Tuesday, October 19

Forget the mayo, but remember the honey: Readers’ Proven Tips for the Perfect Picnic | Picnics

Turkish börek pack

Last year, we took börek to several picnics: giant spirals of filo pastry stuffed with Turkish white cheese and spinach (alternatively, lamb and potato). They are ideal for picnics because they taste so good cold, you can cut them into smaller sections to carry in a plastic tub and the filling and dough hold together well. My other tip would be to keep some lightweight folding chairs in the trunk of the car for impromptu picnics (cheap Eurohike ones are great) along with reusable plastic cutlery. I also carry a collapsible / telescopic metal drinking straw.
Lucy Matthews, Nottingham

Be creative

Making your own picnic basket is a wonderful and creative way to recycle old shoe boxes. Cover the outside of the box with fabric and the inside with waterproof material. It is the perfect solution for carrying napkins, placemats and cutlery. Of course, here in Italy we love to eat pasta on a picnic. Prepare short pasta, like fusilli, as you normally would and add extra virgin olive oil. Wait until cool, then mix the cooked vegetables, eggs, and ham into small pieces. You can also do this with rice. Good appetite.
Barbara Pietrobon, graphic designer, Italy

Bring jars of honey

Honey for the bees.
Honey for the bees. Photograph: Yupaluk Phangpan / Getty Images / EyeEm

People tend to pay a lot of attention to food at picnics, but not to the environment. Annoying insects that interrupt your picnic can take a toll on the environment. A good tip for a picnic is to choose a spot that is not near standing water, because that is where insects like to hang out, and bring a couple of jars filled with some honey mixed with water. Place the jars a couple of meters from where you are sitting and the insects will collect the honey on you.
Amy Swain, Content Marketing Partner, Hertfordshire

Pair champagne with fried chicken

I have a host of “from scratch” picnic recipes that include homegrown herbs mixed in a mortar with garlic, oil, and chili flakes, but when the sun rises without warning and you have a window of opportunity, blow it up. Chill cremant / cava / champagne in a cool bag and visit your local fried chicken joint. They will have napkins and condiments, and all the food will stay warm for the 15 minutes it takes you to get to the lake shore or hillside, or just outside. Fish and chips can work too.
Anna-Louise Dearden, writer, Wellingborough

Bring hot water bottles

Hot or cold, the perfect complement to your picnic.
Hot or cold, the perfect complement to your picnic. Photograph: Jamie Grill / Getty / Tetra

Bring hot water bottles filled with hot (but not boiling) water on cold days, or ice water on hot days; These can be placed in your picnic bag / cooler with hot food or cold drinks. The warm variety is really nice to hug if the temperature drops, and the water inside can also be used to wash off greasy, sticky, or gritty fingers before heading home; you can even have a bar of soap.
Annie, Retired, Devon

Don’t forget the garbage bags

Leave no trace.
Leave no trace. Photography: Alamy

Wherever I plan to have a picnic, I always make sure I have a couple of garbage bags with me. The dumpsters in the parks are often overflowing and I don’t want to leave trash on the lawn or even put things in my regular bag. What if that smelly piece of plastic covered in hummus stains your summer cotton bag? Trash bags are the solution. You can get rid of them at home or on the go, and they are also useful as a cover in the event of a sudden downpour.
Sara Fedeli, Librarian, Cambridge

Bake a cake that won’t crumble

One of my favorite parts of a picnic spread is taking a nice dip or two with veggies – hummus, muhammara, or wild garlic cream cheese, it all works. I also like to have some kind of pastry, preferably with a filling of nuts, mushrooms, vegan sausage meat and chilli and a beautiful green salad, the fresher the better, as well as homemade bread, maybe a hard cheese and good marinated olives. If you’re going to have cake, make sure it doesn’t fall apart – figgy’s tiffin or flapjack are good. Do not forget to have a good drink, a quality cordial or a cold wine, and also water. My favorite picnic accessories right now are a baseball bat, ball, and my terrier.
Mandy Farrer, Vegan Chef, Wales

Build your own picnic box

Volker Ramge's homemade picnic box.
Volker Ramge’s homemade picnic box. Photography: Volker Ramge

Bring a camping pot, a small pot, fresh fish, and a thermos full of clam chowder to your picnic. You can heat the fish soup in the pot and add the fish before serving. I also made a picnic basket out of an old wooden box, which is perfect for carrying a three-course picnic for up to four people.
Volker Ramge, lawyer, Germany

Avoid mayonnaise

Choose pet-friendly and weather-friendly foods – even if you don’t bring your dog on your picnic, others may bring theirs. Avoid ruining the party with mayonnaise-based salads and chocolate-based dishes – they spoil incredibly quickly in the heat, and chocolate could be harmful to your furry guests. I always prefer dry foods, like croissants and quiches, and I often make a cake to go. It is perfect for sharing with others and it can also save money.
Marcio Delgado, digital consultant, London

Making masala chai

Hassi Shah-Leverett Masala Chai Picnic.
Hassi Shah-Leverett Masala Chai Picnic. Photography: Hassi Shah-Leverett

Plan a variety of mini bites, with a selection of sauces and chutneys, then serve them all on a platter and chop. Sunday picnics were part of my childhood and I have fond memories of enjoying a selection of Indian delicacies followed by aromatic masala chai (Indian spiced tea). My love of picnics remains strong and these days I pack a picnic to suit a variety of tastes, from samosas and pakoras to a selection of sandwiches and a cheese platter.
Hassi Shah-Leverett, Retired, Fareham

Invest in a decent kit

Bring small, compact chairs – it makes a big difference in comfort. Picnics don’t have to be lunch or dinner; we go as a family after work, for an hour of snacks and drinks before dinner. Seeing the sky and some people, chatting or playing outside makes a difference. Invest in some decent gear, like a good picnic bag with lots of melamine plates, cups, and metal cutlery that can be reused over and over again to reduce waste.
Rachel Delhaise, Director of Sustainability, London


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