Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oregon Grapes

I will be posting more of our trip pictures in the coming days. But today I wanted to show you what I did this weekend.  It was my first attempt at making Oregon Grape jelly.  We have an Oregon Grape plant that was here when we moved in.  There are now several more plants around the yard that spread naturally.

Right now they have bluish purple berries on them.  The berries are edible but very tart.  We never thought about doing anything with them until a friend said that people make jelly with them. Frank wants to take out of couple of the extra plants but I told him to wait until after the berries are ready so we could make jelly.

The berries are small and have seeds (kind of like our serviceberries).  We have a bumper crop this year.  Here they are ready to cook.

I looked up online how to make the jelly.  You boil and eventually mash the berries.  Then you strain the juice out and that's what you use for the jelly.

I thought it was interesting that they changed color as they started to heat up.

When I was looking up recipes, I found out that I could also use them as a dye for fabric.  Since we had so many of them,  I decided to try that, too.  

I have not done any natural dyeing before.  Once again, I had to look up info. on the internet.  The process is a bit different than the chemical dye process that I normally do.

Here is what the fabric looked like in the berry dye.  It was a pretty burgundy, rose-like color.

But what was surprising was that when the process was completed and the fabric washed out. They were a light lavender color.

From left to right: The cheese cloth I used to strain the berries, a white piece of fabric, an off-white piece of fabric and a piece of fabric that was already a pale yellow.  

They are very subtle changes and hard to see in the photo ( and probably a little bit lighter in color than what shows in the photo).

I had read that if you let the berries sit over night in the liquid that you would get a stronger dye. So, I let some sit over night.  

The next day I died a pale blue piece of fabric (on left side) and another white piece.  These look darker in the picture but they really are very similar to the first batch.  So, leaving it overnight didn't make much difference.

You can also use the roots of the plant to dye a yellow color.  When Frank digs up the plants, I'll think about trying to use the roots for dye.

It was an interesting experiment and I might try some more natural dyeing sometime in the future. But I will stick to the chemical procion dyes to get my wide range of colored fabrics.


k said...

Very fun experiment! The color was surprising.

Mary said...

Very pretty, Lisa! Did you use a mordant? (alum, maybe?)

Lisa Flowers Ross said...

Mary, I boiled the fabric in salt water for about an hour as I read that somewhere on the internet.