How to tie-dye with natural dyes

June 26, 2020 by  
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The tie-dye look was once incredibly trendy. Then, it became retro. Now, it’s classic. Tie-dye is fun, bright and colorful, and when you don’t know what to match with what or which piece should go with another, tie-dye is the perfect solution. But if you work with chemical dyes, you’re going to end up inhaling fumes and possibly exposing yourself to dangerous toxins. Use natural dyes for tie-dye projects instead, and then you can also have fun simply making the dyes before you even begin making all of your beautiful tie-dye items. Making natural dye No matter what vegetables you’re using, you’ll need to assemble some basic tools to start making your own dyes. Get a knife for chopping, a cheesecloth for straining and a couple of large bowls. You’ll also want measuring cups and standard table salt. Make sure you’ve got a good blender, too. This is the main item you’ll use for turning vegetables, berries and plant waste into bright, beautiful dyes. Related: A guide to the best plants for dyeing fabric and fibers naturally Once you know the method for making dye , you can make just about any color of dye you like. First, get some latex gloves that give you good flexibility. You may end up staining your fingers while you’re making dye if you choose not to wear gloves. Either way, make sure you’ve got clean hands and good knife skills when you chop up your veggies, berries and other plant products. Assemble your ingredients on a cutting board, get your knife and go to work hacking up all those items. After you chop up your raw ingredients into manageable pieces, put about two cups of chopped veggies into a blender with two cups of very hot water. The water should be near boiling, but not boiling. Blend the vegetables and water until you create a slurry. This slurry can be strained through a cheesecloth into a clean bowl. Add one tablespoon of salt to the mixture and stir it thoroughly until the salt dissolves. Making different colors This process of chopping vegetables and straining them can be used for veggies in any color to create all sorts of different shades of natural dye. To make red, try beets. If you want purple, add some red cabbage to the beets to make the color richer. You can also use herbs rather than vegetables, if they have a color shade you like. Parsley, for example, makes a lovely deep green color when you use this method. Turmeric and plants in the mint family make beautiful yellow and light green dyes. If you want a color that’s more golden, try dandelions. Blueberries are very effective for creating blue. If you are looking to make brown, try using tea or coffee grounds. Carrots make a gorgeous orange color. Once you start experimenting with various berries, herbs and vegetables, there’s no limit to the different color shades you can create with items you can get at the local farmers market . Natural dyes existed for thousands of years before synthetic dyes came along. Civilizations throughout history used natural dyes to create gorgeous color shades. You can do the same and create your own eco-friendly dyes right in your own kitchen. Start saving vegetable peels, rinds, skins and other waste materials to start making dyes. After all, not everything has to go straight in the compost bin. Tie-dying Tie-dye is pretty ubiquitous, but not everyone actually knows how to do it. You can create a pretty big mess and cause yourself a lot of frustration if you don’t understand the process. But once you do, tie-dying is like riding a bike. You’ll be equipped with the skills to tie-dye for life. Before you dye your clothing, mix one cup of salt with 16 cups of water and four cups of vinegar and bring the solution to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the fabric in this salty water for one hour. Run the fabric under cold water and wring it out after it has simmered long enough. Bunch a portion of the fabric in your hand, give it a little twist and put a rubber band around it. Do this as many times as you’d like, whether you want one bunched portion or several. Now, you can soak your material in the dye you made until it turns the shade you want. Do this for all of the colors you want to include in your design. For easier dying, you can also pour your homemade natural dyes into bottles to squirt or pour the dye on the fabric as desired. Carefully cut off the rubber bands and line-dry your fabric after it has been dyed. You’ll have to use very gentle detergent or hand-wash your tie-dyed items, because the color will fade more quickly than synthetic dyes. Luckily, if you do need to brighten your tie-dyed fabrics in the future, you can easily do so with natural dyes. Images via Oct Snow , Yuha Park , Deborah Lee Soltesz and Suzanne

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How to tie-dye with natural dyes

Go Ahead, Unroll These Unique Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

June 12, 2020 by  
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We’ve all got them — toilet paper rolls. An eco-friendly … The post Go Ahead, Unroll These Unique Toilet Paper Roll Crafts appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Go Ahead, Unroll These Unique Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

How To Create a Rain Garden

June 9, 2020 by  
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In natural landscapes, rainwater and snowmelt filter down into the … The post How To Create a Rain Garden appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How To Create a Rain Garden

3D Printing: Sustainability, Recycling, and Home Use

June 9, 2020 by  
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3D Printing: Sustainability, Recycling, and Home Use

We Earthlings: Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

June 9, 2020 by  
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What’s an easy way to reduce your home’s carbon footprint? … The post We Earthlings: Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May 5, 2020 by  
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Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

50 DIY Natural Handmade Beauty Products That Make Great Gifts

May 4, 2020 by  
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Are you shopping for a Mother’s Day gift? Or Father’s … The post 50 DIY Natural Handmade Beauty Products That Make Great Gifts appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Should you make sourdough starter?

April 27, 2020 by  
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Because the pandemic has ushered in a back-to-the-kitchen movement, social media is filled with gorgeous, professional-looking loaves of sourdough bread. Is it easy to make a sourdough starter? Should you jump on the sourdough bandwagon? Here’s what you need to know about making a sourdough starter. Initial reservations Making sourdough starter has one big advantage. It only requires two ingredients: flour and water. It’s like magic, how these two ingredients , plus time, can produce yeast. Really, it’s more like science. As it says on the King Arthur Flour website, “Wild yeast is in the air around us. It settles on kitchen work surfaces and in your ingredients, including flour. Add liquid to flour, and this wild yeast is activated and starts to produce carbon dioxide bubbles. This growing army of gas bubbles, effectively trapped by gluten within the dough, are what ultimately make sourdough bread rise.” Related: How to bake bread Together, the yeast and lactobacilli form a harmonious symbiotic relationship right on your countertop. Making your own yeast out of thin air is especially popular now, since the yeast supply chain has dried up as the pandemic turns us into a nation of home bakers. But as I read online guidance about how to create my starter, I had some reservations. First, I don’t have filtered water. I drink good ol’ Oregon tap water that has some small amount of chlorine , which isn’t good for sourdough starter. Second, my online sources advised keeping the starter at room temperature, which they claimed was 70 degrees. Not in my house, which currently ranges between the upper 50s and low 60s. My third reservation was that you must constantly “feed” the starter with flour, each time discarding much of the starter. In the name of science (and this article), I endeavored to persevere. The starter would just have to deal with my water. Next, the temperature. The King Arthur Flour website advised those living in cooler houses to “try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Your turned-off oven — with the light turned on — is also a good choice.” It was just too creepy to put the starter on the water heater in my dungeon-like basement, and no way am I leaving my oven light on for a week. We’re also trying to conserve energy , here! So the fridge it was. Unfortunately, the top of my fridge doesn’t seem any warmer than the rest of the house. How to make your own sourdough starter The process for making sourdough starter is quite simple. It is also perfect for sheltering in place, because starter likes a regular schedule. Though I consulted many websites, I decided to go with King Arthur as my guru. It has a five-day program to turn your flour and water into sourdough starter. On day one, you combine one cup of pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with one-half cup water in a non-reactive container with at least one-quart capacity. This means crockery, glass, stainless steel or food-grade plastic. I used a blue plastic mixing bowl. Unfortunately, I only had all-purpose flour, so I used that. This isn’t the time to be running out to the shop for one ingredient, right? You mix your flour and water until you can’t see any flour. Use cool water if your house is warm or warm water if your house is cool. Cover loosely with a kitchen cloth and set the starter somewhere warm. On day two, discard half the starter (or save that for a recipe to reduce food waste). Add a cup of all-purpose flour and one-half cup of water to the remainder. Stir well, re-cover and return the starter to its warm spot. By day three, your starter is supposed to start bubbling and increasing in size. Its appetite soars, and it demands two flour feedings a day, spaced 12 hours apart. Each time you feed, you must reduce the starter to about one-half cup before adding the new flour and water. Sometime after day five, the starter is supposed to be very lively and will have doubled in size. “You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little ‘rivulets’ on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering,” according to King Arthur. Now, your starter is ready to become sourdough bread. You’ll use some in the bread recipe and keep the rest in your fridge, where it needs to be fed once a week and used for future loaves. You might want to name your starter — it could be around for a long time. The famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco is still using the yeast Isidore Boudin collected in 1849. Hardcore bread lover Seamus Blackley, with the help of an Egyptologist and a microbiologist, managed to collect 4,500-year-old yeast off ancient Egyptian pottery for his loaves. So treat your starter well. Cooking with sourdough starter discard What is the reality of joining this long line of sourdough bakers ? Is it as romantic as it sounds? You might spend a lot of time asking yourself if your sourdough is really bubbling yet, whether it’s supposed to smell this way and what on earth are you going to do with all the discarded starter, especially as you move onto feeding and discarding twice a day. Related: Bakers yeast and sourdough starter — it looks alive to me! The first day, I added some starter discard to a regular cornbread recipe, pretending it was just more flour. It was a little hard to stir in, but for the most part, it worked out okay. My most successful dish was vegan sourdough pancakes, which involved following this recipe from Food52 and stirring in a ripe banana. They tasted more like delicious flat donuts than pancakes. My low point came when I tried to fashion a flatbread out of starter. The stomachache-inducing flatbreads wouldn’t cook all the way through. As I made my fifth attempt, my back aching, smoke alarm screeching and my husband and quarantine-mate sniping at my starter — “That (bleep) is like (bleeping) glue!” — I realized it was not the lifestyle moment those Instagram bakers had promised. The main event: sourdough bread All this feeding the starter eventually leads to making delicious sourdough bread. Theoretically. “When your starter has doubled in size, you see bubbles breaking on the surface, and it feels somewhat elastic to the touch, it’s ready to bake with,” King Arthur explained. But woe to us in cold houses. As I read down to the comments section, another cool-home dweller said his took two weeks to bubble sufficiently! Meanwhile, my starter has eaten nearly all of my flour, so there won’t even be enough to bake a loaf with. At press time, I’m trying to decide between A) trying my luck with my prepubescent starter and remaining flour to make a mini loaf, B) aborting the mission and turning all the starter into pancakes or C) throwing it all in the compost . A more persistent soul could add option D) going to the store and buying more flour to see the process through. Another option? Try making a “mini starter” , which requires much less flour but also takes longer to yield enough discard to make anything. But let’s assume you’re in a warmer house and have a bubbly, delightful starter. Now you’re in for a long process of kneading, folding, autolyzing (letting your dough rest), watching like a hawk for sufficient rising and eventually baking a delicious loaf. Best of luck to you. Here’s the Clever Carrot’s guide to that multistep process. The verdict I was not sufficiently committed to sacrificing all my flour to the voracious starter, nor did I have the right container. I thought all those upright glass vessels that look like vases were just for show on social media. As it turns out, they help you watch the starter. Maybe mine doubled in size and dropped back down when I wasn’t looking. Who knows? It’s in an opaque bowl atop the fridge covered with a tea towel. This experiment will also tell you more about what kind of person you are, if you don’t already know. Good candidates for making starter include people who love being in the kitchen, who take pride in their cooking or who have kids at home that enjoy culinary science experiments. If you cannot commit to your sourdough starter, it could just lead to a lot of food waste . Some of us lack the patience and interest. For the last 15 years, whenever I wanted a quick bread fix, I’ve made baking powder biscuits from a recipe in PETA’s The Compassionate Cook. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. My slightly more ambitious bread-making friend swears by this no-knead bread recipe . These might be better options if you don’t feel confident in working on a sourdough starter. The biggest thing I learned from making my own starter is how lucky I am that Trader Joe’s sells sourdough loaves for $3.99. Even my neighborhood boutique bakery that charges $7 or $8 a loaf seems like a bargain now. If you’re like me, you can consider making sourdough starter an exercise in bread appreciation. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat, Tommaso Urli , Thomas Bock , Oscar S , Richard Klasovsky

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Should you make sourdough starter?

Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes

April 2, 2020 by  
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What are five areas for quick changes in your carbon … The post Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #83: Five Sustainability Changes

The Complete Guide to Earth Day 2020

April 2, 2020 by  
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Earth Day celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 22, 2020. … The post The Complete Guide to Earth Day 2020 appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Complete Guide to Earth Day 2020

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