Since recently sharing out tips from the gardening section of Mom’s cookbook I’ve realized that you never know where a surprise might be hiding in her treasure chest of recipes. This recipe had no name but reading the instructions peeked my curiosity so I decided to dive in deep and make it.
I didn’t know what “bluing” was but after a few quick online clicks I landed at this site that solved the mystery. We’re gonna make our own magic crystal garden!
Flashback Fun Days
Back in my day, “fun” wouldn’t have cut it by today’s standards.
My rock tumbler was about as much fun as watching paint dry or what’s even more exciting … watching a real rock sit still. Don’t even get me started about Pet Rocks. My G.I. Joe helicopter was attached to its clunky battery pack with a wire, not bluetooth. #NoRealFun. Board games were pretty much that – boring! There were days when it seemed like sitting and staring at the sun was just as fun, just as Grumpy Old Man would say! Let’s have a laugh:
There were a few truly fun things that broke through the mundane sea of insanity. In walks magical fun with the likes of Sea Monkeys, Ant Farms and the super melty fun of Shrinky Dinks – these were some of my childhood favorites.
I do remember seeing my first crystal garden – it wasn’t mine but it was just as cool.
I read on Mrs. Stewart’s liquid bluing website that making salt gardens became popular during the Great Depression. So much so the creations are often referred to as a depression flower or a coal garden. Good times! Let’s get to crystal gardening!
❤ You’ll want to secure your bluing before making this garden. It was hard to find it here in Austin so I wound up ordering a 3-pack via Amazon … or you can order it directly from Mrs. Stewart’s website. I’m going to give it a “go” in the laundry as well!
❤ While Mom’s original recipe calls for brick or clay pot, you can use anything porous including coal, coke (fuel), charcoal, or pieces of sponge. I decided to go the clay pot route and thought I’d try my hand at fashioning a faux cake out of a mini pot and saucer I found. So I didn’t need the sponge cut into 4 pieces noted below, which were used for blotting.
❤ Do not use metal or tin containers – Do use glass or plastic!
various | pieces of brick, clay pot, or sponge (anything porous)
1 | sponge, cut into 4 pieces (optional – see tip above)
assorted colors | food coloring
4 tablespoons | bluing
4 tablespoons | ammonia
4 tablespoons | distilled water
4 tablespoons | iodized salt
1 | glass or plastic bowl – the flatter the easier to enjoy
ii. what to do
Step 1. If you’re using brick, blot it with a sponge to clean it. Otherwise, skip to Step 2.
Step 2. Drop food coloring onto your base – this will create the colors!
Step 3. Mix together the bluing, ammonia and distilled water to make your solution. Pour this solution over your base material. Sprinkle your creation with salt. Mom’s recipe said it would take 6 hours to grow but I saw results in about 20 minutes.
Step 4. To keep your garden growing you can add a little more ammonia. I read on Mrs. Stewart’s website to add more of the food coloring, solution and salt on Day 3, but experiment and adjust to your preference.
Next time I’m going to use plain ammonia instead of lemon-scented ammonia which is all I could find at HEB. My crystal garden cupcake was a little “flat” side. I’ll make sure and post updated pictures! I hope you enjoy making your own garden as much as I did!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook