It's a good thing kids have such great imaginations, right?
This time around I decided to try adding plant-based dyes to the dough. I've been wanting to experiment with plant-based dyes ever since we started juicing a few years ago. The intense colors of the juice made me want to do something fun with it...besides drinking it. I decided to try making plant-based dyes for this play dough without doing any research first...just to see how fool-proof it is. Or how smart I am?
I followed the basic play dough recipe with a few modifications to get the dyes to work. For each color, I made a separate batch of dough using the full dough recipe below.
Homemade Play Dough (makes almost two cups of dough)
For the dough:
1 C water/dye combined
1/2 C salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 C flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
|I bought that giant cream of tartar from a restaurant supply|
store about 10 years ago!
For three dye colors (purple, green, and orange):
1/2 C frozen blueberries, thawed
2 -3 C fresh baby spinach
1 small red beet + 2 Tbsp tumeric powder
- Juice your produce, cleaning your juicer between colors. If you don't own a juicer, chop up your produce and add a bit of water to it (just enough to cover your produce). Simmer it on the stove for a few hours. Strain.
- Using one empty jar per color, combine one color of juice with enough water to make 1 cup of liquid.
- To each jar, add 1/2 C salt (and 2 Tbsp tumeric powder to the beet juice jar). Cover the jar and shake until the salt is dissolved or nearly dissolve. I was using coarse salt because it's all I had on hand. It never did dissolve completely, but the dough came out smooth despite the coarse salt.
- Add 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil to each jar and shake.
- In a pot that holds at least 1 quart, combine 1 C of flour and 2 tsp cream of tartar over medium heat. Add liquid (juice/salt/oil concoction) and stir vigorously with a flexible spatula until the mixture begins to look like play dough. This step took me about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the pot and knead it until the color is uniform and the dough seems ready.
- Wash your pot and repeat the process with other colors, if you're making additional colors.
- Store dough in an air-tight container. If it starts to dry out, knead a bit more vegetable oil into it to bring it back to life.
|Spinach juice, beet juice (right), and blueberry juice (left)|
|Juices combined with water and salt. Waiting for the salt to dissolve.|
Making more than one color was a bit of a pain, to be honest, because of all of the containers and cleaning the juicer between colors. (Of course I did the research after I finished making my dough, and read here that you can knead your juice into the dough after making a big batch of plain dough. I also found out that carrot juice works to make orange dough. Duh.) But, I love the three colors I ended up with. And, while I think it's fun to be surrounded by neon colors like you find in the play dough you buy at the store, I love the earthiness of this dough and I really love that I don't have to wonder what's in it.
If I were to do this again, I'd use carrot, spinach, and beet juice to make my three colors (that would give me green, orange, and pink instead of green, orange, and purple). The purple is beautiful, but blueberries are kind of pricey to be grinding up for play dough dye. I'd also try making one big batch with triple the recipe above and using pure water instead of water/dye mix for the dough. Then I'd knead the juice in at the end. The kneading would take more time, but the amount of time (and water) saved doing dishes and washing the juicer would probably be worth it!
Is this something you'd be willing to tackle at home? I loved experimenting with plant-based dyes. Next summer: plant-based tie-dye!