Jan 282014

No yucky fake dyes please!

Playdough! It never gets old. Well it does, and then you need to throw it in the compost and start a fresh batch, but what I mean is Babe never tires of playing with it!

She’s a mixer. We spend so much time deciding what colours to make and they look lovely, and then she smooshes them all together! She’s used to making playdough with regular food colouring. But I surprised her and said we were going to do it the right way. The natural way!

We use this pretty basic recipe which I modified from Rust and Sunshine and used real food to colour the playdough. (It turns out synthetic food colouring is a lot sketchier than I ever imagined.

  • 1 cup WHITE flour (if you only have whole wheat don’t bother, learn from my mistake!)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar (not tartar sauce)
  • 1 tsp oil (coconut is what we had)

Melt coconut oil in a pan over medium. Get your child to mix everything in bowl and add the mixture to the coconut oil and stir with a wooden or metal spoon. It will form a ball and look matte instead of shiney. I’ve never overcooked it, but I have undercooked it and it’s just too sticky if it’s not cooked well enough.

I phoned my friend Cristina of fortheloveofgreens.com for quick advice on using natural food colouring. She suggested juicing greens to make green (but I don’t have a juicer and we didn’t want kale floating around in the playdough!) She also suggested turmeric for yellow (check!) and beets for red (fresh out) but I did have blueberries!


Bug kept busy working on his pincer with the baby blueberries

I boiled down some frozen wild blueberries in a bit of water. I kept adding a bit more water so they didn’t burn and let them simmer until the playdough was cooked and cool enough for Babe to mix.

I separated the dough into three and let her mix turmeric for the yellow, blueberry juice for the pink (added a little at a time otherwise it becomes too sticky) and for the brown, can you guess? Oh yes, coco powder. Smells good enough to eat!

What I got from Cristina is that we can be creative when making our natural food dyes. She used arugula and celery to make green. If anyone knows how on Earth to make blue, please let me know!

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