Hi you all!
Cheers to you, you grew butt scrubbers! Okay, you also grew dish sponges, bathroom sponges.. and yes. Body scrubbers.
The incredible Luffa gourd is a vine-grown member of the pumpkin, squash and gourd family. Despite what we all thought we knew, it does not grow in the ocean, it grows in your backyard! In the US luffa are typically grown and used as sponges, but they can also be eaten when harvested as young gourds.
Luffa have a long growing season (150-200 warm days) and they also need a lot of space! We grow ours along the fence lines and also on cattle panel archways and some stretch out to more than 30 feet per plant!
Okay, ok. You successfully grew luffa, but this is about what to do after. Most specifically what to do if, like us, you have a freeze in the forecast but your gourds are still green and firm- no need to worry. We got you.
From here, I will explain the method we have used to dry and peel hard as rocks, green luffa and still get a useable sponge. I don't consider the seeds viable after these next steps, but hopefully you have a huge stash! Luffa produce hundreds of seeds from one gourd!
Grab your green luffa, preheat your oven to its lowest setting- not more than 300 if at all possible. Somewhere between 200-300 degrees. This is going to act like a dehydrator would, or mimic the sunshine!
Place your whole gourds on a baking sheet, and I would line it with something. It gets messy. I have tried putting a tiny slit in the bottom or side of the gourd, and not- in my experiences you do get the same result but the time is decreased a hair when putting a slit. Go wild and try both ways.
Bake the gourds on low low for 30-45 minutes. The variation is due to differences in ovens and sized of the gourds. They will start to turn a brownish-green-yellow ish color and you'll know they are getting close to "done".
Take them out- they should feel heavy but you will notice the sap has been seeping out while in the oven. This is where you will WANT to make a slit in the skin to drain the sap- over your sink. It can get very messy.
Then you peel! It should be very easy to peel, like a ripe banana. Once the skin is off and you have made a huge mess, you will rinse the sponges. This is where if harvested "naturally" you would save seeds- but these seeds in my opinion are not going to be great to use and are just discard. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Luffa gourds contain a lot of sap like material and you are trying to clean that from the actual sponge.
Once cleaned up, you are just going to lay the sponges out to dry! Turn them a few times a day to help with airflow and give it a few days and you will have a usable sponge!
These store for years (if cleaned up well) and you can use them for many things! They make the coolest gifts and conversation starters!
if you have any questions, reach out on Instagram at @Wildoakfarms or email! Cheers to you!