As spring shifts into summer, everything feels a little bit sweeter. Opportunities are endless, all the possibilities invigorating. Of course, some of the best summer activities involve food.
We have rounded up a few of the most fun summer activities for the fervent foodie including a shortlist of summer ideas to try after the belly is full. Let the summer bucket list commence!
Make Homemade Ice Cream
A summertime classic, try making homemade ice cream or what has been dubbed "nice cream" for a dairy-free option. Nowadays, there are many different ways to make ice cream without a fancy machine.
Try any one of the following methods to enjoy this mouthwatering favorite summer treat:
Cold Pan Method
Pre-freeze a two-inch deep metal pan and chill custard, frozen yogurt, or another ice cream base. Pour ice cream into a freezing cold pan and return to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this process until custard is an ice cream texture.
Whip together condensed milk, heavy cream and flavoring, and freeze.
Electric Mixer & Ice Bath
Make a custard base and pour it into a bowl that is resting in an ice bath. Use a mixer to churn the custard into ice cream.
Freeze ice cream base in an airtight freezer bag and freeze. Crumble frozen base, pour into the bowl of a food processor, and blend until smooth like gelato.
Freeze ice cream base in a shallow container. When fully frozen, use a fork to fluff the frozen ice into an ice cream-like texture.
Ice Pop Molds
Choose a mold and fill it with a thick custard base. Stir in add-ins like oreos or strawberries.
Pate a Bombe
Heat sugar with enough water to cover in a saucepan. Whisk egg yolks on high, pour sugar into the egg yolks with the mixer on medium, and turn the mixer to high and watch as egg yolks thicken. Let egg yolks whip until room temperature, whip cream into medium-stiff peaks, fold egg yolk mixture into the whipped cream, and freeze before enjoying.
Seal ice cream base in a plastic bag and set aside in the fridge. Fill a large plastic bag with ice cubes and rock salt then place the smaller bag of ice cream inside the larger bag. Wrap a kitchen towel around bags and shake for about five minutes until ice cream forms.
Add fruit to a cold ice cream base and use the stick blender/immersion blender to churn it into ice cream
To make "nice cream", blend desired amount of bananas in a high-speed blender. Or, prepare avocado ice cream which includes sweet and creamy fruits!
Feel free to add plant-based milk, dates, peanut butter, or cacao powder for different tastes. Add desired toppings like coconut flakes, nuts, chocolate chips, or melted peanut butter.
Plan A Picnic
Whether for a kids' summer activity or date night, plan the perfect summer picnic using these steps and tips.
1. Pick a favorite spot.
Some options include a local park, a botanical garden, the beach, atop a mountain summit, in a state park, near a creek, or in the good ole' backyard. Consider favorite idyllic, grassy spaces with shaded options and plenty of room for after-meal activities.
2. Pack the proper meal.
If wicker baskets will not properly house your meal, consider using an insulated tote or giant lunch box instead. Then, fill your vessel with a delicious meal.
Although sandwiches are the typical meal, options are endless. Country Living Magazine suggests looking up mason jar recipes for unique options that travel well.
3. Take a sturdy blanket.
Choose a blanket that provides enough cushioning and is machine-washable for those grass stains and food spills. Waterproof options cannot hurt either.
4. Bring a cutting board.
A portable cutting board is perfect for slicing and dicing food when time to eat. It can also double as a plate and makes the perfect foodie photo addition… if taken before the chowing begins!
5. Store desserts in an egg carton.
Do not throw away that empty egg carton! Instead, save it and fill it with a sweet picnic day dessert-like chocolate-filled strawberries. Of course, deviled eggs, chocolate-covered pineapple, or finger cookies would also fit nicely.
6. Lay out the perfect spread.
Most foodies revel in taking their quintessential pictures, and what’s more so than the perfect picnic spread picture? Just about nothing!
Think outside the box and layout the picnic spread in unique ways such as layering the food on top of the picnic basket, sprinkling grapes on the blanket, laying picked flowers near the food, or anything else!
Paint or Draw a Summer Food Scene
Although it does not technically involve eating food, drawing or painting can be a good way to appreciate the muse in a different way for a change. On paper, canvas, rustic wood, a mason jar, or a mural wall, create a picture of a delectable summery food spread.
Whether different versions of sweet street corn, ripe berries, bursting avocados, or the drippy ice cream from above, find the fun in being creative and enjoying food in a unique way. If arts and crafts are not a forte, consider attending a Paint and Sip class to receive guidance (and templates!).
Go Berry Picking
At their peak ripeness from May to late August, summer is the perfect time to pick some berries. Check out local berry farms and pick the appropriate amount to create all the berry goodies afterward.
Some further tips to make the most of this experience include:
• Picking a less crowded time/day
• Wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to stay cool
• Bringing extra baskets or bags if allowed
• Checking out their quintessential shop
• Talking to the local farmers. (They know the best recipes!)
Visit a Farmers Market
Similarly, visiting a farmers' market is a wonderfully fun summer activity. Many other foods find their peak in summer including corn, watermelon, tomatoes, summer squash, avocado, oranges, peaches, Idaho potatoes, and cherries. Some farmers' markets also tout other fun activities like kombucha brewing lessons, lemonade taste tests, bloody mary bars, corn hole, and more.
Make the most of it by getting there earlier rather than later, wearing proper attire, bringing reusable bags, packing a water bottle, and bringing cash if that is all they take!
Peaches are normally eaten right off the pit. However, some people think they taste better on a grill pit. Grills can elevate the juicy fruit from a simple snack to a delectable side dish or dessert.
Although ripe peaches taste the best when eaten raw, freestone peaches that have not hit their peak ripeness make the best grilling option. They have less sugar, which burns quicker and disintegrates with too much heat.
Furthermore, grilling them in halves, not slices, prevents overcooking. To make the best-grilled peaches:
1. Light a gas grill to medium heat.
2. Cut the peaches in half and coat them in olive oil or butter.
3. Place the peaches cut-side down on the grill for four to five minutes.
4. Flip the fruit and cook until tender, about four to five more minutes.
5. Serve them as is or add ice cream, brown sugar, or drizzled chocolate atop!
True pickle lovers swear by homemade pickles, boasting how much better they are than the store-bought kind. Plus, pickling is simple and pickled veggies are quite nutritious, as they provide tons of flavor and pack probiotics. Not to mention, other things like eggs can also be pickled.
Pickling simply involves submerging (usually a vegetable) into a brine mixture of salt, spices, sugar, vinegar, and water. Though, many sugar-free recipes also exist.
First, the brine is heated or whisked without heat to completely dissolve the seasonings. Next, it is poured over the produce in a glass jar. Then, keep it in the fridge for up to a week before enjoying to fully reap the flavor. However, they will keep for months afterward, thanks to the fermentation process.
Make Your Own Salsa
As mentioned, many types of tomatoes peak in the summertime, so there is no better time to whip up the best homemade salsa. True salsa fanatics will revel in the friendly competition of developing the very best recipe, and it can get heated – pun intended. While making salsa is not overly difficult, keep the following in mind:
1. Try a tested recipe first to determine anything how you can make it your own.
2. Use the correct variety of tomato and method that the recipe requires. Not draining the peeled, chopped tomatoes can make the salsa too watery in some recipes.
3. Peel the tomatoes. It might feel like the pits, but it is necessary for the best-textured salsas. To make it easier, try cutting the tomatoes into an X, plunging them into boiling water, and then submerging them in an ice bath.
4. Test out different spice levels.
5. Add in one new ingredient each time until the perfect recipe is developed and perfected.
Try this recipe from MelsKitchen to start!
Try a New Veggie Each Week
Most everyone can stand to include more vegetables in their diet. Turn it into a fun venture by committing to trying a new one each week. This is an especially great activity for those who do not think they enjoy veggies because it can take seven to 20 tries for taste buds to become accustomed to specific foods and different types of foods.
Often, when people branch out to one new food, others shortly follow. If trying a brand new veggie each week is not possible, aim to cook different veggies in as many different ways as possible. This may include on the grill, roasted in the oven with olive oil, steamed over bone broth, air fried, or in an instant pot.
Plus, some of the most unique veggies to try this summer include romanesco, kohlrabi, sunchoke, parsnips, rhubarb, yard-long beans, berry Brussel sprouts, jicama, bitter melon, Jerusalem artichoke, and black radishes.
Try a Cold Summer Soup
Soup is normally considered a favorite winter meal, but alas, there are plenty of cold options too. Light and fresh, cold summer soups make a delectable lunch on a hot summer's day.
Many of the recipes boast a unique base ingredient such as mangoes, beets, peas, or potatoes. And they certainly do not shy away from color. The nutrients are practically palatable just from gazing at them.
Other Summer Bucket List Contenders
When the fun foodie summer endeavors exhaust, try one the of following unique summer activities:
• Play a giant board game: So many options exist nowadays, from giant Jenga to Connect Four to Checkers. Pick a shaded spot or get toasty in the sun with this fun.
• Start a collection: Summer spurs nostalgia, so what better time to start a collection of something sentimental. Ideas include shells, postcards, pennies, vinyl records, or vintage books.
• Hang a rope swing: Who has not wanted an idyllic rope swing at some point in their lives? Find a sturdy spot and swing into sweet summertime.
• Read in a garden: Blossoming flowers provide the perfect backdrop for a lazy day of reading. Your nostrils will not be upset, either!
• Try a canoe or kayak: Try some water-based physical activity in a canoe or kayak this summer and feel the back muscles being put to work.
Summer activities are abundant, including making creamy ice cream or playing an outdoor game. Keep this fun summer bucket list of ideas handy when looking for fun ideas to spend the day and have a great summer!
10 Unusual Vegetables. Love the Garden. www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/10-unusual-vegetables.
Beltramo K. 10 Tips for Berry Picking With Kids. Kids Out and About Rochester. 2019. rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/10-tips-berry-picking-kids.
Bonem M. 5 Reasons to Start Pickling at Home. Food & Wine. Published May 24, 2017. www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/pickled-vegetables/5-reasons-start-pickling-home.
Carlos A. 9 Ways to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine Slideshow. The Daily Meal. Published July 29, 2015. www.thedailymeal.com/cook/9-ways-make-ice-cream-without-machine-slideshow/slide-8.
Splawn M. How To Grill Peaches: The Easiest, Simplest Method. Kitchn. Updated May 27, 2020. www.thekitchn.com/how-to-grill-peaches-246268.