Charcuterie boards have become known as a symbol of indulgence, considered the ideal snack for the summer philistines of Europe. However, you can whip up a charcuterie board pretty easily, quickly, and without breaking your bank.
There can be debate about what goes on a charcuterie board, as well as competition to see who can make it look the most aesthetically pleasing. The charcuterie board has become an artistic endeavour of the millennial blogger.
Yet, this food item, that walks the line between high and low brow, may be confusing for the American home-cook but it is an easy way to get into cooking. One thing that is widely debated among charcuterie board members (pun intended) is the place and operation of jam.
Some think jam shouldn’t be on the board at all, but considering the history of the platter we think jam is a great way to make this after dinner snack into a truly artisan experience.
Different jams obviously go with different themes, different seasons, different weather, so we have compiled a guide to how to pair jam on the board and some examples. This could take you from cheese and crackers to the pinnacle of Pinterest perfection. Read on to learn about the varieties across the board.
What Is A Charcuterie Board?
‘Charcuterie’ literally just means ‘deli’ in French. Most Americans are used to the concept of Italian deli meats and cheese and how they pair together – a charcuterie board contains many similar elements.
It can contain anything from paté, sausage, cold meats, fruits, vegetables, and cheese to jams, and a range of brined and fermented products.
Generally, in France, ‘Charcuterie’ refers to a whole host of deli products beyond simply the ‘board’.
Within French culinary procedure, the Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef’s repertoire, and is a map to becoming a master chef. It’s a French tradition of using and preserving meats, as well as other products, before refrigerators were invented.
With the modern international supermarket, while it seems they are only eaten at those fancy European restaurants, they are actually really cheap to make. Many people debate the contents of the charcuterie board, but it can contain whatever you want.
You can really stand out by including things that people may not expect, a great way to create conversation around your patio this summer.
What Kind Of Jam Suits The Charcuterie Board?
Well, this can be a rather simple, if originally daunting, concept. Just think about what kind of jams you may eat when consuming the products you chose on your board.
In simplicity, cheese, meats, and many other items on the board, are very often paired with jams. Even a cheese board has different types of jam to pair with the cheese and the savoury crackers.
The sweetness of a jam can really bring out the umami flavors in the meat and can be a great compliment to the sharp or strong cheeses. At the end of the day the real answer depends on what you have chosen to include in your charcuterie board.
Even if you don’t personally eat jam that often, the pairing of flavors should follow the same principles you would apply across any culinary practice, and this article should be able to provide you with some suggestions to go off.
If wine is your thing, there’s nothing stopping you pairing the jam with the bottle of wine you will undoubtedly be drinking while you nibble on the prizes of the charcuterie board. Wine will have very similar notes to the jam so they can be applicable to both foodstuffs, they are both fruit based so there’s nothing stopping you engaging your sommelier brain.
While this seems like just a pantry ingredient, cranberry sauce is paired with meat and cheese across the year – not just during the christmas or thanksgiving periods.
Cranberry sauce, while its name suggests otherwise, is actually a jam rather than a sauce. Cranberry sauce is much more sour than it is sweet, combining both these flavors well. If you are drinking red wine for example, the sourness of the cranberries can bring some welcome acidity to the generally rich affair that is charcuterie board.
Moreover, cranberry sauce is a welcome addition to both cheese and meats. Some cheeses this may pair with are the lighter flavor such as Wensleydale, Brie, goat’s cheese, and many others. Cranberry sauce is also great to pair with meats that are more subtle in flavor.
While this may be off the radar for some readers, Quince is a very esteemed accompaniment to any meat or cheese board and has been enjoyed alongside these foods for hundreds of years.
Quince is fruit that is similar to a pear or apple, but with a thick skin like an orange or lemon. It’s a great combination of all these citrusy flavors without letting the principal elements of one taste overpower the others – in other words, it’s a good equaliser. Quince is also a common and quality pairing with wines, especially the richer red wines that seek acidity.
One thing about quince is that it is often seen as a refined flavor. Many of your guests may have never tried quince jam before so, if they enjoy it, they will remember your gathering a little better.
Fig is a perfect pairing that will pair well with basically anything you will include on your charcuterie board.
Fig jam is quite a deep and dark flavor that is a great way to balance the components of the board together. The saltier preserved meats will appreciate the sweetness and flavor of the fig to balance that out. Cheese is also a lover of figs. Fig jam can cut through basically any cheese: providing deeper flavors to the subtle cheeses, and cutting through the stronger ones with sweetness.
During the colder and more festive periods fig jam can be a good choice to warm the stomachs of your guests, and can be a more elegant alternative to cranberry sauce.
For something a little more light and fruity, apricot jam is a great place to go.
This can be a sour compliment to the rich red wines you may be drinking, while also being sweet enough to cut through the acidity of a white. The apricot jam is also a regular sight on a cheese board. The sweetness is great with most cheeses.
Apricot could be a good choice for the sunnier weather as well as the hotter seasons such as spring and summer. The sweetness of the fruit flavors will really bring that summer vibe to your charcuterie board in a subtle way.
Any jam can pair well with the contents of a charcuterie board. Jam is used often on cheese boards so there is no reason it can’t apply in your charcuterie board. The right jam can fill in gaps in the overall flavor of the board and change something that is really simple into something great.
With these platter based dishes there is always going to be a creative potential to make it how you want, and there will always be people who have strong opinions on what should and shouldn’t be included. At the end of the day, consider it a ‘build-your-own adventure’.
Choose ingredients based on what you like, what pairs well, and what kind of ingredients are in season.