hearing these words expressed so strongly was quite a surprise. I think it was a nod to the power of the visual. So many colors and textures!
Hopefully these Cheese and Jam Pairings will be useful to you in putting together cheese plates for any celebration or event. If you are interested in any of the specific jams I list, they can be found here at my online store.