Oak Gall Soup

Gathering Oak Galls for Making Ink

Oak galls are wonderful little orbs that grow on the oak trees.  They occur as a result of wasps laying their larvae on the branches.  In response, as a self-protective mechanism, the trees generate a hormone that swells into woody spheres ranging in size from one to four inches.
They start out green and turn brown through the year.  Each one is different ranging in size, color, texture, and shape.  I pick them from where they have fallen to the ground, finding a few every time I am out.  A while back, I walked across the field to where there are more oaks and found so many galls I couldn’t carry them in one trip.

Note: Some people are put off about the “wasp larvae” bit. But I have never seen a wasp (and there are plenty here) even remotely interested in the galls whether on the tree or on the ground.  I am sure they have emerged long before I ever get to them.  Besides… the oak creates the gall because of the insect, not for it.

Cooking Oak Galls

Before cooking

During cooking
When cooked up in a pot with some rusty iron thrown in for flavor, I end up with the most wonderful black ink. This ink is good for writing or drawing with quill pens.  It also works well with a paintbrush to provide a beautiful monochromatic watercolor effect on paper.  Coloring with regular watercolors could be used with it, or colored drawing pencils can had some nice hues.
There is no exacting recipe for this process.  I researched online and found several different methods and used them as guides.
Soon I will post images of artwork made with Oak Gall Ink.