How To: Harvest your own squid ink

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I really, really love the fact that this Instructable starts off with "Step 1: Obtain squid."

It's also incredibly cool that these instructions aren't just about collecting the squid ink. Instead, you're being taught how to save the ink from a squid that you're planning on cooking. It's two lessons in whole squid dissection for the price of one! Plus there's a video.

I'm really curious to know how different squid ink would look from other inks if you used it for printmaking or writing. Does it look different at all? Have any of you tried it?

How to Harvest Squid Ink, by Instructables user candida

Via hectocotyli

20

  1. Don’t you just punch them until they die and drop some ink sacs? Then you can start dying your wool.

  2. well, from what I can gather most squid ink would be less than perfectly black when you write with it, some types are actually sepia in colour (cuttlefish).

    These inks can clog fountainpens, so a dip pen is a safer bet. Fountainpens can clog from the fine particles.
    That said, you can buy a bottle of sepia ink from Hakase (for about $70) which is purportedly made from squid ink, with the particles ground fine enough for use in a fountainpen.

    Some fountainpen users “roll their own” with at least one reporting that he harvests ink from his live pet octopus… the octopus gets a shrimp reward for being cooperative :)

    1. “Sepia” is spanish for squid. I’m always amused that people are surprised to find squid ink is not black but “actually sepia.” Conversely, it’s also amusing that so many old photographs are squid colored.

  3. How very handy, I’ve been considering making some black pasta, but was having trouble with the squid ink side of things.

  4. Every time there’s a big budget dog movie, some months later animal shelters see a spike in whatever breed was featured.

    I would be amused if there were a spike in gratuitous squid dissection because of minecraft.

  5. Sepia is traditionally made from cuttlefish ink. Different cephalopod, but same general concept. It’s fugitive, IIRC, which is one reason it’s more often used as a food color than as a printing or writing ink.

  6. @Berk–I think black pasta is made from octopus ink. Didn’t bother to look it up, though.

  7. The blackness in spaghetti is, in Italian, “nero di seppia,” or cuttlefish ink. I can find it quite easily at my local fishmongers (Cambridge) and have used it to make paella before. It’s very good, even ifit mostly affects the presentation.

    But I do wonder: if, as arikol says, some of the ink is sepia in color, could the word “sepia” come from the Italian (probably Latin) “seppia” for cuttlefish?

    Off to the etymological dictionary…. Yes! The color “sepia” is from the Latin “sepia” meaning cuttlefish. Or, more precisely, from the Italian “seppia,” which is from the Latin “sepia,” which is from the Greek “sepia” meaning “to make rotten.” Hmmmm….

  8. When I was a wee tyke, I took an oceanography class at what was then the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry. We got to dissect anchovies (messy) and squid. The squid were cool because it was easy to see the distinct organs. The squid were especially cool because we learned how to use them to write rescue notes if you were lost on a remote island: remove long backbone-like thing. Poke tip into ink sac. Voila, pen and ink! Of course, one had to assume that paper and a glass bottle with stopper were to hand–details, details.

  9. Funny, my boyfriend just asked me this weekend if I’d ever had to do dissection in school, and I told him about my favorite one – the squid! We would write with the ink, using the cuttlebone (as Remez described) then fry up the flesh for calimari! Growing up in Los Angeles rocked!

  10. If one sent a letter written in squid ink to PETA, would that person still get taken up by the rapture this Saturday? Hypothetically, of course.

  11. I’m not sure about the blackness of the ink, but I am sure that whatever you wrote would smell strongly of rotten squid. We make squid ink risotto from time to time, especially good with some garlicy sour cream on top! But the squid ink doesn’t just give the dish it’s colour, it also gives it a lovely fishy taste, similar to SE Asian fish sauce.

  12. I’m not sure about the blackness of the ink, but I am sure that whatever you wrote would smell strongly of rotten squid. We make squid ink risotto from time to time, especially good with some garlicy sour cream on top! But the squid ink doesn’t just give the dish it’s colour, it also gives it a lovely fishy taste, similar to SE Asian fish sauce.

  13. A chef friend of mine wants a tattoo of a squid in squid ink. Inspired by that, I was thinking octopus with corresponding ink. Anybody know if that’s possible/safe/advisable?

  14. I had a biology TA who threatened to fail anyone who wrote up the squid dissection using the squid’s ink. Apparently someone had done that in the past and their lab notebook had stunk to high heaven for the rest of the quarter.

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