Many supermarkets have specialty best cheese sections next to the deli, which is where you should go to select the cheeses for your cheese board.
You can even sample hard cheeses at some locations, and if you’re stumped or overwhelmed, a cheesemonger can assist you in selecting a good variety.
Because I don’t enjoy super intense hard cheeses, I don’t get too ambitious with my hard cheese selections. For the most part, all of the hard cheeses listed below will be safe (but not boring!) choices for most people.
Favorite Hard Cheeses
- Aged Cheddar: I think a really good, sliced or cubed aged cheddar is a great option if your kids are eating off the hard cheeses board you’re preparing. There are many different kinds of cheddar, and whether you go for sharp or mild, you can’t go wrong with cheddar on your cheese board. You might want to go for a stronger flavor, such as white cheddar, which goes well with apples, grapes, pears, nuts, dates, and honey. A mild cheddar, on the other hand, is well-known and goes well with apples, pears, nuts, honey, grapes, and dates.
- Parmesan (aka Parmigiano-Reggiano) Cheese: This salty, sharp, nutty hard cheeses is always a good choice in slivers. It stands out from other cheeses, and the leftovers can always be used in salads or pasta dishes! Figs, pears, dates, walnuts, grapes, prosciutto, cured meats, and honey go well with Parmesan. If you’re using Parmesan for your fruit and cheese platter, having a wide knife on hand to cut off slivers or chunks is a good idea.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: Pepper jack cheese is simply Monterey jack hard cheeses with peppers added for a spicy kick, which I enjoy! This is my go-to snacking cheese, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of my top picks for a fruit and cheese platter. Apples, peaches, honey, pears, and crackers go well with pepper jack cheese.
- Gouda: Smoked gouda is a semi hard cheeses with a creamy, sweet interior and a rich, distinctive flavor that complements apples, pears, and apricots. It’s another of my favorite cheeses, and we tried a lot of it while in the Netherlands this year before bringing a few different varieties home.
- Gruyere: This Swiss cheese has a unique flavor that I enjoy using in cooking, but it also looks great on a fruit and cheese platter. Dark chocolate, apples, plums, cherries, and nuts go well with Gruyere.
- Manchego Cheese: This firm, sheep’s milk cheese from Spain has a flavor that reminds me of Monterey Jack, but with a richer, slightly nutty flavor. Include both Manchego cheese and romesco sauce on your fruit and cheese platter for a Spanish flair!
- Asiago Cheese: Asiago is a hard, pungent cheese that resembles a cross between parmesan and a sharp cheddar. It tastes great with apples, plums, and grapes that are tart and crisp.
- Chèvre/Goat Cheese: Now, I adore goat cheese (while my husband abhors it!). It’s a strong-flavored cheese that, like brie, goes with almost anything. Most grocery stores sell plain goat cheese as well as a variety of flavored varieties. Pears, apples, apricots, pepper jelly, cherries, figs, honey, grapes, dates, dried cranberries, oranges, strawberries, and nuts go well with goat cheese.
- Feta Cheese: Feta has a strong salty, tangy flavor that pairs well with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, nuts, oranges, and pears, and is perhaps best known in America for sprinkling over salads.
- Blue Cheese (Roquefort/Gorgonzola/Stilton): Admittedly, I am one of those people with a strong aversion to any type of blue cheese. But my husband LOVES them. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are three of the most popular varieties and are known to go well with apples, honey, pears, figs, and nuts. But I honestly couldn’t say since I won’t touch the stuff, lol.
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