It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Warning: Not for the Faint of Heart – Updated with Link

Playdough is a favourite activity round here. We have a basket filled with playdough toys – rollers and cookie cutters, plastic knives and garlic presses, and within this sits a plastic container of playdough. We don’t mess with those sissy teeny commercial pots, either. We make our playdough around here, and we make it in respectable quantities. Two cups at a time, generally, often a double batch for more. That’s one substantial lump o’dough.

The recipe I use is taken from the More With Less cookbook put out by the Mennonites. I’d give you all the publishing details, but my copy is so old and well-thumbed that its cover and initial pages have been loved right off it.

Mix together in bowl:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons alum

Heat to boiling:
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon oil
food colouring

Stir liquids into dry ingredients. Knead until smooth. (Since it will be HOT, I knead while wearing rubber gloves which I coat with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.) Store in an airtight container.

This stuff keeps for-EVER. Alum is a pickling spice, keeping things dry and preserved. Some people prefer not to use alum, in which case you may substitute cream of tartar, but I find it doesn’t work as well.

As long as we remember to keep the lid on when it’s not in use, one batch can last several months.

Unless, of course, someone decides to get even more creative than usual. No mere sausages and pancake sculpting for our mystery tot. Someone wanted dimension, someone wanted texture!

Someone poked chick peas into the playdough:

January 5, 2006 - Posted by | crafts, eeewww


  1. Ha! Now that is creative! Talk about an excellent science experiment. And thank you for the play doh recipe. I’ll have to try that…in a few years.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  2. Ew. It looks like diseased lungs.

    Comment by misfit | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  3. well it is Non-Toxic Homer…


    Comment by Aginoth | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  4. Are you sure someone didn’t pull that out of the back of my refrigerator?

    My grandma used to make us play dough–hers had alum in it too! It was better than the commercial kind, but it didn’t have that distinctive scent.

    Comment by Sharkey | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  5. You’re growing penicillin! (At least, that’s what I tell my wife when she finds something of mine that looks very similar to your play doh in the back of the fridge).

    Comment by Matthew | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  6. Crayonz: Wise to wait at least a year. At Lauren’s age, they mostly just try to eat the stuff, and then scream at you in OUTRAGE for feeding them this awful, awful stuff!

    Misfit: You’re right! It does! Bwah-hahahahahaha…

    Aginoth: Well, it’s non-toxic (though vilely salty) when it’s fresh; with all this mold all over it? Homer’s welcome to it: I wouldn’t be wanting to eat the stuff.

    Sharkey: Someone I know puts jello powder in hers. This makes it smell fruity and nice, fruity and nice and good enough to eat!!! As we’ve already established, it tastes vile. So of course they, with much screeching, spit it out. It’s way, way grosser on the return trip: It goes in as playdough, it comes out as slime. Eeewww…

    Matthew: Penicillin. Yup. That’s what it is, all right! Chick peas are known producers of penicillin!

    Comment by Mary P. | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  7. Mary P! I though you were having Blogger problems. Your post is waaaaay at the bottom of your page. I’ve been obsessively checking your site to see if you came back, and just now thought to scroll far, far down. I found you, and want you back at the top. I’m very sentimental.

    BTW, I too make my own playdough, but use a simple recipe: 3 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water. Secret: I like to eat it. In small amounts. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

    Comment by Andie D. | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  8. It looks normal to me. Hmmm…

    Secret: When I was a kid, I used to eat salt. Just salt. Would sprinkle it into my hand and eat it. I stopped when I was in my teens. Horrifically unhealthy, I’m sure, but has to be better than my adult vice: a handful of salt and a pound of fat, aka potato chips…

    Comment by Mary P. | January 6, 2006 | Reply

  9. Mary, you make a good point! My daughter tries to shake the salt directly from the shaker into her mouth. I keep telling her it’s bad for her and take it away.

    And then I let her eat potato chips! Maybe I’ll just hand the salt shaker back…

    Comment by LoryKC | January 6, 2006 | Reply

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