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