The simple guide to creating the perfect festive cheese platter. 

Cheeseboards are such a British thing. In Medieval times they were used at the end of the meal to soak up all the wine consumed, but these days they’re seen as an alternative to a dessert and are often only produced at Christmas and New Year.

The basic principle of putting a cheeseboard together is to choose a hard cheese, a soft cheese and a blue cheese, but to create a really superior board you need to think further than that.

You may start with a soft cheese like a gooey brie, then add a strong crumbly cheddar and a Danish blue or stilton and that would be fine, but here are a few of our favourites.

 

Cheese

Staffordshire cheese

Staffordshire cheese
Image via Staffordshire Cheese Company

Staffordshire Cheese curds are gently pressed in a muslin cloth lined mould to give a crumbly, semi-hard cheese.

It has a fresh creamy taste with a hint of citrus. A good basic cheese to start your cheeseboard with.

 

Isle of Mull cheddar

Isle of Mull cheddar

Superb handmade unpasteurized cheddar with good full farmhouse flavour and natural texture with some blue veining.

A good old-fashioned country cheddar with a mellow but pleasing flavour.

 

Green thunder

Green thunder

Green Thunder is the perfect balance of complementary but powerful flavours of garlic and herbs in a smooth cheddar.

My favourite cheese at the moment. Very easy to eat with oatcakes.

 

Dunsyre blue

Dunysre blue

Made with unpasteurized Ayrshire cows' milk. Named after a small village near Lanark in the Clyde Valley.

A creamy blue with a bit of a kick, but not too strong or overpowering.

 

 

Pickles

Next you want to want to add some sweetness, spice or a kick of chilli with some pickles and chutneys. I like to put out bowls of pickles onions and pickles baby beets as well as chutney.

A couple of chutneys or pickles and perhaps a little honey too, to go with the blue cheese.

 

Poachers' pickle

poacher's pickle

This tomato, apple and raisin chutney is super rich and fruity.

It works so well with cheese in a sandwich or on a cheeseboard.

 

Caramelised onion chutney

Chutney 
Image via Cornish Food Box

Caramelised onion chutneys can be found at a great price and are rather good with any kind of cheese.

 

Sweet tomato and chilli chutney

sweet tomato and chilli chutney
Image via The Pink Whisk

You can add delicious sweet tomato and chilli chutneys to wraps, sandwiches or just scooped onto a lump of cheese.

 

Pickled onion Charcuteriment

pickled onion charcuteriment
Image via Bawarchi

A gently spiced relish made with crunchy pickled onions, a chilli and mustard.

 

Fruit and salad

As well as cheese and chutney you need to think about fruit or salad. These cut through the creaminess of the cheese and really make a cheeseboard something special. Try added a few of these:

  • Grapes
  • Olives
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Figs
  • Slices of apple (tossed in a little lemon juice to prevent browning)

 

Biscuits

The cheese needs and this is where oatcakes and biscuits come in.

Add bread and you’ve effectively made a ploughman’s lunch. Leave that for a midday snack.

 

Sourdough crispbreads

sourdough crisp breads
Image via Bitter Baker 

Delicate crispbreads are thin, very crisp and you can taste the sourdough flavour.

 

Extra baked rye crispbread

extra baked rye crispbread

Swedish crispbread is a brown baked rye crispbread.

Scandinavians traditionally eat them for breakfast with butter and jam, but they are great with cheese too.

 

Garlic and herb crackers

garlic and herb crackers
Image via Daily Bites

These crumbly crackers are made with a combination of olive oil and grains. They are small batch cooked for the perfect biscuit.

 

Wine

Wine spread

Last but certainly not least is the wine, a very important part of a cheeseboard. Don't let your choices be limited to wine however, why not also consider sherry and port?

Spanish reds work well with mature cheddar. Look for deep fruity flavours for a lovely rich wine. A fresh Cabernet Sauvignon would also work well. 

Sherry is a great option for a cheeseboard. Look for a good age and a rich flavour that's sweet and spicy.

Lots of people love port with cheese because it's smooth and fruity. Watch out though, it's powerful stuff!

Find the perfect cheese boards and utensils in our shop.
 

Jacqueline Meldrum is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Jacqueline blogs at Tinned Tomatoes.

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