How to Make Homemade Paste

I have a pot heating on the stove, but I don’t think I want to eat what’s in it. I’m making homemade wheat paste.

(Okay, okay it is edible, but it’s nothing you want to bring to your next pot luck.)

Wheat paste is wonderful for paper craft projects.

The best part is that it is:

  • nontoxic
  • archival
  • reversible (it will come apart with water)
  • you can whip up a batch just 20 minutes using ingredients you probably already have in you kitchen and
  • you can even paint with it!

There are some recipes out on the web, but my favorite was taught to me by my book arts teacher in college.  This is a variation on the recipe.

It’s super easy to make, but there is an art to making it.

Throw some flour and water together, and what you’ll get is… flour and water. Heat it up for a few minutes, and you’ll get warm flour and water… yuck.

Here’s how to make smooth and sticky paste that you can use with paper crafts, paper mache, paper clay (see my tutorial on making paper clay)… the list goes on:

How to Make Homemade Wheat Paste

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup wheat flour  (Cake or Rice flour work great, too.  Don’t use self-rising flour – too many extra things in it.)
  • 2 cups cold water

Directions

  1. Pour the wheat flour into a sauce pan.
  2. Add a little bit of the water, stirring constantly with a fork or a whisk.  I have found that adding the water to the flour (rather than the flour to the water) reduces lumps.  You want this as smooth as possible from the beginning.
  3. Slowly add the rest of the water, stirring constantly.  It should be like a thin slurry.
  4. Turn the stove on to medium heat.
  5. Stir the flour and water mixture constantly.  It will thicken as it heats. You want the heat evenly distributed so that the paste doesn’t burn.  Don’t let the mixture boil.
  6. Here’s the most important part:   Keep stirring over medium to low heat.  You want the heat to actually burst the tiny starch granules. You won’t actually see them bursting, but it will change the consistency of the paste. Heating the paste will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.  Once the paste has become translucent and a little bit harder to stir it is finished cooking. Turn off the heat and let it cool down.

Paste with SpoonHow do I know if when the wheat paste is done?  The color of the paste will change. It will go from being white opaque goo to a slightly thicker translucent grayish color.  This means that it is now sticky wheat paste.  Also, when it has cooled, if you rub it between your fingers, it will feel slimy and smooth.

What if I have lumpy paste?  If you find you have lumps, let the paste cool and then strain through cheesecloth.  Or you can pour the hot slurry through a thin strainer to catch bigger lumps.

How long will wheat paste last?  I usually store mine in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

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