Data Shows Britain Is a Nation of Cheese Lovers – Here’s How to Pair Them Right, According to a Chef

Cheese and fruit aren’t an uncommon combination, but adding something a bit sweeter to your charcuterie board is a must. And with 780 thousand metric tonnes of cheese being eaten in the UK every year – that is approximately 25.4 pounds of cheese for every person in the UK in 2023. 

So, it is no surprise that we are looking for some more delicious ways of pairing this classic ingredient than with the traditional plain crackers.

Darren Sivewright, Grup Innovation Manager at Baxters of Scotland, food hamper business, says: “Cheese is a cultural favourite, with classics such as Cheddar and Wensleydale coming from the UK. But do you know how to pair them correctly? Obviously, it is down to personal taste, but there are some telltale signs such as texture and strength, which can tell you what exactly it will pair with for the best grazing board in spring.”

How to pair your cheeses

Pairing your cheeses isn’t uncommon. In fact, Google Trends shows that “cheese and jam” pairings peaked in December 2023, with more people looking for what they need to be putting on their tables for the celebrations. But every day can be a cheese and jam day, with “cheese and jam sandwich” searches increasing by 40%. 

So, whether you’re looking to perfect your charcuterie board or you’re someone who wants to explore more flavours and textures, combining jam and cheese is a must. 

Darren says: “Most pairings are down to personal preference, but there are a few things you can look out for to know whether they’ll make a good match. Combining textures is just as important as flavour, so matching creamier, harder cheeses with a smoother jam can be a great way to explore flavours, while a crumblier cheese might do well with a chunkier marmalade.”

Remember to serve your cheese at the right temperature. Some cheeses do well cooled while others can be melted in the oven, whereas most jams are better at room temperature or slightly warmed. Don’t be afraid to explore different temperatures.

Pairings you need to try

  • Brie. Brie is a creamy, soft cheese which pairs well with a lot of things. Its adaptability makes it perfect for any lunchtime grazing board. One preserve you should be trying with Brie is a fig jam. Fig jams can be rich, sweet, and just a little bit tangy to help offset the richness and creaminess of the Brie.
  • Blue cheese. Rich and strong in flavour, this crumbly cheese needs a sweet and chunky jam to support it. Why not take your quintessentially British Stilton and pair it with a classic apple sauce? The slight tang and sweetness of the apple will help offset the strength of the blue cheese while helping keep the flavour.
  • Cheddar. Cheddar can be found in many homes across the nation, but what should we be pairing it with? A classic combination is cheddar and pickle, but you don’t always have to go savoury with it. In fact, Cheddar pairs perfectly with apricot conserve. The sharp and butty flavour of the cheddar is complimented by the sweet, smooth apricot.
  • Camembert. Camembert is another cheese that can be paired with more savoury items, such as garlic or dipped with bread, but it can also be sweetened for those looking for a lighter, sweeter taste. Served hot, you can combine camembert with a rich cherry and kirsch jam. Warming these up can give a truly unique cheese indulgence, while the cherry jam heightens the luxury. Choose a cherry jam with chunks of flesh for a smooth, luxurious bite. 

It is no surprise that Brits love cheese. And with many of us also having a bit of a sweet tooth, knowing how to pair your cheese and jams is a must for the upcoming picnics and charcuterie board season. If you’re looking to host the most indulgent girl’s night or family meal night, having a cheese board for dessert or as an antipasto is a must.