How to Dry Gourds

When should you pick gourds? How can you dry them to use for crafts and decorations?

Dry gourds are fun to use for a variety of crafts. They can be painted, shellacked, or left unfinished. Dried gourds will be light and fragile, and you should be able to hear the seeds rattling inside. In ancient cultures, dried gourds were used for a variety of tools and dishes.

Gourds, which are members of the cucumber and melon family, are warm season plants. Frost destroys them at both planting and harvesting times. When weather indications point to frost, all gourds that are hard and firm should be picked and stored in a cool, airy room on trays to permit free air circulation. If the gourds are soft, leave them on the vine, even if a frost is coming. Sometimes, the first frost hardens them.

Some gourds will dry out easily, while others will mold during the drying process. Since a gourd is 90% water, this mold is nature’s way of bringing moisture to the surface. If mold starts forming on a gourd, but the gourd remains hard, scrape the mold off with a dull butter knife and wipe the gourd dry. Watch carefully for any additional mold formation. If mold forms again, repeat the scraping and drying each time.

The drying process may take up to one month. Keep the gourds in a cool, well-ventilated area and check them every few days. Remove any moisture and mold. If a soft spot forms, discard the gourd. When you hear the seeds rattle inside, it means the gourds are completely dry. Dried gourds are fragile; handle them with care.

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