Selecting Cheese for your Cheese Board
The wide variety of farmhouse cheese available means that there is one to suit every palate. Here are a couple of points to consider when making the selection for your cheese board.
- - Avoid too much choice. It’s better to have a couple of good size pieces of cheese than a lot of smaller bits. It looks better and the cheese will keep better. Try to limit your selection to no more than five different cheeses.
- - Select your cheeses so that you have different sizes, shapes, flavours and textures. For example, you could have a mix of soft, blue, hard, and washed-rind.
- - Ensure you include cheeses made from goats and ewes milk as well as cows.
- - If possible, try each cheese before you buy.
- - A good rule of thumb is approx. 100g of cheese per person (total amount e.g. if you had four cheeses, it would be 25g of each).
- - To get a better idea of cheese maturity, squeezing the cheese is quite useful particularly for soft or semi-soft cheeses. The softer the cheese, the more ripe it is.
- - Place your cheeses in order of strength on the board – try not to have strong pungent cheeses beside delicately flavoured cheeses.
- - Leave the cheese at room temperature for approximately 2-3 hours before serving. Bringing cheese to room temperature ensures you get fuller flavours.
Serving your Cheese
- - Remember to allow cheeses come to room temperature before serving
- - In terms of presentation, try serving cheeses on slate, marble, wooden board, or straw mat.
- - Serve with bread or cheese crackers leaving room beside each cheese for your guests to slice. Apples, pears, or grapes make a nice addition along with honey, jellies, chutney or quince.
- - Cheeseboards are a great centerpiece and talking point. Remember to keep the wrappers (or make note of the names) so you can read up on your cheese before your guests arrive.
- - Our European neighbours serve cheese after the main course and before dessert. It’s a personal choice really.
- - When you’re done entertaining and if you have farmhouse cheese leftovers, ensure you wrap all cheeses well after use.
- - Wax paper or foil are the best options as opposed to clingwrap. Too often we leave our cheese in clingwrap which suffocates cheese – remember, cheese is a living food! Wrapping cheese also helps retain moisture and stops them from drying out.
- - If the cheese is on the pungent side, why not store the wrapped cheese in a tuberware box in your fridge.
- - Ensure you keep your cheese in the warmest part of the refrigerator.
- - In terms of freezing cheese, this really only works with hard cheese. Defrost at room temperature. You may find that the defrosted cheese has lost some of its texture and may be more crumbly so perhaps use as an ingredient in cooking.
Cooking ideas for leftover cheese:
- - Grate over pasta
- - Melt down for a pasta sauce – we love melting down washed rind cheeses and pouring over pasta with chorizo
- - Mix into risotto or salad
- - Grate into scrambled eggs
- - Keep the rinds for soups or stews (don’t forget to take out before serving!)
- - Cheese fondue – a great way to use up a couple of cheeses with some white wine, lemon juice and a little spice. Serve with crusty bread.
- - Toasted cheese sandwiches
- - Cheesey baked potatoes
- - Stuff into chicken breasts or meat balls
- - Melt over burgers or steak
- - Add to veggies like Cauliflower Cheese
Remember to buy little and often so you don’t get too much leftover and you get to enjoy the cheese at its optimum time!