Posted by: juliegirl | February 16, 2010

luffa madness

I planted two little luffa plants way back in August, thinking “I like luffa scrubs. We’ll see what happens.” They were sweet little vines that grew slowly at first.


Then, in October, the vines exploded.

I expected a small-ish vine beca use of how little dirt they had to work with, but in October, the plants exploded and took over my neighbor’s unsightly fence. (More rant on the fence later–GRRR). I was thankful for a few months of respite from looking at the broken down thing, and the vines provided some privacy screen too, which is nice.

But most of all, there were TONS of luffa! They look like zucchini, and I guess they taste like zukes too if you eat them early enough.


After maturing, they aren’t good to eat anymore. After three or four months on the vine, the “pods” are ready for harvest.

Some folks let the pods sit and dry out for several weeks before processing. I didn’t hear about that method until after I went through the more time consuming and messy process below. But I also think you save more of the plants from mold this way.

First you soak the pods in the bathtub for several hours. This separates the skin from the meat inside.

Then, peel the skin off the luffa, tossing the luffas back in the water to soak. The more soaking time, the easier the peel comes off the meat.

SQUEEZE! The seeds inside are squeezed out by wringing out the luffas. This takes a loooong time, and your hands get quite raw.

Save the seeds for planting next year.

Remove any moldy patches. Soak in vinegar (and bleach if you want–I didn’t) and let dry. It was raining like crazy when I was processing these, so they took forever to dry, and more mold appeared. I soaked in vinegar again and dried next to the heater–that worked well.

And viola! you have your luffas.

I gave luffas to a few folks for Xmas–tie a hemp string or crocheted flax cord so you can hang them in the shower. I also cut smaller pieces to use for scrubbing dishes and countertops.

I enjoyed getting a sense of the work that goes into producing luffa, and it was surprising to see how little you have to do besides peel and dry to get the same luffa you’d buy in the store for $10. (It’s got to be one of the last surviving natural objects used in mainstream grooming.) All-in-all, a great project, especially if you like to learn first-hand where things come from.

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Responses

  1. I was wondering where you found your luffa seeds? I live in New Orleans and haven’t been able to track any down locally. Thanks.

  2. What fun. I’m glad you posted this. And I’m growing some luffa this summer! xo

  3. I love this Julie! You are so industrious my dear. Miss you.


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