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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

How to Dry Gourds

How to Dry Gourds

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.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.