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Tips for Building a Simple Charcuterie Board 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Eating out on Valentine’s Day may not be the safest option so surprise your special someone by curating a charcuterie board for them.

A charcuterie board is a display of cheeses, meats, and crackers with a mix of fruits, spreads, nuts, and other delicious foods mixed in. Charcuterie boards are a presentation of a variety of textures and flavors and have gained popularity for their beauty and their extravagant appeal. Charcuterie boards can seem very intimidating but with these tips, it will be simple.

3-4 Cheeses. Let’s start with my favorite part, the cheese. There are four basic cheese groups to choose from: hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, and soft. When choosing cheeses, pick one from each category. An example of hard cheese are asiago and parmesan. A semi-hard cheese would be a cheddar or Manchego. Some semi-soft cheeses are gouda and blue cheese. Lastly, a soft cheese is goat cheese and brie.  

2-3 Meats. Choosing two or three cold cured meats. Choose something you know you and your partner will enjoy. An easy way to decide; pick a variety pack of cured meats.

2-3 Crackers. Crackers are used as a vehicle to get the delicious flavors from your board to your mouth. An easy cheat for picking crackers is to get a variety pack. When deciding on a variety pick one that has a plain, a multi-grain, and a flavorful option.

Colorful fruits. Fruits are a way to bring color to your board. Choosing one dried fruit like an apricot or fig and one or two fresh fruits in a variety of colors. Berries, apples, and grapes are all great options.

Salty and sweet spreads. Keep it simple with one sweet spread like a jam and one salty spread like a course mustard. When I choose parmesan cheese, I like to have a balsamic reduction on the board. A balsamic reduction is easy to make. Simply heat balsamic vinegar at a simmer until it coats the back of a spoon.

Simple nuts. Nuts are a great addition to fill the board. Use one or two nuts you have on hand. Put them any where there is empty space on the board.

Something briny.  Lastly, for extra saltiness, add something briny to the board like a pickle or olive.

Here is a check list to help you get started!

Building a charcuterie board can seem hard but once you have all your food picked out the rest will be easy. The key to displaying your food is to not leave any empty space on the boards making all the items touch. Place your small bowls for your spreads on the board first and build around them. When prepping your blocks of cheese, crumble or slice only half the block and leave the rest to be cut later. Roll, fold, and stack your meats in different ways to make them appealing. Fan the crackers out among the meat and cheeses. Use the fruits and nuts to fill in the empty spaces on the board.

Thanks for watching and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Torrie Smith, Carroll County Extension Agent - Family and Consumer Sciecnes/4-H

Torrie Smith, Carroll County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H shares information on about living well, saving money, and sharing tips to make life better and easier for the everyday person. I release videos on my Facebook Page will be providing more information about them here on this blog. 

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