Posts tagged cheese
Camping Cheese Boards
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I’ve written before about my love of cheese and charcuterie boards, and talked about laying them out when you have all the fancy accoutrements and comforts of home. When you leave those comforts behind for the woods though, there’s no need to leave the meats and cheese behind too! Whether you’re paddling and trekking into the back country like I was, or driving out to your car camping site, here are some tips for bringing your favourite snack boards camping!

Cheeses

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When refrigeration is less consistent, you want to make sure you can keep your cheeses as fresh as possible! I’ve listed my tips below but you have to commit to a certain level of loss. Best case scenario? All your cheeses will be in great shape and you’ll have food aplenty! But if you open something out there and it looks, smells, or tastes weird? Trust your gut, accept the loss, and dispose of it properly.

Choosing cheeses

Wherever possible, choose hard cheeses. These will last longer and with less refrigeration.

Storage

For hardy cheeses, wrap with cheesecloth! This allows the cheese to breathe and prevents condensation from collecting on the surface and molding.

For riskier cheeses, buy them packaged as much as possible and leave them sealed as long as possible. Anything in its own wax or rind seal is a decent bet - you can find small wheels of Brie sealed in plastic trays that are more airtight than the regularly wrapped ones.

packing

If you’re not carrying a standard cooler, pack your cheeses at the bottom of your food bag or barrel, in a soft sided, insulated cooler bag with an ice pack or another item you need frozen. They won’t stay cold if your trip is longer than a day or two but they’ll stay cool-ER which is usually good enough.

Meats

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Meats are typically one of the easier parts of this equation as many salamis and summer sausages are shelf-stable.

If you do choose to bring something sliced like prosciutto, go with a prepared package that’s already sealed airtight. Store this in your cooler spot with cheese.

Accompaniments

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There are lots of great, shelf-stable accoutrement for your cheese board. I recommend sweets like chocolate covered almonds or berries, a small refillable bottle of honey, and olives packed in a vacuum bag (found at most grocery stores and save the weight of a glass jar). When looking at more sensitive items, choose the heartiest ones possible, or go with something sealed. I like baby carrots and proportioned, sealed hummus containers.

Crackers

If you’re car camping this one is pretty easy but when space is an issue crackers are a challenge. Pita is always a great, durable option. Otherwise I recommend something sturdy like Triscuits, unless you’re willing to pack in the box for protection.

Serving

If some of your items are being kept cool I recommend serving no later than day 3 of your trip. If everything is shelf-stable you can definitely push further!

I assembled my board on two light-weight, bendable cutting boards that I stored down the side of my food bag. I used the small white plastic tray from the Brie to serve my olives.

Assemble your board as quickly and as close to serving as possible, working away from bugs and the hot sun. You’ll have to consume faster than usual but that shouldn’t be an issue given the appetite you’re working up in the outdoors!

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If you want to get extra fancy, make friends with someone willing to pack out chilled white wine in an insulated thermos like Julie from Lavender Julep! It’s the perfect compliment to your afternoon snack.

Crafting a Balanced Charcuterie/Cheese Board

You know what I love more than almost anything else in this world? Snacks. I love snacks as snacks and snacks as meals. To me any party, road trip, or small get together is an excuse for snacks.

I also love carbs, cheeses, and a variety of cured meats. So charcuterie boards and cheese boards are kind of where it’s at for me. These are so easy to put together (it’s literally just a bunch of snacks spread out) but I think it can be kind of daunting if you haven’t done it before. So many thanks to my dear friend Julie over at Lavender Julep for encouraging me to write a post about this spread I put together for my partner’s birthday the other weekend! I mention a lot of brands in this post because I think it’s helpful - it should go without saying that none of them have a clue who the hell I am and none of these are affiliate links.

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

Like I mentioned, this kind of thing is literally just a bunch of snacks spread out. That said, you can put in a little effort to make the flavours balanced and provide something for everyone. It also looks a little fancier if you display it nicely, I’ll talk about what kinds of things I use to serve at the end!

Here’s a breakdown of what I like to include when I put a board together:

  • 3-5 Cheeses
    I like to go for a wide variety here and I base my choices on who’s going to be eating! If there are pickier eaters or young children, I’ll make sure to include more mild cheddars, mozzarella, etc. If it’s close friends who I know like to try new things I might go for interesting choices! It’s also a good idea to go for a mix of soft and hard cheeses!

  • 1-3 Carby Things
    These are things like crackers, bread, pita, etc. They can be a vehicle for cheese or dips or just something else to munch on and provide a different texture.

  • 1-3 Meats
    Traditionally a charcuterie board includes cured meats so I tend toward things like salamis or prosciutto but you can go any direction you’d like here! I usually like to pick a variety of things so that some are spicier, some are more mild, some are more fatty, etc.

  • Accompaniments
    This last category is basically just “everything else.” It can encompass spreads or dips to eat on the cheese, meat, or bread but it can also include other little bites that have complementary flavours. It’s nice to have a few sweet things and a few savoury things!

Here’s a breakdown of this weekend’s board:

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  1. Rolled, half-slices of prosciutto. I picked this up fresh from the deli counter.

  2. Mild salami encased in Parmesan. I dig this for something different but accessible. (Full disclosure: I stole this idea from a friend after he used it on a board a week earlier.)

  3. Spicy Calabrese salami. Again, this is fresh from the deli counter.

  4. Herb Havarti. Cheeses like this tend to be tricky to cut so I pre-sliced it!

  5. Herb & Garlic Boursin. This soft, spreadable cheese is inevitably the most popular thing on any cheese board I’ve ever made.

  6. Snowdonia Cheese Company’s Smoked Cheddar. This is literally my favourite cheese of all time, it tastes like bacon (but is totally vegetarian!). It slices and crumbles well so I leave a sharp cheese knife next to it and let people serve themselves - a steak knife would work too.

  7. Medium Cheddar. Much like the havarti, I pre-sliced this so people could just grab and go. I wasn’t sure the tastes of everyone coming so adding this to the board made it so everyone could find something they liked.

  8. Castello Blue Cheese. This is soft and crumbly so I usually just leave a spreader next to it for cutting/scooping!

  9. Red seedless grapes. These go great with everything and are great for filling space on your boards.

  10. Dried apricots. Dried fruit goes great with cheese, I normally just pick up as much as I need from the bulk section. Dried cranberries and blueberries are also excellent.

  11. Mini dill pickles (or “cornichons”. The acidity of a pickle is a perfect contrast to a sharp smoked or creamy cheese. Also literally everyone loves pickles. I’d also use olives here!

  12. Trader Joe’s Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. Yes, it’s a mouthful. Yes, they’re delicious. I buy a few containers of these every time I go across the border and then I try really hard not to eat them all before I make a cheese board.

  13. Artichoke and Asiago Dip. I just picked this up at the grocery store because I love it with the pita chips!

  14. Honey! I love pairing honey with blue cheese, I think the flavours complement each other so well. Plus it’s probably already in your pantry!

  15. Stacy’s Pita chips. I’m obsessed with these and they go awesome with everything, especially artichoke dip and Boursin.

  16. R.W. Garcia 3 Seed Sweet Potato crackers. These are from Costco and they’re awesome with cheese. The chickpea variety is really good as well!

  17. Sliced baguette. This was the perfect vehicle for blue cheese & honey. Or making tiny salami and cheese sandwiches. There’s no wrong answer here.

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You can make a cheese or charcuterie board on literally anything but it’s slightly easier (and prettier) if you have a couple basics.

  • The board. I usually use this gorgeous charcuterie board from Concept Thirteen Woodworking. The smaller one in the photo at the top is my partner’s and is from M Inspired Living. Sometimes I also use my wood cutting board from Planet Creations. These are all Canadian businesses with incredible workmanship and I can’t recommend them highly enough. No board? No problem - use any cutting board, large plate, serving tray, or just cover your table in kraft paper and go to town.

  • Cheese knives. I wish I could say I supported small businesses with these too but I’m not going to lie I bought them on clearance at Winners. Marshalls and Home Sense also usually have a lot for reasonable prices. Honestly though, butter knives and steak knives for the harder cheeses work totally fine.

  • Small dishes. Perfect for little tiny quantities of things. The red bowls came from the grocery store and the tiny glass ones are re-purposed tiramisu containers from Costco. The grapes are in a gorgeous little piece of pottery from my grandma. Thrift stores are great for stuff like this but so is just shopping your own house. Low ball glasses can work great.

  • Serving plates. I find long serving plates helpful for crackers and bread but again you can obviously use anything. The ones I used for this board were a gift from my sister but thrift stores are another good option here!

I hope this was helpful and didn’t make you too hungry! I personally need to go eat a bunch of cheese immediately.

Mel