Beet Juice Playdough
THE FIRST TIME I MADE PLAYDOUGH FOR CHARLIE I was almost taken aback by how simple it was. It took less than 5 minutes, seriously, and the texture was so silky and soft! I had assumed, like most things, that it would take a little practice to get just right, but not so! As a parent who is pretty invested in natural, open-ended and creative toys, Charlie and I spend a lot of time making simple toys ourselves from materials we already have. And compounded by the fact that I try to approach parenting with a minimalist ethos—kids do not need more, more, more, in my opinion, and when new toys come in, others must go out.
Homemade kids' toys are the perfect solution for several reasons: one, because the kids can take pride that they were involved in the creation of it, and often the process is more fun than the end result; two, because the toys don't usually last forever, so by the time it's ready to be recyled, composted, or if need be, tossed out, the novelty has worn off; and three, it's really inexpensive.
This playdough is the perfect craft for toddlers. Charlie held all the measuring cups and spoons, she dumped all the ingredients into the bowl, and stirred it all up. I handled the bit that involved the stove, and within one minute it was ready for her to play with. I had made playdough in the past, and had varying success, until a Google search gave me the idea of using beet juice! Holy cow! It produced the most vibrant, almost surreal, shade, and Charlie was really digging it. She played with it throughout the day, and since we've made it she asks to play with it daily. Success!
Read on for the DIY below, you'll be amazed how simple it is. Full disclosure: this recipe is not my own creation, there are literally hundreds of recipes online, so reinventing the wheel seemed unecessary. This recipe is from one of my favourite blogs for kid's crafts, Mini Eco. She also shares several other suggestions for other colours, I'm going to try turmeric next! *NOTE: I've tried 3 or 4 different recipes, and so far this is my favourite. Recipes I've tried in the past contained so much salt your hands felt dry and crusty after a few minutes. This one is really nice and keeps well in a sealed container.
BEET JUICE DYE
- Chop up one medium sized beetroot and put in pan with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then gently simmer on stove for 10 minutes. Once cooled pour through sieve then follow playdough recipe below.
BEET JUICE PLAYDOUGH
(Makes 1 Baseball-Sized Ball of Playdough)
- ½ cup of flour
- ¼ cup of salt
- ½ tbsp cream of tartare
- ½ tbsp cooking oil
- ½ cup of dyed water
- In a medium sized saucepan, mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, mix and place on stove over medium-low heat.
- Mixing constantly, in fairly quick succession you should have a smooth paste, then as the flour starts to cook, it will gradually get thicker and stickier. It may stick slightly to sides and bottom of pan. When the consistency is fairly uniform and the dough sticks together, remove from heat (cooking time is approximately 1-3 minutes).
- Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth, approximately one minute. Allow to cool.
- Soak pan immediately in soapy water. Trust me, you do NOT want to have to remove dried on playdough!
*NOTE: I had a little bit of beet juice dye left over, so I whipped up a second batch of playdough, topped off the dye with water to equal half a cup, and used that to create a lighter shade of pink. Since little kids will invariably mix all the different colours of playdough, I find that using different shades of the same colour works well to avoid an unpleasant shade at the end of the day. A batch of undyed plain dough also works well.