Friday, November 22, 2013

Cranberries ... the Other Ink

Ages ago, before computers and gel pens and bottled inks, people made dyes and inks from plant pigments. The thinking probably went something like this: if it stains my fingers I can probably use it to draw, paint, write or dye something.

Cranberries, like blueberries, cherries and other fruits, produce finger-staining juice that works well for making ink. But you might have noticed that they're not as soft as other berries. Drop a strawberry on the floor and it bruises. Drop a cranberry and it bounces.

What you need:
cranberries - a cup will do
strainer and wooden spoon
salt and vinegar - about 1/2 teaspoon each

What to do:
1. Before you make cranberry sauce, put a cup of the cranberries into the freezer. This will help them release their juice.
2. When you remember them, take the cranberries out of the freezer. Let them thaw in a strainer placed over a bowl.
3. Use a wooden spoon to squash the cranberries against the strainer, forcing the juice out.
4. Add a pinch of salt and a bit of vinegar to help keep your ink (or dye) from fading.
Now use your ink to write a letter or make potato prints or paint a card.

You can use other berries, too. Staghorn sumac berries grace the tips of branches of the trees lining my road. They're a nice red color. I wonder if I can make ink out of them...

Today is STEM Friday - head over to the STEM Friday blog to see what other people are talking about in science.

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