Picking the Perfect Cheese Board.
If you have ever watched a cooking show, or frequented a fine restaurant, you know how important presentation can be to the overall culinary experience. If you want to up your cheese presentation game, then picking the right cheese board is a must. Think of the cheese board as the canvas on which select cheeses, dried fruits, crackers and jams all can be blended in delicious combinations to please the senses. Sites like WrenHome.com, CuttingBoards.com and CarvedSolutions.com can offer you a wealth of options to choose from.
The size of your Cheese Board does matter
Let the occasion and the variety of treats, dictate what size board you use. If you have a couple of cheese selections and a few crackers you can get away with a relatively small board (12 x 8). For a party with a variety of cheeses, fruit etc., a larger board will greatly improve your presentation and functionality. Imagine the impact of an extra-large Italian Olive Wood Slab (32 x 12). A truly impressive presentation addition for your charcuterie gatherings.
Wooden Cheese Boards
The most common choice for serving cheese. Reliable, easy to clean and economical, a wooden cheese or serving board can be anything from a sectioned wood burl to an appropriated cutting board. What makes the real difference in the character of the wood and how it emphasizes the story of the cheese? For example, serving a wheel of Pecorino Toscano Cheese on a rustic olive wood slab from Tuscany, will evoke a true sense of exotic dining, whereas displaying the same cheese on a ratty cutting board with plastic spoons will downgrade the whole experience.
In addition to aesthetics, a wooden cheese board makes it easier to cut the cheese. Rounds can be cut into wedges and harder cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino can be brought down to reasonable blocks for your guests to shave and slice. Of course now is a good time to remind you that in addition to the right board, having the proper knives is also important.
Spreader Knife: For soft cheese, made for putting on crackers or breads
Cheese Plane: For hard and semi-firm cheeses, such as pecorino or parmesan.
Spade Knife: For hard cheeses
Wide / Flat Knife / Server: For semi-hard cheese and to serve after slicing
When choosing a wooden cheese board, it's important to pick a species of wood that will not absorb flavors easily. Cheese is by nature, rich in fats and oils, which have a propensity to go rancid once the fat oxidizes. While this is a part of natural aging process of cheese, most of the "pleasant" cheesy aroma is caused by the bacteria and yeast from the fermentation of the milk. Rancid fats create the same smell such as sour milk, which is sharp and generally unpleasant.
Woods to avoid that tend to pick up flavors are oak and most softwoods (fir, cedar, pine, larch, cypress, walnut and mahogany). Oak in particular is famous for it's transference, as one look at a wine barrel and you'll immediately realize wine makers use oak because it easily absorbs and imparts flavors due to it's porous nature. So when picking out a wood, a non-porous species such as Olive Wood, Birch, American Cherry, Hard Maple and Teak are outstanding choices.
To maintain your wood boards it is highly recommended to use both food safe oil and wax on a regular basis to season and seal in the wood to prevent imparting of flavors and smells. We recommend the Cutting Board Maintenance Kit with Wood Oil and Wax from CuttingBoards.com
Lastly, one careful point when picking out a cheese board is to ensure that it does not have any lacquer finish or varnish. Most of these finishes are not food safe and can chip when cut on, which will then make their way into your food.
Why Use Cutting Board Oils and Board Creams?
The goal of board oil is to penetrate the wood and saturate the wood fibers, in order to stop any other liquids (blood, bacteria) and moisture from soaking into the board. As well, a well-oiled cutting board will keep the same shape when the wood fibers are saturated, so it will not expand and shrink compared to a board that is left to completely dry, then exposed to water. This shrinking and expanding effect is the main cause of warped cutting boards.
Here is a picture of a "no maintenance" bamboo cutting board that has been oiled on one side and left dry on the other. In other words, all wood or even bamboo cutting boards need to be oiled periodically:
While board oil penetrates the wood, board cream/wax acts as a physical barrier on the surface of the wood that protects against stains and liquids. The wax also aids in sanitation, as it fills and seals in knife scars and microscopic cracks where bacteria would otherwise gather. Used in conjunction, cutting board oil & cream provide an effective combination of protective outer layer & sealed wood that is sanitary, easier to clean & won’t warp.
CuttingBoard.com recommends only the use of food grade substances for use on our cutting board, as it will be in contact with food. All of the cutting board oils and creams they carry on their site are appropriate for food contact. These products include:
Food Grade Mineral Oil: Boos Mystery Oil, Howard’s Butcher Block Oil >
Beeswax Based Creams: Boos Board Cream, Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner >
Specialty Coconut Oil: Caron and Doucet Vegan Cutting Board Oil >
Please note that cuttingboard.com does not recommend natural oils such as vegetable, corn, olive, peanut or walnut oil, as these are rich in fats that will eventually oxidize and go rancid, creating a foul smelling board. Also, never use standard mineral oil from a hardware store that is not rated as food safe, as that is meant for machine lubrication and not for contact with food.
It is not worth jeopardizing your health for a few dollars!
When searching for Personalized Charcuterie Boards & Platters to add Pizazz to your party or give as a gift CLICK HERE >
Looking for the Best Wine Clubs to serve along with your Charcuterie? - CLICK HERE >
If you are a CheeseMonger - Check out Murrays' Website >
We offer the best collection & selections Charcuterie Cured Meat, Gourmet Cheese, Charcuterie Boards & Platters, Accompaniments, Fine Wine, Craft Beer, Liquor & Spirits.