Cheese plates are one of the most popular approaches to entertaining, primarily because they are easy to put together and easy to please a number of different palates. The drawbacks are expense and the sugar content of many of the pairings (like jams, honey, candied nuts, etc.). Chutneys can stand in for the jam pairings and will give a low carb cheese plate the flavor contrasts missing when you exclude sweet offerings like jam.
How to Modify Typical Cheese Plates to Low Carb
The star ingredients of most cheese plates or charcuterie plates are, of course, the cheeses and meats. Most meats and cheeses are inherently low carb, so it is really the pairing accompaniments that take cheese plates/charcuterie plates out of low carb status.
Here are some ideas for getting to low carb without a loss of flavor or texture:
- Accompaniments that add acid to some of the soft cheeses is one way to enhance flavor without sugar. This would include things like olives, pickles, and mustards.
- Accompaniments that add crunch to the creamy texture of cheeses are a low carb way of enhancing texture. This would include ingredients such as nuts or crudites (crispy vegetables like carrots or jicama). Just avoid the carmelized pecans or nuts as they are coated with a lot of sugar.
- Some cheeses exhibit their highest flavor profile the addition of a sweet spread however. Chutneys can fill in for the sweet spreads in order to add a little sweetness without the high degree of sugar.
Chutneys vs Jams
Jams and jellies typically include a good amount of added sugar in order to get a spreadable consistency rather than just a fruit syrup. The only way to make a really tasty jam or jelly without a lot of sugar is to make a freezer jam, rather than a sealed, shelf stable jam.
Making jam is both an art and a science. The “science” of getting a jam to a spreadable consistency is around getting the ratios of pectin, sugar and acid correct, and this usually involves adding quite a bit of sugar.
The “art” of jam-making is knowing your fruit and how much acid is in your fruit and which flavorings pair best with specific fruits.
Chutneys do not “gel” and are therefore much more forgiving. Since chutneys do include fruit, they will of course have the fructose sugar that is in the fruit.
Fructose is sugar even if it is in whole fruits, but fruit also contains fiber and nutrients which refined sugar does not. Fiber can be a mitigating factor in the amount of sugar and carbs that is processed in your body.
If you choose chutneys, just read the labels. Some have quite a bit of sugar and some do not.
For the cheese plate above I used two of our chutneys, a red pepper & green apple chutney and a plum chutney. Explore the world of chutneys online or at the grocery store when putting together your low carb cheese plates!
Click here to get a detailed guidelines on building a cheese board or a charcuterie board.
How to Store or Freeze Cheese
Cheese can be one of the more expensive items on a cheese plate and if you or your guests don’t finish it all (yes, it happens sometimes), then you want to make sure and store your wonderful cheeses in a way that they will preserve the texture and flavor.
First of all, do not wrap in plastic wrap (unless freezing). This locks in too much moisture and they will mold and the texture will change.
What the cheesemongers say is best to do is wrap the cheese in parchment paper or wax paper and then loosely wrap that bundle in aluminum foil. The idea is to allow the cheese to breathe but not dry out.
According to these same cheesemongers, there are actually some cheeses that will freeze well, even though popular guidelines say it is not possible.
Some of the softer cheeses like Camembert or some goat cheeses can be frozen for a couple of months without losing flavor or texture. In this case you “do” want to wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then place in a ziplock freezer bag.
Hard or semi-hard cheeses like cheddar do not freeze well however. The texture breaks down and you get a crumbly or crystalized cheese.
Video Tutorial on a Low Carb Cheese Plate Paired with Chutneys
That’s all for now. Check out the cheese board guidelines if you want detailed information on building cheeseboards.
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