Searching for a great finger-paint recipe: part 1

I’ve been seeing recipes for “edible finger paint” all over the internet recently, and I wanted to try some out.  I was interested in them mainly because Little O puts everything into his mouth and I knew the moment we started with paint he’d be eating it.  So I decided that edible finger paints were the way to go.

My criteria for a “great” recipe are as follows:

  1. The recipe must feel and act like paint (viscous and good color, especially after drying.)
  2. I wanted it to be edible, but since this is not the primary function, I didn’t want to encourage eating it.  So no sweetness.
  3. I wanted it to be easy to make.
  4. I didn’t want it to stain easily.

There are probably other criteria to consider, but these were my top four.  Yesterday Little O’s cousin came over and we made our first attempt.  We tried a simple corn starch and water recipe.

I decided to use vegetable dyes, because I thought these would be pretty easy to make and I was the most comfortable with these kind of dyes if Little O put any paint into his mouth. I just experimented with things that I already had in my kitchen.

20130501_112904

Clockwise from the top left:

  • green–food coloring
  • mauve–blueberries mixed with a few blackberries
  • red–beet juice
  • orange–beet juice mixed with turmeric
  • purple–purple sweet potato
  • yellow–turmeric

I was pleased with the colors–they were a little muted and not artificially bright, but dark enough to show up on the paper even after drying.  I did cheat on the green though.  I wanted to try using spinach but I didn’t have any, so I just used food coloring, and immediately regretted it.  Not only does the green look weird, but it was the only paint color that stained my fingers! I’ll definitely avoid food coloring in the future.

As you can probably see from the picture, the paints started to gel once they cooled.  I wished they stayed a bit more viscous.  The recipe was super easy, though, and the kids had fun.

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I’ll give the corn starch paint recipe 3 out of 4 stars since it did meet 3 of my four requirements, but I’ll keep looking.  If you’d like to try this recipe out, the paint and color recipes follow below.

Corn Starch Finger Paint

  • 1 cup corn starch, dissolved in water (enough to dissolve ALL the starch…no lumps)
  • 3 cups water

Place corn starch in a bowl.  Add enough lukewarm water to dissolve all of it and mix thoroughly.  Boil 3 cups of water in saucepan.  Remove from heat.  Add dissolved corn starch mixture and stir.  Replace mixture over heat, and continue to stir continuously until mixture thickens and turns translucent.  Divide into bowls and add dye until you like the color (more dye=more vibrant).  Mix thoroughly.

Vegetable Dyes

Basically you’ll want to take the source material (veggie or fruit) and simmer it with a little bit of water over low to medium heat until the plant material breaks down and the water becomes colored.  The longer you simmer, the more intense the color.  Just be careful not to simmer the water away.  Strain through a strainer and press all the juices out of the veggies/fruit.  I used a handful of berries or chopped veggies (1 tsp of the turmeric) to about 1/2 inch of water in a small saucepan.  If you are using canned beets (I did), just use the colored juice.

 

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