PHOTO: prints made from a lemon.

Fruit and Veggie Prints

Mealy apples, sprouted potatoes, and wilted celery, oh my! These may sound like candidates for the compost bin, but don’t toss them out just yet. Even if they aren’t fit for consumption, some fruits and veggies might be good for making prints! For younger children, this activity provides ample opportunity to practice color, fruit, and vegetable identification and hone their gross-motor skills. Older children may be interested to know that different foods come from different parts of the plant. Here is the recipe for a fun and educational activity that will foster creativity in children of all ages. 


Supply List: A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; sharp knife; cutting board; large, washable stamp pads or tempera paint; paper or plastic plate; and paper

Set-up time: 5 – 10 minutes

Activity Time: 10 minutes – 45 minutes

Appropriate for Ages: 2 and up

Clean-up Time: 5 minutes

Select a variety of fruits and vegetables for different sizes, shapes, and textures or for the plant part we eat.

  • Carrot – root
  • Celery – stem
  • Potato – tuber (a fleshy underground  stem)
  • Brussels sprout, cabbage – leaves
  • Broccoli – flower
  • Orange, lemon, pepper, apple – fruit
  • Corn on the cob – seeds

Using a large kitchen knife and cutting surface, cut the fruit and vegetables different ways to get different effects during stamping. Celery is the most versatile; you can create rosette, crescent moons, and lines from celery. Most other fruits and vegetables can be cut lengthwise and crosswise.

  • Tip: Make the cut as flat as possible to provide an even printing surface.

Provide a flat working surface, such as a kitchen countertop or patio table. Put out the fruit and vegetable stamps, paper, and nontoxic and water-based stamp pads or plastic plates with a thin layer of tempera paint. Press the stamp into the stamp pad or paint, then firmly press the stamp onto the paper. Younger children may focus more on the tactile experience of stamping, while older children may create a more cohesive design. 

  • Tip: It may take a few attempts before the stamp is appropriately saturated.
  • Tip: Young children love to mix colors together, so put out one color at a time if you don’t want this to happen.

After your prints dry, grab your crayons and markers to embellish them. You can even use fruit and vegetable printing to make your own wrapping paper and cards.   

PHOTO: prints made from a lemon.
Lemon prints!

Make fruit and veggie prints at  Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden Drop-in Activities from July 20 to 26.

For details about other drop-in activities and more fun for the family, go to

©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and

Published by

Julia McMahon

Julia McMahon is coordinator of family programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She teaches classes and facilitates drop-in programs for 2- to 10-year-olds and their families.

10 thoughts on “Fruit and Veggie Prints”

  1. Seems like such a great idea Julia! Just one question: can the fruit & veggies still be composted after being inked? Can you suggest “inks” that would work well for the art project and still be compostable? THANK YOU!

    1. Alyson, that’s a great question! The ink pads we use are non-toxic and water-based, which usually implies that in small amounts it is safe for remaining ink to be composted with/on your veggies. After all, if a small amount may be ingested by your toddler, it’s probably OK for a small amount to go in the compost. The same does not apply to the plastic and petroleum-based inkpads. If you are very concerned about environmental effects, you may wish to shop specifically for biodegradable inks. “Hero Arts” makes biodegradable ink pads you might find at a local craft store (call ahead!).

  2. If you used fresh fruit and a little sugar and kool-aid, then the colors would be safe to eat, also could be a cup of homemade orange-aid. If kids did not eat…just a thought.

  3. Julia’s a great idea … I am from Indonesia live in farm country … this article has made me regret all this time to throw the vegetables wilted because I find it very easy to get fresh vegetables.

    From now on I will use it in accordance with what you wrote.

    Many beetroot and sweet purple for the ink material ..

    I am very excited about this year’s holiday season by making the cap of the vegetables wilt

    thank you has been inspiring.

  4. Very interesting, considering the fruit in my area is very diverse. Let’s say mango, watermelon and so forth. Only, I have not understood what kind of ink can be used as compost? explanation please. Thank you

    1. Bio Spray MSI
      The original question was “can the fruits or veggies be composted after being stamped”? The ink we use is water-based and non-toxic. It should be safe in the relatively small amounts that will remain on the fruit or veggies you are composting. If this is not satisfactory feel free to use a biodegradable ink product.

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