Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Longer Lasting Homemade Play Dough?

I was making play dough tonight, to use for our story and art project, to be linked with tomorrows stART post, on A Mommy's Adventures. For the last few years, I've used a non-cooked salt dough recipe, owing largely to a lack of cream of tarter in the house. It's a simple, straight forward recipe, using ingredients I normally have on hand, and it creates a dough with a nice texture, even if the salt is hard on the hands.

The only problem with the salt dough recipe is that it doesn't keep well. When made on a humid day, it will often be too sticky to play with, even after one night of storage. Which means, every time the children want to play with play dough, I either have to run to the store to buy a new batch, to replace our dried out store bought dough, or I have to mix a new batch in the kitchen, and throw the old, slimy, homemade stuff away.

Since I wanted to make this play dough tonight, and not use it until tomorrow, I Googled, "long lasting play dough". I realized after looking over a few recipes, they were the same old cooked recipe, I used to always make, before I stumbled on the salt dough recipe.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 tablespoons cream of tarter
  • 2 cups of water
  • food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together, until smooth. Divide into portions, according the the number of colors desired. Add several drops of food coloring to each portion, and cook each separately, in a small pan, over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, and becomes rubbery. Remove from heat, and knead until smooth. Store in an air tight container, or Ziploc back.

Tonight, I actually had some cream of tarter on hand, so I decided to go back to the tried, and true - with one modification. I read somewhere along the way, that this recipe could be microwaved, and that sounded interesting to me.

So, I mixed the dough...

...divided it into six bowls, and added color...

...microwaved each bowl for 50 seconds, stirring it midway through. Then, I dumped it out...

...and kneaded it until smooth.

Right away, I can say I like the feel of this play dough better than the uncooked type. It is firmer, and smoother, and more like the real thing. I'm also very happy with the way the colors brightened during cooking. And I had forgotten how much nicer it is to be able to add the color, and mix it in with a spoon, instead of kneading it in by hand, ending up with stained fingers.

But, I'm not sure I'm sold on using the microwave. It cooks unevenly, and tends to harden the edges, before the middle of the dough is done, leaving some hard spots, that have to be pulled out of the dough, and discarded.

Of course, there is the down side of price, as well. Unless your getting some sort of wonderful bulk discount, the price of cream of tarter, mixed with the cost of food coloring, makes this an expensive recipe. It might be more cost effective to just buy the play dough from the store. But then, I know what's in this dough, so I won't worry when the two year old we watch, takes a bite or two, as two year olds inevitably will.

The real question is will this dough keep...but you'll have to come back for that answer, or at least part of it, tomorrow. It's been probably almost a decade, since I last used this recipe, so my memory is fuzzy. But, I know I was surprised the first time I made salt dough ahead of time, and found it too sticky to use, when I wanted it. So, it's possible this cooked dough does last longer. Time will tell.

For now, it's great to be a homeschooler.


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Your new playdoh looks brilliant. I have to say that while making a salt no-cook playdoh was fun, playing with it was not. It was as you described - slimy and sticky. We were both disappointed. But I still have no idea where to buy cream of tartar - I haven't seen it in our spices department.

EmbeeArqam said...

I wonder how refrigerating would effect this recipe?

In either case, the colours look vibrant and i hope it turns out good. i'll drop by again to find out.

Unknown said...

I have never seen play dough made this way before- I do believe we will have to give this a go sometime soon...

Unknown said...

To "Raising Happy Child":

They really don't have cream of tartar in your cooking section? WOW! We couldn't live without it here- we use it for our Snickerdoodles!

Ticia said...

That does look great, someday I will actually make playdough. I have this weird hangup about it.

~jan said...

I love the colors of your playdoh, beautifully bright. I have not used mixtures of food coloring to get such colors, I have always omitted the food coloring and used one package of kool-aid to give it color and scent. Maybe if I added a little coloring as well, it would be brighter like yours. Thanks for sharing all your creativity.

Anonymous said...

We use this recipe too, and will have to try the trick of cooking the color in to make it brighter. I always make it in a pot (not the microwave...) just stir it all together in the pot while it cooks until it comes away from the side of the pot. Would solve the uneven cook time.

It lasts for months. our last batch has been around since last August. :)

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

Jon (10) says he wants to make this recipe tomorrow, I printed it out. Thanks!