Just in time for summer, Jane Rylands, from family kitchen appliance providers Belling, offers her advice for preparing the perfect family picnic.
Warmer weather is on its way and National Picnic Week is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to pencil in a get-together in the great outdoors.
And, with a bit of forward planning, you can prepare a delicious and creative lunch in the great outdoors that the whole family will love. Below are my tips for what to pack and how to keep everything fresh.
Follow food safety guidelines
If you’re planning on bringing a portable or disposable barbecue with you on your picnic, it is extremely important that you separate cooked and uncooked food. Keep raw meats and fish in tightly sealed containers at the bottom of your basket, bag, or cooler to avoid cross-contamination, use a thermometer to make sure your food is cooked properly, and only serve meat if the juices are running clear.
It’s also good idea to pack lots of napkins, wet wipes, and anti-bacterial gel in your picnic basket that can be used keep hands and surfaces free from germs, as well as clean up sticky faces.
Keep your food cold
One of the best additions you can make to a picnic basket, if it doesn’t have one already built in, is a cooler bag. Cooler bags can help keep their contents fresh for up to several hours, limiting the risk of spoiled food. Plus, they come in handy for keeping cheeses, wines, and soft drinks pleasantly cold.
Try not to take anything out of the cooler bag until it’s time to cook or eat it. You could also keep drinks in a separate cooler so people can reach in and grab what they need without letting too much heat in. Both approaches can help keep your picnic items chilled for longer and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Choose self-serving snacks
A picnic is your chance to relax and spend time with your family, so it’s best to keep things simple when it comes to food to give yourself less prep to do on the day.
Rather than preparing a vast quantity of sandwiches with various filling combinations, let your family members make their own. Pack a selection of breads, meats, cheeses, spreads and vegetables so they can assemble their own sandwich or arrange them on a plate like a mezze platter.
Or, you could choose to prepare a few dishes the night before, such as tabbouleh or couscous salads, with lots of different flavours and textures for everyone to tuck into chilled the next day.
Prepare colourful bakes
Often, the difference between a good picnic and a great picnic is creativity. For example, a lot of home-made picnic pastries, like scotch eggs, pork pies, and sausage rolls, can look slightly dull when presented on their paper plates.
Counter this by adding a splash of colour and incorporating natural food colourings in your pastry recipes, such as purple beetroot, green spinach, and yellow turmeric, to create a rainbow of savoury treats to enjoy under the sun.
These ingredients also add an extra depth of flavour that can really make your bakes stand out.
By following the tips in this guide, you can be sure to come up with some fresh ideas for your family picnic that will brighten up their day.