Gourds have a very long association with humans, and it is believed that these plants were among the oldest ones that have been domesticated by the mankind. Apart from their culinary uses, certain types of gourds were dried and used for decorative purposes. Even today, dried gourds are used for making utensils, bird houses, bird feeders, musical instruments, table decorations, etc. In short, gourd art has been in vogue, for a very long time. In order to make gourds fit for arts and crafts, you have to purchase either dried gourds, or fresh ones for drying. As dried ones can be expensive, you may try drying fresh ones.
Tips for Drying Gourds
Ripe gourds are rich in water. As the gourds get dry, the water evaporates through the pores on their skin. The drying process may be affected by the size of the gourd, and weather changes. So, if you are in a hurry, it will be better to buy dried gourds from a craft store.
- If you want to dry gourds on your own, get a ripe gourd of the shape and size of your choice. It is better to retain its stem, so that it can be hung for drying.
- The next step is to clean the gourd with water and a mild bleach solution. This is to get rid of the bacteria and fungus that can damage the gourd.
- Once the gourd is cleaned, hang it in a dry and well ventilated area. If it cannot be hung, keep it on a wooden board. However, make sure to turn it occasionally, so as to prevent rotten spots. Some people leave the gourd outdoors for drying.
- Once dried, the gourd does not change in size or shape. If it is dried completely, you can hear the rattle sound emitted by the seeds, when you shake the gourd gently. A dried gourd will emit a hollow sound, when it is tapped.
- Dried gourds have to be cleaned before using it for any art or craft. If you are using the gourd intact, then exterior cleaning is sufficient. In some cases, as in a gourd birdhouse, the inner surfaces have to be cleaned.
- Cleaning is done with soap water and a mild bleach solution. This is to get rid of the mold and other dirt. Stubborn mold can be removed by scrubbing with a sandpaper.
- If you want to clean the inner parts of the gourd, cut it open, as per the requirement, and remove the dry pulp and seeds, before cleaning with a mild bleach solution. Let the gourd dry, before use.
- People who are allergic to mold, have to be cautious, while cleaning the dried gourd. Others may also experience allergic reactions due to mold and dust that emerge while carving or cleaning dried gourds.
It may take around three months to a whole year for a ripe gourd to dry completely. There is an easy way out - drying gourds in the oven. This method is effective in case of small gourds like the 'sennari'. Scrape off the skin of the gourd. Its surface should be smooth and clean, before placing the gourd inside the oven, which is preheated to 170° F. You have to keep the gourd in the oven for around 12 to 24 hours. However, this method is not usually used for drying gourds. If you are in urgent need of a dried gourd, you may try this method, or else, get a dried gourd from the store.