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Pokeberry Ink


fiberdrunk
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Pokeberries have begun to ripen here in North Carolina, so that means ink-making has begun once again! I've blogged about it here, including recipe and photos. I'm currently testing the ink in an eyedropper-converted Platinum Preppy Marker. Will keep you posted with how well the ink does in this pen. I've also used this ink with the J. Herbin Glass Pen, with even better results.

 

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6132/6034316178_4356100709_b.jpg

 

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6080/6034044856_0e7ea0c1f5_b.jpg

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Not really a color I would use, but looks great! The ingredients on the label include vinegar and salt? What function to they serve?

 

And of course we need to see water-resistance tests, and maybe light-fastness! Please? :thumbup:

"... for even though the multitude may be utterly deceived, subsequently it usually hates those who have led it to do anything improper." Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, XXVIII:3 Loeb Edition

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Not really a color I would use, but looks great! The ingredients on the label include vinegar and salt? What function to they serve?

 

And of course we need to see water-resistance tests, and maybe light-fastness! Please? :thumbup:

 

The salt and vinegar are to preserve the ink and fix the color. There was another thread awhile back where someone used a fermented pokeberry recipe instead, but I found the color changed even more rapidly with that method. But it is another option.

 

I can tell you from my past tests that this is a highly fugitive, non-permanent ink. It has very little water resistance. There was significant fading after only one day in the sun, and by the third day the writing sample had disappeared all together. Ink samples I made last year that I stored in a cool, dark room have already shown some fading, despite being in the dark, though they have remained pink and have not browned yet. The letters that survive from Colonial times show that this ink browns with age. The ink doesn't store well in the bottle, either. The batches I made last year have lost some of their pinkness. So I recommend only making enough ink to last you one season, and enjoy its bright color while you can today.

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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that's awesome! love it from the glass pen.

 

Thanks!

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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The colour from the glass pen is really nice. Can you preserve the ink longer by putting it in the fridge?

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The colour from the glass pen is really nice. Can you preserve the ink longer by putting it in the fridge?

 

Hmmm... I supposed I could try that this year, with the new batch, to see if it helps. The room I store my ink in is pretty cool, though. It stays in the high 60's F in the summer and the 40's or 50's F in the winter. I converted that room to a darkroom for photography many years ago, so it just stays cooler because I sealed off all the windows and such.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Hi Fiberdrunk,

 

Why don't you use clove essential oil to preserve the ink ? It is completely natural and safe. Another trick to preserve the colour of your ink is to ad gum arabic to it and also by adding some alumen (potassium aluminium sulphate crystals). It acidifies the ink a will keep the ink being a nice pinkish red and the metal ions will chelate the colour giving anthocyanic compunds and thus to fix the colour. I think the writing will not fade as fast if you ad a pinch of alumen to it. Adding salt to the ink is actually not a good idea both as would-be preservative and also because it tends to crust the pen.

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Hi Fiberdrunk,

 

Why don't you use clove essential oil to preserve the ink ? It is completely natural and safe. Another trick to preserve the colour of your ink is to ad gum arabic to it and also by adding some alumen (potassium aluminium sulphate crystals). It acidifies the ink a will keep the ink being a nice pinkish red and the metal ions will chelate the colour giving anthocyanic compunds and thus to fix the colour. I think the writing will not fade as fast if you ad a pinch of alumen to it. Adding salt to the ink is actually not a good idea both as would-be preservative and also because it tends to crust the pen.

 

Thank you for the tip! I'll have to see if I'm able to obtain alumen. That would definitely be worth trying. Thanks!

 

ETA: Is alumen also called alum... the same stuff you pickle cucumbers with?

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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I love peeking over the shoulders of you homemade ink makers! Thanks for the pics and the link to your blog.

 

Ryan.

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The batches I made last year have lost some of their pinkness. So I recommend only making enough ink to last you one season, and enjoy its bright color while you can today.

Aw, shucks. I just realized my bottle of pokeberries is now a year old. I never did use it, other than a quick dip stick test scribble. I'll have to squish them and decant into a permanent bottle...eventually...

 

I have some shaving alum, maybe I'll try that to preserve the color a bit.

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Alumen is the latin name (sorry: I am a pharmacist and I often use latin names for chemicals) of alum. Half a teaspoon of it should be enough for 1 pint of ink. The amount depends on the concentration of the ink. Please note: alum tends to precipitate proteins, but I do not think there is any protein in pokeberry ink.

 

Wallylynn: shaving alumen is a good substitute for powdered alum.

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Alumen is the latin name (sorry: I am a pharmacist and I often use latin names for chemicals) of alum. Half a teaspoon of it should be enough for 1 pint of ink. The amount depends on the concentration of the ink. Please note: alum tends to precipitate proteins, but I do not think there is any protein in pokeberry ink.

 

Wallylynn: shaving alumen is a good substitute for powdered alum.

 

No problem with the Latin! I'm actually learning Latin. I'm just not a chemist, so I wanted to be sure. Thank you for your wisdom!

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Add some rusty nails for a week or so and you should have iron-gall ink -- same purple color, but darkening to black.

 

I'm going to try this again when the pokeberries ripen. Don't really need another project, but hey, life is short!

 

Peter

Edited by psfred
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Say, fd, do you eat poke salad when the shoots come up in the spring, or is that just a Maryland thing? One of the things I miss living in England...

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Say, fd, do you eat poke salad when the shoots come up in the spring, or is that just a Maryland thing? One of the things I miss living in England...

 

I haven't tried poke salad yet. I'm thinking about trying it next spring. I have made herbal medicine from the roots. I know it's a toxic plant and requires skillful handling. Did you boil it several times? What was your procedure for preparing it?

 

ETA: I remember when you could buy canned poke salat, but I guess it's been discontinued. Here's a link to a picture of it.

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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I prefer turnip greens myself, as they are barely edible. Dirty socks cooked with oak leaves would be better than poke if you ask me!

 

Boil those poke weed leaves in at least two changes of water.

 

Peter

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I prefer turnip greens myself, as they are barely edible. Dirty socks cooked with oak leaves would be better than poke if you ask me!

 

Boil those poke weed leaves in at least two changes of water.

 

Peter

 

:roflmho:

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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The crucial thing is to pick it really early, no red showing, not much more than a foot high. Don't take anything from below ground, but the young non-woody stems are as good as the leaves.

 

Cook in plenty of boiling salted water (don't fill a pot more than half full of greens before filling with boiling water) for 5 minutes after returning to the boil, drain and rinse thoroughly in cold running water. Discard that cooking water and start again with fresh water. Cook again in plenty of boiling salted water until the stems are tender, drain and serve with your choice of dripping/bacon grease/butter, salt and pepper.

 

Try a little bit the first time; if it makes you the least bit sick, don't try it again, but you won't be severely poisoned. But if you really like the flavor even though it makes you queasy, try repeating the first 5-minute boiling-and-rinsing stage before the final cooking stage (fresh water each time).

 

If you like it this way, you could try browning a little onion in your choice of fat and heating up the cooked poke with it. But it doesn't get any better any fancier than that.

 

I've never gotten sick from eating poke salad, but it is intrinsically poisonous, and it's better to be careful. I've read someone saying "Why would you eat something poisonous, when there are other perfectly good foods that aren't?" Well, among other things, the characteristic flavor of almonds, and to a lesser extent in cherries, apricots, and peaches, is cyanide... It's a question of concentration. There is less of the toxins in the new shoots to begin with, and the cooking in at least two changes of water should reduce that to a safe level.

 

NB: The berries have been known to kill children, and it is possible to be very severely poisoned by raw or insufficiently cooked leaves. The roots are even more toxic. Never eat any portion of the plant raw.

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NB: The berries have been known to kill children, and it is possible to be very severely poisoned by raw or insufficiently cooked leaves. The roots are even more toxic. Never eat any portion of the plant raw.

 

Thanks for the cooking info! I have used the plant medicinally (Susan Weed's book Breast Cancer has info about how to use the roots and berries medicinally and safely... needlessly to say, the dosage is very small.) But I only recommend it after educating yourself thoroughly about the plant and its risks. Violent diarrhea and vomiting are the least of the side effects if you poison yourself, and yes, death is the worst one! Most specifically, it is the seeds inside the berries that are the most poisonous, especially if crushed. Birds and squirrels eat them without a problem, but the seeds probably pass through their systems intact (indeed, that helps the seeds germinate, after being "processed" with digestive juices!) So exercise caution when using any part of this plant, and do not consume the berries. The berries can be used to dye fiber, too.

 

 

"Why would you eat something poisonous, when there are other perfectly good foods that aren't?"

 

 

Pokeweed is also called cancer weed... it has been known to cure cancer. So it is healthy in some respects, having a high nutritional profile. Eating it year-round might cause problems, but since the greens are only available for a short time during the spring, it's not likely to cause a problem if they're cooked properly, with a few changes of water. I've used root tincture to cure infection and pneumonia (in very small dosages). But I have yet to actually eat the greens. We'll see next spring! I've done everything else with this plant, lol.

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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