Ripening Luffas
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Yvonne Chypchar
Posted on: October 27, 1999

My gardening partner and I have attempted growing luffas from your seeds in our Southern Ontario garden. We were successful, in that we grew numerous luffas nearly 2 feet long. (We have 2 beehives, so the winged creatures helped!) But of course the Canadian Fall gave our garden its usual cold embrace. Our luffas were still green, but the plants died with the frost. I’ve picked the green luffas and am simply drying them indoors.

Questions:

1) Will the luffas dry indoors properly (as opposed to on the vine)?

If your house is dry enough, warm enough and has good air movement, the most mature luffas should ripen and dry. I would not hope too much for the immature ones.

Next year you might try growing the seeds in paper cups for an early start and then restricting the number of fruits you allow to set to 2 or 3 per vine. Nipping off any new fruits will encourage the plant to expend the energy to ripen the fruits it is allowed to keep and they will ripen much earlier.

2) Do you have suggestions about how to process them further once they are dry i.e. removing skins, soaking the sponge, eliminating discoloration etc.?

Before you can use the sponge the skins must be removed. This job is much easier if the fruits are ripe. If the sponge is soaked it does not have much abrasive power and breaks apart into useless bits faster. It all depends what you want to use it for. If it got mouldy in spite of all the air and air movement you were able to give it, by all means bleach out any spots, but the sponge will last longer if you do it by wetting the affected area and letting the sun dry it outside – this will bleach it - at least after several wettings.

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