Pack your picnic basket for spring


Hannah Shulman

People relax in Prospect Park on a beautiful April day.

Kendall Levison, Staff Writer

Spring in New York City is truly something to celebrate, and the best way to do it is with a picnic — a meal where sunshine is an essential ingredient.

When planning your picnic, make sure to keep it simple. The point is to enjoy being outside with your friends, so there is no need for fancy food. Many of the best picnic items  — like fresh bread, fruit and cheese — are ready to eat right from the store.

You can supplement these ready-made items with other dishes that are easy to make at home, like salads and sandwiches. Other picnic basket essentials include disposable plates, cups, utensils, napkins and something to sit on like a blanket or some towels. 

No matter what foods you pack, no picnic is complete without a refreshing beverage. Lemonade is a classic choice, and you can up your game by adding some of the fresh fruit that is back in season. Most commercial pink lemonade owes its color to red dye, but by adding raspberries to homemade lemonade, you get a vivid color and a great tart flavor.

This recipe uses sparkling water to make carbonated lemonade, but you can use still water if you prefer a non-bubbly drink. No matter how you decide to make it, this easy lemonade is the perfect thing to pack in your picnic basket.

Real Pink Lemonade

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra
8 lemons
1 liter bottle of sparkling water, cold


1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the thin, bright yellow peel — also called zest — from four lemons. Add to a small pot along with the raspberries, sugar and a half cup of tap water. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the berries start to break down, or for about seven minutes.

2. Place a strainer or colander over a medium bowl. Pour the raspberry mixture into the strainer and press down on it with a spatula to squeeze all the liquid into the bowl. Throw out whatever is left in the strainer and move the freshly made syrup into the fridge to cool.

3. Cut all the lemons in half, and squeeze them into a measuring cup. You should end up with a little more than a cup. Save any extra juice in a small bowl and set it aside.

4. When you are ready to make the lemonade, retrieve the chilled syrup from the fridge. In a pitcher or bowl, combine the syrup and lemon juice. Add the sparkling water and stir until combined.

5. Pour a small amount of lemonade into a cup and taste. If the lemonade is on the sweet side, add the reserved lemon juice. If it is too tart, add more sugar. When you have finished adjusting to your personal taste, pour in a thermos or jar and enjoy at your favorite picnic location.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 28 print edition. Email Kendall Levison at [email protected]