Kitchen Crafts: Lilliana’s Naturally Dyed Playdough

You can make your own playdough out of items you probably have in your pantry, but without leaving your kitchen you can also give your playdough a palette of pretty, earthy hues. Lilliana, a friend of a friend, whipped up this  lovely playdough on a recent play day. Such fun and just the tip if the iceberg. Scour your pantry and garden and see what you can come up with to make your own playdough rainbow.

Basic Playdough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup liquid dye
  • 1/2 Tbl vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  1. Place all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Heat, stirring constantly until dough pulls away from the side of the pan and a ball forms. Approximately 3-5 minutes.
  3. Lightly flour your counter top and remove warm dough from pan. When cool enough to handle, knead it until smooth. Knead on a cutting board or baking sheet if you’re worried about staining your counter top.
  4. Keep in an airtight container. It will probably last longer in the refrigerator. If the playdough gets a little dry, you can try to revive it by sprinkling it with a few drops of water and kneading. If it gets too wet, knead on a lighly floured surface.
Natural Dyes (use as the liquid in the basic recipe)
  • Colorful juices: cherry, pomegranate, blueberry
  • Chopped, simmered and strained fruits and vegetables: blueberry, beet, raspberry, red cabbage, cherry, strawberry
  • Spices or teas steeped in hot water (strain as needed): tumeric, paprika, cocoa powder, coffee, rose hips tea, rose petals

Not natural, but colorful and non-toxic…

Another way to add a zing of color is to dye water in the basic recipe with powdered jello, kool-aid or tempera paint (available at art stores).

Bake your masterpiece!

If you create something worth keeping, cook your creation on a foil lined baking sheet at 300 degrees for an hour. You may need to bake it a little bit longer depending on the thickness of the dough. When it’s cool and hardened decorate it with paint and use a non-toxic sealer like modge podge to give your piece a nice finish. If your making something to hang, remember to poke a hole before baking it.

Sea Salt and Rosemary

I’m forever jotting things down, especially on vacation, and most especially when I’ve come across something tasty. A beachside lunch during a trip to Sardinia a few years back yielded this page in my notebook. A pinch of sea salt and rosemary would be good on a whole lot of things and now I may finally get around to putting some together for my pantry.

It’s also a fun mini project to do with someone small. Pick some rosemary (in our climate it grows everywhere!) & let it dry for a few days. Then let the little one break it up and mix with sea salt. Grab your funnel and scoop it all into a salt mill. Voila! I’ll probably also have my son help me draw a label and customize some cute little jars so that we can share with friends.

I know Luca will like helping with this one, and I will enjoy having this on hand when I roast meat or veg or to sprinkle on soup or pasta. While we’re at it we’ll probably make up some of Michael Chiarello’s divine Fennel Spice mix. It’s a must-have in our pantry and we’re nearly out. Do you have any favorite customized spice mixes? Let me know!