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And no, it's not the ingredients.

By Sarra Sedghi
December 11, 2020
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Whether you prefer a last-minute snack platter or full-blown charcuterie, it's undeniable that cheese boards are having yet another moment. And really, can you blame them? Cheese boards are simple to assemble and even easier to consume, and fortunately for every quarantined household, they're super sharable. (Please don't share a cheese plate with anyone you don't live with, I am trying to protect you.)

But that's all for naught if you're only using one knife.

Think about it. The entire point of a cheese plate is to celebrate individual cheese flavors. Yes, there's an emphasis on pairing slices and globs of cheese with fruit, meat, and crackers, but never cheese mixing. Cheese is potent. Do you really want to get bleu mixed up in your brie?

Cheese platter with camembert, walnut cheese, gorgonzola and taleggio
Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images

"At the end of the day, the two most important things are to be able to cut the cheese safely and to keep each knife to its own cheese, so as not to mix the flavors," says Rebekah Baker, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional and Regional Sales Manager for Tillamook. "Cutting all the cheeses with the same knife is the same as cutting up strawberries with the same knife you just used to cut up garlic, or onions. The flavors transfer, even more so when you are dealing with a product like cheese that can cling to the knife."

A well-balanced cheese plate will have drastically different cheeses, and depending on the cheese's texture, your go-to cheese knife may not be the best match. "There are definitely knives best suited to specific types of cheeses," Baker says. "The biggest things to consider are matching texture and serving intention to the type of knife."

A Guide to Cheese Knives

For soft cheeses, such as brie, Baker recommends three types of knives, depending on how you want to serve the soft cheese. If you're slicing, a cheese knife with holes or a knife with a slim blade works best since they have less surface for the cheese to cling to. For spreading, especially for soft or runny cheese, a knife with a duller blade and more surface area will do the job.

Semi-firm, sliceable cheeses such as Gouda work well with a cheese slicer or a sharp-edged knife that is roughly the length of the cheese you're trying to cut.

Hard, aged cheeses are more likely to shatter than slice, so for these, use small, pointed sharp knives or knives with a double-pointed blade. "These knives allow you to dig the point in and shatter off pieces," Baker says.

prodyne cheese knife for slicing soft cheese
Credit: Amazon

Best For Soft Cheese (Slicing)

Prodyne CK-300 Multi-Use Cheese Fruit and Veggie Knife

Buy it: $15; Amazon

spreading knife set of six
Credit: Amazon

Best For Soft Cheese (Spreading)

findTop Stainless Steel 6-Piece Cheese Spreader Set

Buy it: $16; Amazon

boska cheese slicer
Credit: Amazon

Best For Semi-Firm Cheese

Boska Copenhagen Cheese Slicer, Stainless Steel

Buy it: $10; Amazon

boska hard cheese knife
Credit: Amazon

Best For Hard Cheeses

Boska Stainless Steel Hard Cheese Knife With Forked Tip

Buy it: $17; Amazon

stainless steel cheese knives
Credit: Amazon

Best For Gifting

Naticalley Concept Stainless Steel Cheese Knife Set

Buy it: $17; Amazon

Jean Dubost Laguiole 3 Piece Cheese Set
Credit: Amazon

Best For Gifting

Jean Dubost Languiole 3-Piece Cheese Set

Buy it: $51; Amazon

This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com