Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Homemade play dough
After I found out that there can be some nasty chemicals (including Borax which is toxic) in commercial play-doh, and also knowing that kids loooove to eat the stuff, I decided that it would be best if I made all of the Llama's play dough from scratch.
Searching the web it didn't look all that difficult, all the recipes had the same five or so ingredients (salt, water, flour, cream of tartar, oil), and they were all relatively cheap and easy to get. But the ratios of those ingredients varied widely from recipe to recipe. So I started experimenting.
I started with this recipe, halved.
It barely fit into our larger sauce pan, and came out really oily, whenever we used it the table and our hands were really greasy afterwards.
Then I went looking again, I found many other recipes but none really looked just right, I wanted something with a large amount of salt to keep it as un-tasty as possible, enough oil to keep it 'moist' and workable but not so much to turn us into grease monsters, and small enough to fit in our pot.
I eventually ended up with this recipe:
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c water
2/3 c salt
1 Tbsp cream of tartar*
2 Tbsp oil
Mix salt, water and cream of tartar in a pan and bring to a simmer.
Add oil, then sifted flour and stir until it comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Turn out onto the counter and carefully pat out to maximize cooling.
When dough is cool enough to handle, kneed the dough until it forms a nice smooth dough.
Knead in food color and have fun!
* Cream of tartar is an acid and is used to somehow interact with the gluten in the flour to prevent the dough from turning into a hard rubber ball or into a pile of slime. 3 Tbsp white vinegar can be substituted, but beware that the resulting dough will smell quite strongly for a while.
if you plan on making a lot of this, be sure to buy your cream of tartar at a food co-op or bulk store, because the tiny jars from the supermarket are incredibly over priced.
We've had both batches sitting on the counter in freezer bags for over a week. we take them out every day or so to play with them and they are still in good shape. I also tried storing some in an old peanut butter jar and that one seems to be faring just as well as the others. The web sites I've been reading say that the home made play dough can last several months. But really, who can wait that long before wanting to make another batch? I think next time I'll split the batch into thirds and make each one a different color, and I can store them in all the old peanut butter jars we've been saving.