Dandelions are a telltale sign that spring has truly arrived. This common “weed” is one of nature’s wonderful gifts to pollinators and insects in the spring. In fact, it’s only been recent that dandelions have been viewed as weeds. For the longest time they were a welcomed flower and people would make space in their yards for them to grow!
Dandelions have been loved for centuries because of their many uses. They are edible from flower to root and are packed full of nutrients. The root can be made into a type of coffee, the greens can be eaten fresh in salads and the flowers baked into delicious cakes and cookies like my Dandelion Flower Butter Cookies. And it doesn’t stop there! Dandelions can be weaved into flower crowns, used in art projects and made into the loveliest buttery yellow play dough for little hands to play with.
Creating naturally dyed dandelion play dough is not the most intuitive project. Simply adding dandelion petals to a play dough recipe only adds specs of yellow throughout the dough. It’s pretty but not buttery yellow. Boiling the flowers to make a dye doesn’t work either. The trick is blending the flowers in a food processor (or blender) with hot water and adding one very important ingredient: lemon juice! Lemon juice prevents the dandelion flowers from oxidizing during the blending process. This allows the flowers to get thoroughly blended, getting all that lovely yellow dye to come out, without causing the dye to turn brownish.
Picking dandelion flowers
Dandelions are one of honeybees’ first spring flowers for gathering nectar and pollen. A good rule of thumb is to harvest one dandelion for every ten blooming.
Another things to keep in mind is to avoid picking dandelions from areas that have been sprayed by herbicides or pesticides, along busy roadways or highly trafficked areas.
Plucking dandelion flowers
When it comes to plucking the dandelion petal, I find it easiest to pluck them from dry flowers. Wet flowers, either from rain, sprinklers or washing, causes the petals to stick on your fingers making it a messy and frustrating task. If you find dandelion flowers from a relatively clean area don’t bother washing them. Or, if you must wash them, let them air dry a little before plucking the petals.
Naturally Dyed Dandelion Play Dough
- Blender or food processor
- Medium pot
- 2 cups Dandelion flowers, plucked
- 1 cup Hot water
- 1/4 cup Lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup Flour
- 2/3 cup Salt, fine
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Oil
- 2 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
- 2 Tbsp. Dandelion flowers, plucked (optional but pretty)
- In a blender or food processor add your plucked dandelion flower petals, lemon juice and hot water and blend on high for 30 seconds (or longer) or until thoroughly blended.
- In a medium sauce pot add the flour, salt, oil and cream of tartar and mix together.
- Add the blended dandelion flower mixture and additional dandelion flower petals (optional but pretty) into the pot and stir with a wooden spoon. It's alright if the mixtures looks lumpy and gooey at this point.
- Place the pot on the stovetop on medium heat.
- Stir the mixture constantly until the heat cooks the play dough into a smooth consistency. This process only takes about five minutes. By the end the dough should come together and be a nice big ball of dough. It should look and feel like play dough.
- Take the ball of play dough out of the pot and let cool for a few minutes and then knead the dough together.
- Store in a container or plastic bag to prevent the dough from drying out. The play dough can be kept at room temperature or in the fridge and should last for at least one month or longer.