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Buying Cheese for a Cheese Platter

How to Choose the Cheese and Buy the Right Amount

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If you know what type of cheese to buy and how much, putting together a cheese platter for a party is a simple and fun task. Before you head to the cheese shop, read on to find the answers to many of the questions you may have about buying cheese for a platter.

How Many Different Types of Cheese Should I Buy?

Istara, Gruyere and Humboldt Fog. Photo courtesy of Chef John Mitzewich

Serving between 3-6 types of cheese insures an interesting selection that won't overwhelm or over-stuff your guests.

Or, if you want to keep things simple and make a stunning visual impact, consider serving a very large piece of just one type of cheese. You can serve a large wedge of cheese (like Parmigiano-Reggiano or English Cheddar) or even a half or whole wheel of cheese (like Drunken Goat or Brillat Savarin) When you're serving only one type of cheese, make sure it is full-flavored and perfectly ripe - a good cheese shop will help you pick out something amazing.

How Much Cheese Should I Buy?

Half a pound of Appenzeller. Photo by J. Meier

As a general guideline when you're serving several different types of cheese, assume that each guest will eat between 1 - 2 ounces of each cheese that is served.

More specifically, if you are serving other types of food (like a buffet or pot luck) or the cheese is being served as dessert at the end of a meal, you can assume between 1 - 1 1/2 ounces of each cheese per person. If you're serving a cheese platter as the main hors d'oeuvre, you're likely to need at least 2 ounces of each cheese per person.

Example: 1 pound has 16 ounces, so for a party of 10 people where the cheese platter is the main hors d'oeuvre, you should consider buying 1.25 pounds (20 ounces) of each type of cheese.

Budget Saving Tips:

  • Consider buying smaller amounts of more expensive, artisanal cheeses and buying larger amounts of inexpensive cheeses (look for less-expensive Brie, Cheddar, Gouda or Monterey Jack.)
  • Serve plenty of bread and crackers and other garnishes so guests have other things to fill up on and you can get away with serving less cheese
  • What Types of Cheese Should I Buy?

    Cabot Cheddar, Andante Dairy Nocturne, Schmidhauser Tomme de Chevre. Photo by J. Meier

    When you're buying cheese for a cheese platter, think about making each cheese different from the others in some way. Texture and flavor are the two big things to consider.

    For example, serving 3 hard cheeses is less interesting than serving one hard cheese (pecorino), one semi-soft cheese (Quadrello di Bufala) and one really soft cheese (Camembert).

    Similarly, serving three types of cheese that have very different flavors (such as a blue cheese, a triple cream cheese and an aged cheese) is much more interesting than serving three types of cheese that taste pretty much the same. One easy way to avoid buying cheese that tastes too similar is to select cheeses that are each made from a different type of milk. Serve at least one goats' milk cheese, one sheeps' milk and one cows' milk cheese.

    Do I Want the Cheese to Have a Theme?

    Port Wine and Cheese. Photo by F. Lyons/Cole Group/Getty Images
    As you choose cheeses that have different textures and flavors, consider having a theme for the cheese platter that ties everything together. This isn't necessary, but can be fun. Some themes to consider:
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