Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pioneer Skills: making ink from berries

Want to find out how to make your own ink using some basic, commonly found ingredients? You won't be able to refill your ballpoint or fountain pens with this ink, but find yourself a good quill pen and you'll be on your way. This makes for a great project to do with the kids.

Writing with a quill pen gives your handwriting an antiqued look, so it's great to use for invitations, art projects or for keepsakes. If you're real serious, you can also invest in a dipping pen, but the ink you make will need to be a little thicker. You can make your own quill pen from feathers by following these instructions or watching this video.

Most pioneers couldn't afford to buy ink, since true ink was fairly expensive, so they made their own using different ingredients depending on what color ink they needed. Some pioneers used not just berries, but powdered roots and nuts as well to create their ink. You can made different colored inks depending on which berry you use.

1/2 cup ripe berries (blueberries, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, elderberries, raspberries are good choices)
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place berries in a strainer and hold it over a bowl.

2. Crush the berries against the strainer so that the berry juice strains into the bowl.

3. Once all your berries are crushed and you are left with just pulp (to put in compost or use for something else!), add the vinegar and salt to the juice. The vinegar helps the ink retain its color and the salt prevents molding.

4. If the berry ink is too thick, thin it with water, adding a little at a time to get it to desired consistency.

5. Store in a baby food jar or a small canning jar and keep refrigerated.

Quill Thrill: Recipes for Homemade Ink
Recipes for Quill Pen Ink
Homemade Ink from Berries


LatigoLiz said...

I have a good supply of berries known for their historical staining qualities. Twinberry. Berries get ripe in summer. Let me know if you want to come pick some!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Ha! You temptress. I remember when you ran that berry guessing contest and I could not figure out what the heck they were.

thesimplepoppy said...

I'm going to do this with my kids this summer. Definitely a good project for another "Pioneer Week."

Sandy said...

This sounds like a good farm/art project for the Girl Scout troop that visits the farm. Thanks!

Catherine Anne said...

Great blog...