"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Natural Playdough

OK if you are brave (like me) then you give in and let your kids play with playdough despite the huge mess it makes!  And there is no denying that it makes a mess . . . pretty much every time!  But they just love it so much!  My kids have always loved it and lately they have been loving playing with their pokemon figurines in the playdough.

If you are thrifty (like me) then you like to make your own playdough.  I started making playdough like 15 yrs ago when I worked at an Early Learning Center (long before having my own kids).  I have seen many, many recipes on the web and I have tried many.  I like to stay away from Alum which many recipes use.  But the ones that use Cream of Tartar call for SO much of it that it seems almost wasteful.  And the natural recipes I came across talked about using natural food colorings or making your own natural food coloring to add to the playdough after it was finished and that seemed too complicated.  

So I decided to kind of wing it and take some ideas from several recipes and come up with something easy and still natural . . . and to my surprise . . . it worked!! 

What I did was start with a good recipe I knew worked.  They all call for water, so instead of water in the recipe I replaced it with some type of natural liquid that was colored. 
Then I used less cream of tarter than what is usually called for (trying to conserve it) and it turned out great!!
Here is the final recipe I came up with.  I am giving you the full recipe but after my first batch I ended up cutting it in 1/2 because I had a lot of different colors I wanted to try.  Most of the pictures you see here are of this recipe cut in 1/2 and it still makes a nice sized ball of dough.

The Recipe
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of liquid*
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar

* For liquid I used what I happened to have on hand that would make color.  I used raspberry juice concentrate, grape juice (either full strength or diluted if I thought it was needed) blueberry juice (from boiling blueberries) strong tea (coffee would have worked too).  I also used paprika and cocoa, which I just mixed in with some water.  If I would have had some liquid chlorophyll (or even spinach that I could have boiled to make green water) it would have rocked the green!!  Next time.  Not sure what I would use for blue but really, you can use anything.   Some more ideas, carrot juice, beet juice, shoot any juice you have on hand or any liquid left after boiling veggies or whatever can be used in place of water, and any powder (herb, spice etc) as well.  The raspberry, grape and blueberry turned out very similar in color, just slightly different shades. 

In a pot, mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil . . . slowly add your liquid

Put your pot over med heat and stir.  As it warms up it will start to thicken.

Continue to stir until the dough gets thick, forms a ball and separates from the sides and bottom of the pan.
Turn onto something like wax paper or floured surface.  Keep in mind that it is hot!!

As it cools you can kneed it to a nice smooth consistency (the kids are usually anxious to help with this part)

For these I added cocoa (left) and paprika (right) to the mix

I was concerned that using juices and stuff would make it go bad quicker, and you can always store it in the fridge if needed.  But I made this stuff over a month ago and it is still good.  I keep it in ziplock sandwich bags and make sure that I squeeze all the air out.  It still works great after a month (homemade playdough usually lasts several months for me).  If it starts to get a bit dry just put some oil on your hands before playing with it.


Grape Juice


Blueberry Juice


Raspberry Juice



  1. Cream of tarter can be bought in bulk in some stores. I get ours at a mennonite run store and it's very inexpensive - under 4 dollars for about 2 cups. :-)

  2. Wow! I have never seen it that cheap. The places I have seen it in bulk is like $10+/lb (I pay that for my organic tea, LOL).
    In the grocery store it usually comes in a little bottle. I used the whole bottle to make all the playdough you see in the pictures. If I had been using as much as most of the recipes call for it would have taken 2 bottles, but the lesser amount worked fine.

  3. Man, you're making ALL OF US look bad Kelley. HAHA You're like mother of the year!!!

  4. This is amazing - a revelation!! I have never seen a recipe that included heating and it makes it soooo much better. Have just made orange stuff with paprika and the kids love it. Thanks Kelley!! :)



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