Many people use loofahs, also known as luffas, to scrub down their skin when taking a bath due to their exfoliating properties and cleaning benefits. They have been popular for quite a long time, and many people are using them to this day.
If you are trying to grow your own loofahs at home, then you may have had to pick the gourds while they are still green and are wondering how you can dry out the gourd in order to get your wonderful loofah sponges.
Thankfully, this process does not differ very much from drying a ripened loofah!
Simply prepare your loofah as you would normally and allow it to dry in the sun. Check it and ensure that it does not begin to mold. And if you have a fan available, place this facing the gourds to keeps a steady airflow going.
That’s the easiest way, but if you are interested in learning more about how to dry a green loofah along with other interesting information, continue reading.
Lovely Little Loofahs
What is Loofah?
Loofah, also known as luffa, is a plant species that produces gourds and is closely related to cucumbers and zucchinis. They thrive in the tropics as well as subtropical environments and can grow in most warm climates.
They grow quite quickly and produce large yellow flowers which can grow up to 5 inches across. It takes about four months for the loofah plant to bring forth fully mature gourds, meaning that they may need to be planted earlier in the year for colder areas.
The plant thrives when left in full sunlight and will require a sturdy type of fence or similar structure to cling to so that the vines can keep their gourds off of the ground.
The gourds of the loofah are massive, sometimes growing up to 2 feet in length, so the space that the plant requires is quite large.
Once harvested, the gourds are then peeled and cleaned, producing sponges that can be used for a variety of different purposes such as in the bath or as a scrub for dishes.
It is recommended by most to allow the gourd to completely dry while still on the vine until it begins to become brittle and the skin turns brown. Once you are able to hear the seeds within the gourd rattle about inside, then you can harvest the gourds.
Of course, circumstances may not always allow for you to leave the gourd on the vine until it becomes brown and brittle. Maybe a cold snap has come in early or you just planted the seeds too late.
Thankfully, there are a few techniques that you can use to still get some useful loofah sponges out of your gourds while they are still green.
How to Prepare a Green Loofah
For whatever reason, you have harvested your loofah before it has become fully ripe, meaning that it is still green and not fully dried and brown.
Thankfully, you are still able to get a loofah sponge out of this gourd, even if it is not dried as optimally as you would have liked.
To begin, crush the sides of the gourd with your thumbs to get the skin to loosen up and separate from the sponge within. All you need to do is press down along the length of the gourd and press down.
You may also knock the gourd against the wall or the ground in order to shake the seeds within the gourd loose. After this, you can break off the small tip at the bottom end of the gourd and shake out any seeds that have come loose.
If you are saving these seeds for planting, set them aside, and allow them to dry. Doing this will prevent them from becoming moldy. After the seeds have dried for a few days, dust them off and place them either in the freezer in an airtight container or in a cool and dry location.
After taking care of the seeds of the gourd, you can move on peeling the skin off. Even if the gourd is not fully brown and ripe, you can still do this with relative ease.
You may need to crush and slam the gourd against a hard surface some more as you work towards peeling the skin off, but eventually, the skin will come off.
If you are doing this to a large number of gourds, it may be a wise decision to wear some protection for your hands, as the sponge within can rub the tips of your fingers raw and cause quite a bit of discomfort while working.
Sometimes you may still find a bit of difficulty in separating the skin from the sponge within. Soaking the gourd in water is a simple fix to this, and will usually soften up the skin enough to make peeling significantly easier.
When peeling, you will want to start at one end of the gourd and work towards the other. This makes the job of peeling the skin off much easier, but you can always peel in a different way if you find you are uncomfortable with this style.
Make an effort to get as much skin off as possible. If there are any pieces of skin that are left on the sponge, they will tend to turn brown after peeling.
After removing the skin, you can spray down the sponge with a hose that has a sprayer attachment. Doing this should get rid of most of the sap that is left behind in the sponge itself, as well as knock loose any seeds that were left behind.
You also have the option to wash the sponge in a bucket full of soapy water, scrubbing out any flakes of skin that may be left behind, if you want to get the sponge extra clean. Then when that is finished you can spray it down.
Should you notice brown or dark spots on the loofah sponge itself then you have the option of soaking the sponge in a solution of bleach and water. One cup of bleach for five cups of water should be sufficient.
When doing this, only bleach the loofah until the spots are gone, and then rinse the sponge thoroughly. Thankfully, most loofahs will not require bleaching and will be good to go with just a wash and a rinse.
Now you know how to prepare your green loofah. After this is all taken care of, you are ready to begin drying your loofah!
Drying your Green Loofah
You have successfully prepared and stripped your green loofah, and now you will be able to dry it out and get it ready for use as a sponge.
This process is very similar to how you would dry a ripe or brown loofah gourd, albeit it may take a little bit longer to dry due to the green loofah still having a bit more sap left in it.
One of the ways that you can dry out your green loofah is by leaving it out in the sun and rotating it accordingly. Keep in mind that the sponge will change color as it dries, and this is normal and to be expected.
Leaving the sponge out in the sun for longer periods of time will make it rougher and change the overall texture of the sponge, so make sure to only dry it to your wanted roughness.
Allow the loofah to fully dry because any sap that remains will cause it to mold. After it is dry you may store it in place where dust won’t gather on them and set them aside until they are to be use.
If the weather outside is cold and you are worried about your loofah growing brittle if left outside, you can also place it on top of the heater within your home or dry it within your clothes dryer.
It may not be the most appealing way to do things, but if you are left with no other choice then this is one solution that you may try out.
When drying the loofah inside of the house it will be wise to place a fan blowing onto the sponge to encourage clean air flow. This will prevent the growth of mold on the wet sponge.
You can now see that drying your green loofah is not that different from drying a regular ripened loofah, and that’s some good news!
With this information, you can confidently cultivate and prepare your own loofahs right at home without worrying about whether or not they will go to waste if you pick them while still green.
Of course, when given the option, it is always much better to pick your loofah gourds when they are brown and brittle, rather than green, but you now will be able to make your own loofah sponges with whatever stage of loofah gourd you pick.