- The fermenting process breaks down the leaves to release indigo (indoxyl) and enzymes. The indigo at this stage is less stable, and if the leaves ferment too long (more than 3-5 days) the indigo will start to break down.
- If after 3-5 days your water is the color of antifreeze, but you still have a lot of fresh green leaves, move them to a new fermentation container and let them ferment longer. That way you don't risk losing the indigo you have extracted, and maximize how much indigo pigment you harvest.
- My 50-gal barrels have the advantage of making it easy to keep a lot of plants completely submerged, but the disadvantage of warming up unevenly. The top always gets warm much quicker than the bottom, so the plants on top will ferment much more quickly. I try to stir the plants a couple times a day to stir the warm water on top into the cooler water below.
|Starting to turn antifreeze green, but not done yet...|
Ding ding ding!
We have extracted indigo!
|Even a nice iridescent blue sheen on top.|
Before the next step, we are now done with the plant material and need to remove it as best we can. It's a great addition to your compost. I just put mine right back in the indigo garden.
|Scooping it out with a rake...|
|...and putting it around my cut plants in the garden as mulch.|
Now that we have some unstable indoxyl in water, we need to stabilize it and alkalyze it.
Onwards to Step 3!