Spontaneity is perfect when it comes to picnics. Those last-minute ‘sun is shining’, ‘at a loose end’ plans with friends and family are the best. But, if you are anything like me, you end up staring at a mostly bare fridge wondering what you can gather together for the picnic box.
Without time to plan properly, the contents look similar to the weekday pack-ups. A few cheese sarnies, multipack crisps, apples for good measure and a few chocolate biscuits to share around. It leaves me feeling uninspired. I always end up dreaming of what I could have had if I’d had time to shop and prepare properly. Picnics in my head are an occasion and the food should be worthy of one!
I’m lucky to work at and live near our amazing Farm Shop (if you’ll excuse the bias!). Popping in for a few bits on our way out to a picnic, or knowing the best staples to have in the cupboard provides the ‘pick-me-ups’ the spread needs to really sing!
Here are some ideas of how to perk up your picnic.
If you’re a picnic purist, stop reading now! To switch things up from the usual weekday packed lunch, scrapping the sandwiches all together is a good place to start. The Becketts Farm Delicatessen Counter stocks a variety of different flavoured samosas, handmade locally in Birmingham. They’re great enjoyed cold at a picnic, especially with a pot of mint yoghurt to dip or a jar of Mrs Darlington’s Mango Chutney (as yet unrivalled by any other brand in my house)! So next time you’re clutching at straws for your sandwich fillings, why not think outside the box a little?
If it sounds like I have a vendetta against plain cheese sandwiches, that’s because I sort of do! Unless the cheese is absolutely exceptional, I just think picnics deserve better. There are over 50 different types of chutney in our Farm Shop, and whilst I haven’t tried them all, I’ll admit that I always have a jar at least at home. From classic ploughman’s pickle styles to fruity and spiced varieties there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. My all-time favourite is the Spiced Tomato Chutney from Bay Tree (also great on a burger, for spontaneous BBQs!). What’s in my fridge at the moment? I took advantage of our current Tracklements offer (Buy any three Tracklements branded jars and receive a Bees Wrap clingfilm alternative for FREE). So, right now it’s Tracklements Ploughman’s Pickle and Special Edition Heritage Tomato Relish, along with their Spiced Honey Mustard. The latter is perfect with ham, or check out the Tracklements website for a Spiced Honey Mustard Sausage Rolls recipe if you’ve got a little more time to prepare your picnic!
‘Posh-up’ your picnic by adding antipasti into the mix! Cured meats, olives and some crusty bread to enjoy them with is a real crowd pleaser. Here at Becketts Farm our olive bar features not only a range of olives, but also stuffed baby peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and marinated garlic cloves. Head to our Bakery counter for a crusty loaf or some of our cheese and caramelised red onion bread to have alongside.
Forget the individual multipack crisps. Picnics are about sharing! If you’re passing by Becketts Farm on your way to your picnic spot then grab a sharing bag or two of Slabs crisps. These are crisps like no other. When they say ‘thick cut’, they really do mean it – hence the name. There are both classic flavours and some inspired by British favourites like Beef Roast or the more unusual Egg and Chips flavour. I’ve not had crisps like it before, perfect for the picnic ‘occasion’.
Local Apple Juice (…and grown-up ‘apple juice’)
A real trigger of childhood nostalgia for me is a Robinson’s squash bottle, refilled with diluted juice and chilled next to the freezer block in the picnic bag. We’d enjoy it from rainbow coloured picnic cups, fighting over who got which colour. I won’t pretend that this doesn’t still make me happy, and I’d gladly settle for this as a picnic drink of choice every time. However, working at Becketts Farm has spoiled me a little and one of the most amazing local producers we have is Pershore College. They make traditionally pressed, single variety apple juices with fruit grown in their orchards. It tastes so fresh and you can be confident that nothing but apples go into the bottle. It’s such a treat for picnics. If the grown-ups fancy apple juice of the alcoholic variety, then Hogan’s is another brilliant local brand who bottle wonderful British cider in the Warwickshire countryside.