Building the Perfect Board
Listen, we know meat and cheese take center stage in any good appetizer spread, but it’s time to talk about crackers: the unsung side-line hero of the charcuterie board. “Ritz” might mean high-quality for hotels, but it’s not necessarily the end all be all in the cracker game. In fact, some big brands use such questionable practices for their wheat farms and so many unnecessary additives, that “cracker” might even be a stretch for what they are.
Which is why we keep it simple. We prioritize family-run flour mills, health-minded businesses, and a focus on what really matters most—taste, crunch, and environmental impact.
Like with some earthy, crunchy rosemary thyme crisps. Personally, these are a board-maker for us. They can hold their own with a sharp, hard cheese or a spicy chorizo. These particular crackers come from Potter’s Crackers, a family-run mill that makes some of the tastiest, most “occasion-worthy” crackers around. Their variety of flavors pair well with a soft cheese and a nice jam or chutney. Which, brings us to star of the starters:
Dips That Spread the Love
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: it's high time we expand the definition of “dip.” If it can be dunked into, spread across, or scooped up, we think it belongs in the dip category. So it shouldn’t surprise you when we tell you that a Hive-favorite for pairing with cheese and crackers is artichoke lemon pesto. Hearty from the artichokes and bright from the lemon, this pesto belongs on more than just pasta. In fact, it can stand alone on a spoon.
And the cherry on top? The people behind this pesto grow olives and vegetables domestically. That gives their stuff the added bonus of being better for the environment but also—you guessed it—family-owned and operated.
If mentioning cherries got you excited just a second ago, then our next recommendation will perk you right up—cherry apricot jam. Balancing tartness with sweetness, this jam sits tastefully on top of a warm brie or a sliver of Manchego. But if it’s spice you’re after, we’ve got you covered there too. Reach for some hot pepper jelly to add an edge to your board.
Both of these jammy, jelly game-changers come from Beth’s Farm Kitchen. This company “wows” us with their products, but that’s not even the half of it. Over the last 40 years, Beth’s Farm Kitchen has worked with small farmers in the Hudson Valley, and today they partner primarily with women-owned farms and focus their efforts on supporting women of color who want to get started in the agriculture industry. Talk about doubly good (the jam and the people who make it.)
Meat: What’s Missing?
So you might be wondering why it took us so long to get to the good stuff. Or maybe you skipped right to this section. Or maybe you don’t eat meat and you’re glad it’s at the end. We’ll never know. But in any case, we’ll put it plainly: we only like meat that comes from happy animals on small farms using sound practices.
What options does that leave you with? Plenty. Lately, we’ve found ourselves deeply impressed with salami crisps. And remember earlier when we mentioned chorizo? We have to admit it, we had UNION’s crisps in mind then too. If you’re wondering what the deal with them is, we’re here to help.
UNION puts regenerative agriculture front and center. That means they manage grazing patterns, sequester carbon in soil, increase the organic matter in their soil, and increase the nutrient density of their grasslands for both people and livestock. (Wow, that’s a lot, but it’s all good.)
Which is why we feel great about adding them to our charcuterie board.
The Real Secret Ingredient
Our final word of advice when putting together your appetizers is to do what feels good for you. For us, it’s all about making sure our choices ladder up to things that make a positive impact on the world. That includes both good flavors and good practices. As we head into a new year, we’re looking forward to all the ways we can commit to doing better for people, animals, and the planet—one bite at a time.