Book IX, Chapter XXVII
Of certain trees found in Nagrando, in the governance of Nicaragua on the Mainland, whose fruit is used to make ink and is known by Christians as the ink trees, and of the way the ink is made out of this fruit.
Translated by Elizabeth Girdharry ’22
In the city of León, in the province of Nicaragua, the Christians make very good writing ink from the fruit of certain trees that are abundant in that land. The fruit is used much the same way we use oak galls to make ink. The tree bears a carob-colored fruit that is half a finger long and almost as wide; it dries and twists on the tree and looks almost like ergot. When broken, the fruit has a dust like the one in ink galls. The dust is mixed with water, beaten, and left to sit; copperas (ferrous sulfate or green vitriol) is then dissolved in water and mixed with the first mixture. The resulting ink is very good, and I say so good that it surpasses the one made from copperas and oak galls; it is very black in color and very fine and durable, and does not run. I have written many things in my memoirs since I first came to this land, and they look better now than when I first wrote them.
Image: Photograph of a letter from the 1800s belonging to public domain.