Edwardian Picnic Recipes – Historical Food Fortnightly

Edwardian Picnic Recipes - Historical Food Fortnightly

‘Forethought must be exercised by the hostess in regard to the countless small details which go to make up the comfort of her guests. […] It is hardly too much to say that at least half the success of a picnic depends upon the providing of daintily packed and appetising looking fare, be it as elaborate or as simple as you please; and the invention of cardboard plates and dishes has greatly simplified picnicking’. (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

For the Historical Food Fortnightly challenge 11 ‘picnic foods’, I made delicious Edwardian lemonade and Victorian and Edwardian sweet and savory sandwiches.


How To Host An Edwardian Picnic

How To Host An Edwardian Picnic

‘One half of the attraction of a picnic depends on the daintiness of the fare provided […] Pies and tarts baked in white enamelled tin dishes travel beautifully, and salad, having been well washed and shaken in a cloth, and then placed in a white damask table-napkin, will arrive crisp and fresh. Butter keeps best if packed in a white china jam-pot, tied down with grease-proof paper, and cream travels well if ordered in a patent stoppered bottle from the dairy, and wrapped in green leaves to keep it cool.

Have An Old-Fashioned Picnic Party

Jam tartlets make a delicious and much appreciated picnic sweet, and are easily packed if the pastry cases, when baked, are piled one on top of the other like saucers in a biscuit tin, and a small pot of jam taken separately to fill them on the spot. […]

Both brown and white bread, wrapped in a white cloth to keep it fresh, should be taken […] fish boiled, boned, and skinned, and wrapped first in oil-proof paper, and then in dry cabbage-leave […]

How To Host An Victorian Picnic

Drinks are a very important matter. Stone ginger-beer is always popular, and, if wine is to be taken, hock and claret are best, with plenty of soda-water to accompany them. […]

For river picnics it is essential to have some sort of portable spirit-lamp and kettle for making tea, and a biscuit-tin in which to place them while boiling, to avoid all chance of setting light to the boat. […] The tea should be measured out beforehand into squares of coarse-meshed butter muslin, which has previously been washed and dried, about five teaspoonfuls for each square is a good allowance, and the ends are then twisted up and tightly tied with cotton […] When tea-time comes a bag of tea is dropped in the teapot, and boiling water poured on to it. […]

Old-Fashioned Picnic Recipes

A moonlight picnic given in the height of summer on a night on which a full moon is due as soon as the dusk falls is sure of success […] Such a picnic party might meet at the railway station at half-past six or seven, and on arrival at their destination should take possession of a field where the grass has already been cut, spreading their tablecloth on sloping ground, so that if heat mists rise along the hedges of low-lying fields they may be high above them.

Each member of the party should be provided by the hostess with a Chinese lantern and a nightlight or candle, and these can be hung to the branches if the moon delay her rising or be overcast, and will also serve to light the picnickers on their homeward way, making a highly picturesque effect as they wind through the fields and by-paths.’

Edwardian Lemonade Recipe - Old-fashioned Picnic Recipes


‘Sandwiches play the most important part on the picnic menu. […] Bread is better which is a day old. The dark breads, such as graham, rye, Boston brown bread, and the various nut breads made with baking powder, all offer variety.’ (Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book, 1922) ‘The bread should be cut fairly thin – not over one half inch. If the crusts are removed the sandwich is daintier and easier to eat. […] Both slices of the bread should be buttered. Spread the filling on only one buttered slice of the sandwich. Each sandwich is kept better if wrapped individually in waxed paper. […] Sandwiches will keep moist and fresh if wrapped in a damp tea towel and placed in the refrigerator until used.’ (Meals On Wheels, 1937)

1899 Plain Ham Sandwich

‘Trim the crusts from thin slices of bread; butter them and lay between every two some thin slices of cold boiled ham. Spread the meat with a little mustard if liked.’

Old-Fashioned Ham Sandwich Recipe

1905 Beef Sandwich

‘A beef sandwich may be made from cold roast beef as a filling, or from cold boiled beef.’ ‘Spread between thin slices of buttered bread. These are much easier to digest than ham sandwiches.’ (1909 recipe)

1917 Tomato or Cucumber Sandwich

‘Lay slices of either tomato or cucumber on bread which has been spread with butter and salad dressing.’

1913 Sweet Coconut Sandwich

‘Dissolve over heat one rounding tablespoonful of butter and two tablespoonfuls of sugar; when cool, add two tablespoonfuls of grated cocoanut, […] and two well-beaten eggs. This must be cold when used for sandwiches.’

Sweet Coconut Sandwich Recipe - Old-fashioned Picnic Recipes

Lemonade & Fresh Fruits

1910 Lemonade
  • 4 lemons
  • 1l boiling water
  • 12 tbsp sugar

‘Wipe the lemons on a clean cloth. Then cut off the rinds very thinly, putting them in a jug with the sugar. Carefully remove all pith from the lemons. (Unless this is done, the lemonade will have a bitter flavour.) Slice the lemons into the jug. being careful to take out every pip, for they, like the pith, would give a bitter flavour. Pour on the boiling water, cover the jug, and leave the lemonade until it is cold.’

1937 Iced Watermelon

‘The iced watermelon should be well chilled before leaving for the picnic. It will hold the cold for quite a while.’

1937 Fresh Strawberries

‘Select large berries, leave stems on. Wash thoroughly enough berries for four people and keep them whole, in the refrigerator, until ready to leave.’

18 thoughts on “Edwardian Picnic Recipes – Historical Food Fortnightly

  1. You must have had a lot of fun researching and preparing your picnic. I hope you were able to choose a spot above the mist! Thanks for sharing with us at Creatively Crafty.

  2. This is so interesting and fun! I watched the series of Life on an Edwardian Farm and loved it. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  3. Your posts always intrigue me. The care by which these ideas were written down and the simple approach to food. Clean crisp simple and good quality always tastes amazing. Love this picnic idea post very much

  4. It all looks lovely! I don’t know if it is just a problem on my end but I can’t pin anything from your site. 🙁 Thank you for sharing at Ravenwould.

    1. Thanks, Kileen. I know that there’s a problem: most visitors of my website (including me) can’t pin anything from my site. I’m trying to resolve the problem. At the moment, you can pin the post by clicking on the link below the first picture “Click here to pin for later”.

  5. So many ideas for what to do before cling film was invented – they were a resourceful lots these Edwardians! And I had no idea that cardboard plates had been invented back then.

  6. I was researching recipes for picnics from the past – like 100 years ago or so – and your site is great for that! Thank you so much!

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