Harvesting and drying Luffas?????

trublue22October 11, 2004

My 8 year old son grew Luffas this summer. He got a bit of a late start, as he didn't plant them until July. They took off at an unbelievable rate and produced many Luffas. However, only about 7 of them grew to a substantial size before we were forced to harvest them due to a cold snap that threatened to produce a frost. These are 12 to 18 inches long and about 3 in. in diameter. The color is still green. Will we be able to dry them and harvest the sponges from them? Or did we pick them too early? The leaves on the vines had turned black, but the vines were not completely withered. Anyone out there who can help? He was very excited about an idea he saw of pouring glycerin soap into the sponge and slicing them into bars of soap once they had hardened for Christmas presents. (Any further instructions on this project would be helpful, too!)If it helps, they are not at all mushy, but are 'springy' to the touch. Thanks!

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online_annie(z5 IL)

Hi, in order to make loofa soap, your loofa should be fully dried. You may need to purchase dried loofa from your local craft store if loofa is not dried in time.
Loofa Soap Recipe:
Cut the loofa into slices depending on the size of your mold and the desired effect you wish to have. Round, Rectangle...using whole slices, shreds or chunks of loofa etc. Carefully melt glycerin chunks in a glass measuring cup in your microwave ( or low heat on the stovetop in a coated pan ), approx. 40-60 seconds depending on the amount you are melting. Be sure to add a few drop of fragrance if you choose when melting. Once melted, pour soap into molds and let cool. Loofa will sometime pop up, I use something small to keep it down and then correct the cosmetic flaw once it has cool. This is usually not noticed as it is the bottom of the soap. Once cool, pop out of mold, add a ribbon or two, place in a decorative basket and prepare for the ohh's and ahh's your son will receive as he hands these out to relatives for Christmas.
This is a great rainy day activity, also great when kids bring their friends over. It is amazing what will wow most children these days due to their TV Tuned Lifestyle. It always keeps them coming back for more. Lip gloss is another great one, however I have 3 girls so the "wow" factor may be lost on your son with that one. **It would be great to add to the gift basket though for aunts and grandma's. I have recipes for boby butter and lotions as well. Drop me a line if your interested. I will be happy to pass along some of my recipes.
Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2004 at 7:39AM
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Irmgaard(5b MI)

I tried them once just for fun, I got just one small one, but I let it dry and picked the green stuff off the outside. It looked kinda dirty and scruffy till I washed it real good with soap and then bleached it, then it looked like a real luffa, just smaller and softer, good for your face. I think I will try them again.
Reading the other post about melting glycerin on the stove or in the micro, that sounds a little scary with kids. I melt all my old candle wax in a jar or glass measuring cup , but I just leave it on the coffee maker for a while, its smells good and I don't have to worry about a fire. Then I soak up the wax in balled up toilet paper and use it for kindling in my fireplace. Smells good there too. Gotta use everything, right?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 12:22AM
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I grew luffas last year. Check how heavy the luffa is. If it's lightened up considerably you can probably peel the skin off and use it. If it's still quite heavy, it was probably taken off the vine too soon. If it feels heavy let it sit a couple weeks and see if it dries up some before trying to peel it. I used sliced luffa in melt and pour soaps that I made with my daughter last year. I cut the luffa in slices however, after using the abrasive soaps I decided in the future to chop the luffa. Try it both ways and see what works for you!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 11:21AM
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Thanks all! I appreciate the soap help!! Irmgard--I will definately supervise him with the soap melting and pouring. As far as the actual luffas, they do seem to be considerably lighter than they were when they were on the vine, so hopefully they are drying just fine. I might give them a few more days. Do they change color, or do they stay green?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2004 at 2:53PM
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I've posted this pic. before but it's been awhile. I peeled the skin off my luffas when they were still green but a bit brown.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2004 at 1:04AM
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kristie8888(zone8 TX)

So, if I harvest them early, then they will be soft enough for face cleansing?

Luffas at the grocery store are very hard. Even too much for any part of my body.

What else can luffas be used for?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2004 at 4:27PM
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Luffas are hard once they're dried and there's no getting around that-that I know of. You can use them for scrubbing grout or other things that need scrubbing, instead of using them to bathe. I wouldn't use them for anything gooey, like scrubbing dishes because they just wouldn't rinse well. It's important to let them dry between uses or they can mold.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2004 at 10:27PM
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jay_c(z7 TX)

Ivegrown luffas the last 2 years..you wait till they turn yellow or completely brown.The drier they are -the easier the seeds come out..but the not quite completely dry ones are easier to peel..the drier they get,the harder they become..some from last year can can get very hard,even after bleaching and cleaning..i try and wait till you can hear the seeds rattle when you shake them...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 1:17AM
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rcheng(Z6 OH)

I was having the same dilemma about when to harvest the 'not totally brown' luffas last week. I know it's better to let them dry all the way on the vine but sometimes you simply don't have a choice due to short season and the fact that not all luffas appear all at once at the beginning of season. I found this thread when I search the Gardenweb for solution but no one really offered any suggestions on how to deal with immature luffas, only advices about not picking them too early. Well, I already picked mine since otherwise they would have been frozen solid by now. I tried to dry them in my garage but some of them have become mushy and moldy and I needed to do something fast. So here is what I did..

First, I peeled all the luffas, brown or not. The green ones were very slimy, but they actually looked better with fewer brown spots, etc. Next, I cut the luffa at several cross sections and cut out all the center core since it was very difficult to clean with them in there. I then squeezed out as much pulp as I could then soaked them in 10% bleach solution until they turned lovely ivory color. Next, I put these luffa sections in my dishwasher and let Cascade go to work. It removed all the pulp from the fiber like food residues from your dinner plates. After only one wash, luffa sponges looked great. I took out the entire dishwasher rack and dry luffas over heater vent overnight. Next morning, viola, beautifual luffa sponges. Conclusion: you don't need to throw away immature luffas and don't try to dry them off the vine, they will become moldy after only a few days.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2004 at 1:10AM
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I was trying to find the directions on how to make the loofa soaps. I am still growing my gourds am having a very successful year for the first time of growing them. I am going to use your directions. I am not sure what to use for the base as to being able to get them out when finished.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 6:46PM
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The luffas don't have to be brown on the vine before you pick them. If you look at the photo I posted on this thread 2 years ago, the luffa is still green. You can tell by the weight whether it's ready. If it's very light, it's basically dried and ready to peel, green or brown. I've never left mine on the vine until they're brown. As far as soaps go. I put a luffa into a cylinder mold and pour in the warm soap. After it sets, I cut the roll into soaps. Or you can cut the luffa up with scissors beforehand and mix it in with the warm soap before pouring into the mold.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 10:36AM
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