Charcuterie boards have been around for quite some time, but in recent years they have received a boost of popularity, with more and more people wanting to create their own. In part, this is due to the rise of the rustic and outdoor aesthetic, with people loving the picture-perfect picnic vibe. And a charcuterie board gives you exactly that!
But with more and more people jumping on the charcuterie board trend, questions are raised as to what the exact rules are. What is required in order for it to truly be a charcuterie board? Are there certain mandatory ingredients? Does the board have to be wood?
Well, the ingredients can be whatever you want them to be, although there is a focus on cured meats, cheese, and ingredients that complement these. But as for the board…it’s quite the debate!
Traditionally, charcuterie boards are all prepared on a wooden board, but you can also find charcuterie boards made out of slate or other alternative materials, and they can be quite popular!
So technically, there are no hard rules about the board having to be made out of wood, but this is the standard for charcuterie boards, and traditionally they are always made out of wood.
You are free to experiment with other types of boards, of course, but if you want your charcuterie board to be recognizable for the standard of what it is supposed to be, then use wood.
What Wood Should Charcuterie Boards Be Made Out Of?
The traditional charcuterie board, and the popular standard, is always made out of wood. But that’s not where the matter ends. Because you see, not all wood is suitable for making a charcuterie board, so there are certain woods to look out for, and certain aspects and traits that are necessary. Who knew there were so many specifics right?
So…what kind of wood should a charcuterie board be made out of?
The first rule is that it needs to be hardwood, instead of softwood. Softwood is usually evergreen wood, flexible and malleable. Hardwood on the other hand comes from trees that lose their leaves during the winter season, and it’s ideal for a cutting board because it is a lot tougher, longer-lasting, and it doesn’t taint the food with any wooden flavors.
The hardwood that you use should also be non-porous (so that it doesn’t absorb any oils, grease, or flavor from the ingredients placed on it), and it should be high-quality and appealing. After all, the board is most of the aesthetic! It needs to look good, and it needs to be good enough for the display of food that will be arranged on its surface.
Here are some of the best woods that charcuterie boards can be made out of:
Teak is a water-resistant hardwood that is highly durable, and it is also environmentally friendly. It also tends to have beautiful and striking patterns, which is what makes it a favorite for charcuterie boards!
Acacia wood is durable and sustainable, and it is a favorite for charcuterie boards thanks to its beautiful appearance. One of the best parts about this option is that it is a semi-hardwood, rather than a full hardwood, and this means that it’s a little more gentle on your knives (when they slice), so they don’t get worn down as fast as with harder boards!
- Hard Maple:
Hard Maple wood is pale and light in its color, which allows it to stand out from most other charcuterie board options. It’s also why it’s used for specific themes or designs in which you want to show off a specific color scheme. It is durable and appealing and can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Cherry wood is known for the rich red tones of its color, which is why it is often seen as a luxurious option for charcuterie options, or for winter and Christmas-themed arrangements. It is also one of the hardest and most durable woods, so it’s perfectly long-lasting, especially when well maintained!
If you want to go full traditional with your charcuterie board, you should definitely use Olive wood, giving it that Mediterranean feel. It is hard and durable, long-lasting, and beautiful. Plus it’s ideal for when you’re serving olives and cured meats from the Mediterranean regions!
Bamboo has become an increasingly popular choice of wood for charcuterie boards, mainly due to its affordability, and how long-lasting and durable it is. It’s easy to find, environmentally friendly, and it also looks great!
Walnut is an iconic American hardwood, highly favored for charcuterie boards, and cutting boards in general. It is incredibly hard, and it is also heat-resistant, making it highly convenient for when you want to include hot foods in your charcuterie arrangement. Plus, it looks great!
Oak is a beloved wood, in myth, history, and all around the world. There’s something magical about oak, that makes it incredibly appealing. And it’s also great for charcuterie boards! It’s durable, tough, and highly available.
And of course, its beautiful colors and patterns make it an excellent choice for when you want an extra special presentation. It’s especially suited to charcuterie boards served on special occasions and events!
What Are Some Alternative Materials For Charcuterie Boards?
Although charcuterie boards are preferably made out of wood, as this is the tradition, there are no hard rules that prevent you from using a board made out of something else.
In fact, it’s becoming quite popular to use different types of boards for different occasions and events and to match different themes and aesthetics.
That being said, not all materials will be good for a charcuterie board. As it stands, there are two main materials, other than wood, that are acceptable for a charcuterie board: slate and marble. Let’s take a quick look at both options!
- Slate Boards:
Slate is an excellent option for charcuterie boards because it is different while retaining that rustic and outdoor vibe. The main advantage of this material is that it is a lot more lightweight, although it can be quite brittle so you need to be extra careful when handling it.
Another great advantage is that you can write on it, like a chalkboard, so you could draw on labels or decorative elements on it! You can then clean it with some water, and it’s ready for the next round!
Overall, it’s a more delicate and fancy-looking alternative to wood, that retains the rustic design.
- Marble Boards:
If the slate is a fancier version of wood, marble takes it to a whole other level, as it can make the display of food look fit for royalty! It’s incredibly elegant, and the different options within marble can make for some truly beautiful designs. It is also very sturdy, making it quite durable.
The best advantage, however, is that marble can be chilled, so it is great for keeping soft cheeses and similar foods from melting, especially if you’re serving the platter during the summer season!
So…does a charcuterie board have to be wood? The conclusion is pretty much that it’s up to you, but traditionally speaking charcuterie boards are always made out of wood, and this is the most popular material for them.
Alternatively, you could try using a slate or marble board, which is becoming popular for special events or charcuterie board themes.