Cheddar cheese with apple pie is an American classic, but why? Laura Werlin, author of several books, including The All American Cheese and Wine Book and Cheese Essentials, noted that the habit of pairing savory cheese with sweet accompaniments like jams, honeys, or chutneys gives you the classic savory and sweet contrast that people love in dishes such as ham with pineapple or duck with orange sauce.
Want to try this for yourself? You don’t want to just plop a dab of the same jelly you use on toast atop cheese; there are a few guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind.
In general, the milder the cheese, the milder the accompaniment should be, and the saltier the cheese, the sweeter the accompaniment. The main thing to keep in mind: less is more, notes Werlin. A sweet accompaniment goes a long way…don’t go overboard or the jam will overpower. And avoid anything super sweet or super spicy, which can overwhelm the cheese.
Here are some of Laura’s cheese pairing suggestions from Real Food magazine:
Blue cheese: Saltiness is the common element you’re pairing against with all varieties in the blue category. Most contrast charmingly with anything sweet, especially fig jam and honey. Chutney has a lot going on but mango or a not-too-spicy plum one might go well. I never get tired of blue cheese and honey, particularly with a little dessert wine, says Werlin. Blue cheese and fig jam is another favorite.
Brie: A tangy/tart and sweet quality is the key for Brie. Try a rhubarb compote or rhubarb jam, tart cherry jam, or apricot.
Cheddar: With younger cheddar try an onion jam, which is sweet and savory. For aged varieties, chutney, such as mango, is a classic. You can get away with a variety of different berry jams and most other chutneys as long as it isn’t too spicy.
Chèvre: This fresh goat cheese has an affinity with dried apricots, which are not as sweet as some other fruits.
Gouda: Try onion jam with younger varieties. Apple butter and aged Gouda are really nice together. Also try lingonberry jam, which is not as sweet as some other fruits.
Gruyère: “Truly one of the best cheeses in the world, I think,” says Werlin. Try sweet cherry jam with this cheese.
Manchego: A classic quince paste has an inherent tartness that works well. Apricot would go well too.
Parmigiano-Reggiano: This is sweeter on the palate than you would think, notes Werlin, so sweeter dark fruits, such as cherry or plum jam, a sweeter fig jam, or plum Mostarda would go well.
Swiss: Cherry is a natural accompaniment.
Taleggio: Sweetened strawberry jam can work and Mostarda’s hot/sweet flavors work well with stronger cheese. (Also with aged cheddar).
For other delicious pairings, try our newest collection of Lunds and Byerly’s premium wine and beer jellies. Flavors include golden IPA, porter, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Each jelly is all natural and made with only three ingredients, giving the jellies a clean taste and bold flavor.
Try our beer jellies on ham and Brie sandwiches. Use our Chardonnay jelly on a cheese plate with soft cheeses, grapes, and nuts. Or, pair our Merlot jelly with bratwurst. Enjoy all four!
What are your favorite easy appetizer ideas?