How to Make Ink From Alugbati

bottle of ink image by Alfonso d'Agostino from

Alugbati, known in the U.S. as Malabar spinach, is commonly grown for its soft, spinach-like leaves and shoots. Alugbati is of African and East Asian origin. The juice of the fruits was reportedly used in ancient China as ink for official seals. Today, the fruits of the red-stemmed alugbati variety can be used to make ink. As of May 2010, the government of the Philippines is researching commercial production of ink extracted from the alugbati fruits.

Pick the alugbati fruits at full ripeness, when it is round, plump and dark purple in color. You will need about three cups of fruit to produce one cup of juice.

Crush the fruits and seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Strain the juice into a bowl. Discard the solid fruit and seed remains. Repeat until you've procured one cup of juice.

Add the rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, salt and iodine and stir.

Transfer to a bottle or jar and seal until use.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh fruit of alugbati
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Strainer
  • Bowl
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tbsp. iodine
  • Bottle or jar with lid


  • Experiment with proportions of ingredients for different effects. Vinegar enhances the color and acts as a preservative. Salt is also a preservative. Iodine keeps the color from fading, and rubbing alcohol hastens drying time after use.

About the Author

Darci Pauser began writing in 2001. Her work has been featured in publications such as the "UC Berkeley Undergraduate Journal," Indybay and the West Texas Weekly. Pauser holds a certificate in sustainable agriculture from California's Green String Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo Credits

  • bottle of ink image by Alfonso d'Agostino from