Holiday entertaining? Get Your Sweet and Salty Groove On

Try Blake Hill Preserves and Cobb Hill Cheese for a great local combination.

Culinarians are great. They take things like jam and cheese and say, hey, let’s put these seemingly incongruous things together and see if it tastes yummy. Then they tell the rest of us if it works out or not. Great system!

Jam and cheese is a great combination because sugary and salty is famous for hitting a harmonious sweet spot on the palate. Want a good local pairing? Try these:

Blake Hill Preserves is an award-winning specialty preserve maker in Windsor, Vermont. All the artisan spreads are either organic or GMO-free.

Cobb Hill Cheese has been handcrafting two award-winning artisan cheeses for more than 16 years on a farm in Hartland, Vermont. The cheese makers follow the age-old process of heating milk, hand-stirring the curd, hooping, and pressing.

Co-op cheesemonger Terri Weston recommends pairing Cobb Hill’s Ascutney Mountain cheese with Blake Hill’s Raspberry and Hibiscus preserve.

Ascutney Mountain is an alpine-style, natural rind cheese, aged 8 to 9 months, with a sweet, nutty flavor.

Raspberry Hibiscus is a savory mixture of ripe raspberries simmered with organic hibiscus flower petals to create a fruity and fragrant jam.

Not a raspberry fan? Not a problem. Terri says Ascutney Mountain’s unique flavor profile goes well with nearly any preserve in Blake Hill’s fabulous lineup.

Tips and Tricks

Serve with crackers or sliced baguette for a quick, elegant cheese plate. Feeling more daring? Make into a grilled cheese sandwich to give an old favorite a new dash of sizzle and pluck.

Here’s a few more tips from the Co-op pros and from our friends at Stronger Together:

Think Equality. When it comes to cheese and jam, egalitarian flavors go well together. You don’t want the flavors to compete or for one to outdo the other. Try a strong cheese with an assertive jam, or a mild cheese with a delicate jam. If one flavor dominates, you lose some of the magic that happens when good flavors complement each other.

Think goat. In a pinch, nearly all jams pair well with goat cheese. 

Think temperate. Serve at room temperature. “There are exceptions to everything,” says Co-op cheesemonger Ken Weldon, “but in general, things have more flavor at room temperature.” To warm cheese to room temperature, Ken suggests setting a cheese plate somewhere high, such as the top of the refrigerator, so it’s near the ceiling. Then cover the cheese with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let sit for a few hours.

Think gusto. Be fearless! Experiment with new combinations using whatever you have on hand at home. All you really need is a sense of adventure.

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at