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Charcuterie may sound complicated, but simply put, it’s the perfect way to pair and compare a variety of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. If you’ve only had mustard on sandwiches or parmesan on pasta or honey in tea, these foods can take on a new life as part of a spread.

What do you need for a perfect charcuterie board? Variety. Nuts, cheese, fruit, cured meats, honey, crackers, veggies, crudité, spreads, dips, sauces, and olives can all play a part. Giving guests a wide array of choices to play with is an easy way to stir up conversation at any luncheon, picnic or get-together. And with 23 varietals of Local Hive Honey to pick from, there’ll no shortage of ways to sweeten what’s on their plate. Here’s how to get started putting it all together.

Start With Cheese

While we’re pretty sweet on honey, we have to admit that cheese is the main attraction for any charcuterie board. Start with a neutral, popular cheese like hard cheddar, then add in a variety of colors and textures, like soft goat cheese and even softer brie — always a favorite.

Ricotta, bleu, manchego, provolone (especially smoked) and parmigiano (AKA parmesan) each unlock even more flavor when paired with local honey. There are really no wrong answers here, but the best honey and cheese pairings combine notes of the five flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, tangy and umami.

Add Plenty of Texture

Crackers, of course, don’t just have to be crackers. Pretzel crisps, crostini, sliced baguettes and more can all make a perfect base for stacking and combining meats, cheese, honey and more.

The “charcuterie” in charcuterie board means the meats, and no board would be complete without a great selection of cured and sweet meats. If you’re not sure where to start, try soppressata, salami, and prosciutto. To give guests a full experience, make sure to include something pre-sliced as well as something they can slice themselves, whether a hard meat like salami or a soft cheese like brie.

Finally, make sure there are several options of the salty and savory variety. This could include pickles, pickled pepperoncini, giardiniera, pâté, terrine, mustard, even hummus and veggies. These provide a much-needed acidity and texture to balance out the sweets, rich cheeses and savory meats.

Sweeten the Whole Deal

 Including a few different local honeys not only allows guests to appreciate the range of flavors in honey, it brings out different flavors in the meats, cheeses and breads you pair with them. Try our Midwest varietal honey on an herby cracker, then a drizzle of our Florida varietal on a slice of baguette, and you’ll instantly notice the possibilities of honey.

As a final note, here are some tips to make sure your board includes everything you need to make an impression and keep people sampling.

Charcuterie Checklist:

– Use a wooden or marble cutting board or serving board.

– Play with the arrangement on the board. Instead of grouping all the cheeses and meats together, encourage guests to experiment by mixing up cheeses, meats and accents.

– Add fresh herbs like basil and rosemary to fill extra space.

– Serve cheese at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge 20–30 minutes before serving.

– Include labeled ramekins for sauces and dips like local honey, hummus and paté.

– Provide a cheese knife, tongs, and any other utensils needed.