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Walnut ink is an ink made from walnuts. A method for making it is given in this traditional recipe:
In late summer or fall as walnuts begin to drop, collect the largest walnuts in a five-gallon bucket. If the hulls are starting to rot and turn brown, it is all the better. Leave the bucket of walnuts in hulls under a shed cover for a week to ten days. If not already, the green hulls will begin to turn dark brown and soft.
Find a large pot from the kitchen. Outside the house, place the completely rotten walnuts and hulls into the pot and cover with a generous amount of water. If you do not use a gas grill, a hot plate will work. The idea is to slow cook the brown hulls over the weekend at low heat, stirring every so often. If the water cooks down, add more.
Eventually the walnut hulls will completely break down and brown ink will begin to form. Start testing the color strength with a stick and some white paper. It should be very dark brown, almost black when used straight, and a beautiful golden brown when thinned with water as a wash.
Let cool and strain the entire mixture through nylon stocking to remove the nuts and heavy fiber. You can now heat again and boil down to the desired darkness and thickness. A very dark ink, just slightly thicker than water, is desired.
A five-gallon bucket of walnuts should generate about a gallon of ink.
Walnut ink may also be made by simply boiling the dried husks before they rot in water until the desired color is achieved. Black walnut husks or English walnut husks may be used. Black walnut husks give the deepest brown.
For a photo of black walnut used for ink see http://www.lapisandgold.com/ink.htm.
Sunday, May 28, 2006