What are gourds:
The name gourd refers to crop plants from the Curcurbitaceae family. This family contains many common vegetables; pumpkins, cucumber, squash, and melons. Many plants in this species have a hard shell, these are the ones that are best for drying. Sometimes for eating, often for decorative purposes.
When should I pick the gourd?
Mature fully grown gourds are very resilient to frost and rain. They are best when left attached to the vine of the crop on the floor. They can be left through several days of freezing and thawing before they become too damaged for use. If the gourds haven’t fully matured by when you expected its okay to leave them on the vine past the end of the growing season. Try to avoid leaving them over winter, however, as they will most likely rot and become foul-smelling and useless for drying.
The gourd is ready for picking once it has become lightweight and hollow. Once this happens, the best way to check the gourd is ready for drying is by picking it up and giving it a quick shake. If you can hear the rattle of seeds coming from the inside, you should be good to go.
Once the gourds are all dry enough you should begin harvesting them for use. It is far better to harvest them all at the same time rather than spread out as that will just make your life harder managing them all at different stages.
There will be some casualties, not all of your gourds will make it through to the end and that’s okay. Those that become rotten can be composted to help the ones next year.
What if I don’t want to wait for them to dry outside?
If you don’t feel like waiting around for them to dry on the vine, you can cut them from the vine and hang them to dry. Traditionally they’re hung to dry outside but you’re more than welcome to just hang them somewhere dry in your house. Such as the garage. If you are looking to speed the process up even more, you can poke a couple of holes in the bottom of them( leave a drip pan to catch everything that falls out, you don’t want a mess) and that will increase the speed they dry out drastically.
How to clean the gourd:
Cleaning the gourd is as simple as submerging them in a bucket of warm water. It is best to use soapy water to kill any bacteria that may begin to breakdown your gourds. Bleach can give the gourd a difference in color but that is purely up to you, it doesn’t change the process at all.
Next, clean the outer skin of the gourd off by scraping it with a knife or a ball of steel wool/sandpaper. Once the outer skin is removed you have a nice, clean, dry, gourd.
The gourds can be stored anywhere you like, they typically lasting around 6 months depending on what gourd it is.
I hope this article answered any questions about the gourd drying process. Happy ‘Gourding’!