A History of Charcuterie
Did you know charcuterie boards date back to ancient times? That’s right! Many cultures developed processes for curing and smoking meat to limit their waste before refrigerators came along. Little did these sustainable farming pioneers know, they were crafting an iconic platter to be shared among friends, family, and romantic interests for over 2,000 years!
Since the Dark Ages, charcuterie has evolved to accommodate a wide variety of dietary preferences and flavors. This growth has seen charcuterie boards change from a modest offering of salted meats to a medley of cheeses, spreads, breads, and fresh produce, catering to all tastes.
While much is different about this popular platter, one thing that has not changed is these delicious finger foods are best enjoyed in parks and gardens, under the summer sun.
With no rules constraining its ingredients, the only law we follow is that the love and care you put into your charcuterie board is what you will receive in experience. With that said, here are some tips to elevate your next outdoor hors d’oeuvre session, with items hand-picked for the summer season.
Nature Fresh Farms Summer Picnic Charcuterie Board
Think of charcuterie as an elegant celebration of simplicity, spotlighting the common items in your fridge and pantry. Where some see club sandwich, a charcuterie connoisseur dreams in a colorful spectrum of sensations, flavors, and textures as bright and vivid as the shining sun.
To beat the heat while testing the robust range of your taste buds, we recommend an assortment of water-rich berries and veggies, natural salts, and sharp flavors.
Perfect Picnic Charcuterie Board:
Every picnic needs a few essential building blocks to kick things off. These setup items will make it easier to share your food while adding a cute and comfortable aesthetic.
- Charcuterie platter
- Picnic basket
- Small serving knives, spoons, and forks
- Picnic blanket
- Mason jars
- Juice pitcher
You cannot have a successful charcuterie picnic without fresh ingredients! Our recommended shopping list features an enticing mix of meat, dairy, and plant-based options.
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Mini Cucumbers
- Mini Sweet Peppers
- Two or three cured meats – prosciutto, chorizo, or salami
- Three cheeses – smoked gouda, crumbly goat cheese, or a Brie cheese wheel
- One or two jams – jalapeno and red pepper jams are always a hit
- Two or three different crackers
- Trail mix or assorted nuts
- Your favorite beverage – orange juice, sparkling water, or lemonade
Including common pickup and storage items will not only make things easier on you, but it is friendlier for the environment as well. By packing these key items, you can ensure nothing is wasted or littered, leaving your picnic space exactly as you found it.
- Garbage bag
- Ziploc bags for leftovers
- Paper plates or reusable containers for serving
For more of the basics, check out our comprehensive charcuterie checklist.
Brainstorming Your Board
Use the Buddy System
It might sound silly, but just like on a grade school field trip, every piece on the charcuterie board should have a buddy so it does not get lost or feel out of place. These buddies should either complement, contrast, or cleanse a different item on the charcuterie board.
Creamy cheeses are a great example of a complement, offering a counterbalance to the salty meats on a charcuterie board. Brie and other soft-ripened cheeses have a higher fat content and smooth texture which are perfect for pairing with a slice of salami or prosciutto.
Like any good party, a theme goes a long way. Arrange your plate by complementing flavor, placing condiments and spreads near foods that pair well. For example, place your berries or crunchy nuts next to brie and soft cheeses or your salty salami next to its corresponding cracker.
Think of contrasting flavors like the yin to the yang. These seemingly opposing forces, when combined, create a unified whole that completes your plate.
Bold flavors like Red or Orange Cherry Tomatoes on-the-Vine, Mini Cucumbers, blueberries, and raspberries bring a dynamic burst of color and freshness to your plate. Their goal is to satisfy your cravings for sweet and savory flavor, while adding the freshness and texture missing in your meats, cheeses, and crackers.
Contrasting experiences can also sometimes lead to surprising combos like our Prosciutto Wrapped Shishito Peppers which would be the star of any charcuterie board!
Just as sushi restaurants serve pickled ginger as a palate cleanser in between bites of fish, having a bit of crackers or trail mix to pause between tastes of your complements is essential. Palate cleansers will avoid having flavors blend on your taste buds, offering a nice reset before diving in for a bite of a contrasting flavor.
No Meat? No Problem!
Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, a diverse sensory experience is available for all dietary restrictions and preferences. Depending on your lifestyle needs, here are a few options to add to your next charcuterie board that would tickle the tastebuds of even the most committed carnivore:
- Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
- Cucumber Canape with Herbed Cream Cheese
- Bell Peppers with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze
Presentation is Key
Having the right ingredients is only half the battle. To make for a truly unforgettable dining experience, think of your charcuterie board like a bouquet of flowers. If assembled haphazardly, you risk spilling your carefully planned assortment of goodies. Also, it just doesn’t look very nice!
A neatly organized charcuterie board served on a tasteful bamboo or hard maple platter will make all the difference between a melodic mosaic and a meat mountain.
Thoughtfully Build Your Charcuterie Board
Make the most of your limited space by pre-slicing your cheeses and produce and arranging them around the charcuterie board. You don’t need to be an origami expert to stylishly fold your meats. By tucking your cold cuts in among the exterior ingredients you can ensure a neat aesthetic while securing your items.
Ramekin dishes can also be amazing anchors to design your charcuterie board around. Think of your jalapeno and red pepper jams as building blocks that will hold down and position the other items on your charcuterie board.
Relax and Enjoy
Like any good party, a share platter is only enjoyable when executed simply and in good spirits. Bring your imagination and enthusiasm without the pressure of perfection. Let your ingredients do the leg work while you kick back and enjoy a sampling of your favorites with your best people.
For more ways to enhance your next summer gathering, consider the following options for your menu: