Summertime is here and the lure of the picnic is strong. But how many times has your picnic turned into a disappointing mess with warm salad and squashed sandwiches?
Here’s my tips for the perfect, stress free picnic.
Ditch the family silver
Don’t try and recreate a sit down dinner, that’s not what picnics are about. If your picnic depends on lots of knives, forks, serving spoons and the like then you find that it’s less relaxed: people start looking for places to sit where they can balance their plate while they cut into your lovingly prepared whole salmon or steak.
Finger food is far more informal, plus no one will get the blame for accidentally throwing out your favourite forks with the rubbish!
If you can’t live without a fork, take some compostable or wooden ones which can go straight into the recycling. Avoid plastic – they will be in landfill forever.
Single serve is king
Make it easy on yourself. Rather than big portions which you have to transport and serve up, only take food which is in ready to eat portions and people can help themselves.
A ploughman’s lunch is a summer essential but would you want to make a massive one to serve all your family and friends? Instead make single serve ploughman’s sticks and serve with little pots of pickle.
A tin of feta and pepper swirls make a pretty pastry offering that won’t squish like a whole quiche could.
Spiced hassleback potatoes aren’t messy and will stay warm if wrapped in foil from the oven.
A pudding pot for each person is well worth breaking my no cutlery rule as it is far less mess than slicing up a chocolate cake. These no bake dessert pots are ideal.
Sweet mini pastries such as a honey and ginger palmier need nothing more than a napkin to enjoy.
Pack it well
It might sound obvious but make sure nothing is going to leak. Good cliptop jars and containers and pack ice packs around them if your food is perishable. Lots of napkins are always useful and can be used as padding in your picnic basket.
Chill don’t dilute
There’s only one thing worse than warm drinks: dilutes drinks. Stick a load of ice in it on a hot day and you end up with tasteless water. Instead pour your drink into a flask and add frozen fruit. Match flavours- so apples or mango in apple juice, strawberries in rosè etc. The flask will keep it cool in transit and the fruit will keep it cool in your glass, adding flavour as it defrost.
That’s it. All you have left to do is pray for sunshine and enjoy!
What are your top picnic tips to avoid an al fresco fiasco?