How to Make Ink From Alogbati

Juice from the alugbati fruit can be used to produce red ink.
Juice from the alugbati fruit can be used to produce red ink. (Image: ice ink ii image by Mykola Velychko from

Alugbati (Basella Rubra Linn) is more commonly known as Malabar spinach or Ceylon spinach in the United States. It is a fruit bearing plant native to Africa and East Asia. With simple materials, the juice from the alugbati can be used to create ink for writing that is safe to use and dark red in color. According to, the red ink was used by court officials in ancient China for official seals.

Things You'll Need

  • Alugbati fruit
  • Mortar
  • Pestle
  • Fine strainer
  • Glass jar with air-tight lid
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fine-grained salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) iodine

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Choose alugbati fruit that is ripe and dark purple, the riper the better. Do not choose fruit that are overly ripe and ready to spoil, as the natural ink that will be made can spoil as well.

Strip the fruit of its skin and seeds, then pulverize the remains with a mortar and pestle. Strain the juice into a glass jar. Be sure to use a strainer fine enough to remove all of the fruit pulp from the juice.

Add the rubbing alcohol, vinegar and iodine to the juice and stir until a smooth, even-colored liquid is produced. Add the salt and continue to stir until all of the salt is dissolved into the liquid.

Place an air-tight lid on the jar. Although the salt and vinegar will help preserve the ink, it will still spoil over time and should be handled with the same care as any other fruit juice to ensure it lasts as long as possible.


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