How Do I Slice Cheese for a Cheeseboard?
I am going to explain how to cut any shape of cheese to make sure you can elevate the presentation of your cheeseboards or charcuterie platters. Believe me, there is an easy solution whether it’s a wedge, wheel, pyramid, or chunk. With a few unexpected tricks, you will get you the perfect cheese slice every time!!
The first basic thing to know are that warm or fresh (less aged) cheese will be stickier and softer. Conversely, once cheese gets to be drier and older, it becomes brittle and crumbly, which also makes it difficult to slice nicely to present on a cheese or charcuterie board. Next, since it is always best to offer a range of cheeses on any platter, you will have to work with whatever shape you’ve got. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, having the correct cutting tool is invaluable.
Cold or Aged Cheese Is Sturdier To Cut
Warm cheese, especially soft or semi soft cheeses such as goat cheese or mozzarella, tends to be softer and stickier, so can be difficult to cut. It can stick to a knife blade, and make a pretty big mess. Firstly, you should store your cheese in a drawer within the refrigerator so that the temperature does not rise when the door is opened. I don’t recommend freezing many cheeses, but in certain circumstances, 30-minutes in the freezer will make an otherwise unwieldy cheese, much more manageable. This is really only an option for cheese that will be cooked, such as for mozzarella for pizza.
If you are serving cheese on a charcuterie, keep in mind that it will quickly come up to room temperature. This is great for allowing the full flavor to develop, but can be awkward for guests serving themselves. To avoid guests having to deal with a sticky mess on the cheese board, you could also pre-slice the cheese for guests, or, more practically, make sure you have a good cheese knife or slicing wire out with the platter.
In some cases, the best solution is to avoid soft and fresh cheese, and just use a selection of moderately aged cheeses such as aged cheddar, Jarlsberg, and Asiago. Soft cheese with a rind, such as Brie and Camembert are also good options as the rind makes them a bit easier to slice even when they are at room temperature.
Use the Correct Cheese Slicer
Cheese slicers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there really is a slicer for every type of cheese!
Soft cheese such as veiny blues or goat cheese are very easy to cut with a wire cheese harp. The wire makes a tiny point of contact so that virtually nothing can stick to it.
Semi-soft cheese and medium cheeses can be cut with a specialized cheese knife that has cut outs on the blade. Again, the idea is to give the cheese as little surface area as possible to stick to. If you don’t have a cheese knife, a knife with vertical serrations on the blade also works as the serrations make an uneven surface, which minimizes the cheese sticking.
Crumbly and firm cheese can be split apart using a cheese spear so that the irregularities in the cheese dictate where it breaks.
If you have a wonderful block of cheese that you want to highlight as a centerpiece of your display, a separate board may be used. A wire cheese slicer board will not only give you a great space for displaying a particular cheese, but it means you don’t have to pre-slice it. Keeping the cheese as a whole block will mean that it is easier to store (if it isn’t all finished!!)
Medium to hard cheeses are best sliced with a cheese plane as it will give you an even thickness of slice across the whole piece. Knives are notoriously difficult to slice evenly with, and if the cheese is being presented on a board or charcuterie platter, it looks a million times better with a smooth, even slice.
Be Gentle and Be Patient (I know it sounds cheesy!)
Don’t hack into your cheese in a hurry. Give the blade or wire time to work through the cheese. If you are making a cheeseboard or charcuterie, this is particularly important for nice presentation. Once you have cut the cheese, make sure you arrange it so that it keeps well. For hard cheese, this means packing it tightly so that as little air as possible circulates around it, and for soft cheese, this means as few points of contact as possible so that it’s sticky sides don’t re-stick together.
Each Shape of Cheese Has A Natural Cut
Rounds can be comfortably cut into thin wedges so that each piece has some rind and some inside.
Wedges can sliced in a couple of different ways. Wide wedges can be sliced thinly from the inside point to the outside, so you have a row of triangles to display. Alternatively, lay the wedge on its broad side, and if necessary, cut the wax or rind off the top and bottom, then slice into thin triangles.
There are a couple of options for rectangular blocks – thick slices or cubes are my faves, and which one simply depends on what else I am putting on the board. If I have spreads and accompaniments that go well on crackers, I will serve slices so that it is easy for guests to place on a cracker. If I have lots of chunky accompaniments such as dried fruit or olives, I love the combination of a cube of cheese with an olive as they are similar sizes and can be eaten together as the flavors are really complimentary.
Pieces of crumbly cheese, including feta and some blues, can be levered apart into small chunks and piled onto a section of the board, or a small and shallow bowl to ensure it stays tall and contained.
Logs of soft cheese (such as goat cheese) can be sliced into thin rounds. This is particularly nice if there is a herb or fruity coating on the outside of the log, so everyone gets some of the seasoning and some of the inside.
Creamy and spreadable cheese is best served in a small bowl rather than placing it directly onto the board, and will need a wide spreading knife.