HORTICULTURE — Drying gourds

(Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County)
(Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County)

By Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate

Harvest gourds when the vine and stem dries and begins to turn brown. Be sure to complete your harvest before the first hard frost. Immature gourds will not cure correctly and rot, so only harvest mature fruit.

After harvest, wash the gourds with dish soap and dry off with a soft cloth. Discard any bruised, diseased or damaged fruit. To dry, place gourds in an open box. Make sure they do not touch each other and are located in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location.

Curing can take one to six months, depending on the type of gourd. The outer skin hardens in one or two weeks, while the internal drying takes at least an additional month. Poke a small hole in the blossom end of the gourd to quicken internal drying. Occasionally turn the gourds, checking for uneven drying or soft spots. When you shake the gourd and hear the seeds rattling, it is cured and ready for a coat of paint if desired.