Trying to decide if all the "skin" is off a gourd

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Last year this time, I started gourd seeds. Planted the seedlings as soon as it was safe (around May 1st), and managed to harvest about 8 largish gourds last fall. They have been in our garage,drying, since then. They appear to be dry at this point, but I never did anything to them before I let them cure, so I guess they still have skin on them.

I have been 'cleaning' the largest gourd for several days with steel wool and one of those superfine sanding pads. It's exhausting!!! I've been going thru all the old posts, and I see where some people soak their gourds and then peel away the skin before they dry them.

Am I too late to try that with my gourds? I shake the gourds, and I hear the seeds inside, so I'm pretty sure they are mostly dry. Except for one - which was left out in the garden until December - somehow I missed it, and it went through an ice storm and snow all by itself - that one has a white mold all over it. It's the only one that got moldy.

So, I guess I need to know - is there an easier way to get the skin off at this point, or do I just keep sanding until I'm happy with the gourds? Or is the skin mostly off already? The one I've been working on feels mostly smooth?

By the way, I love the mottled look, I'm not looking for a blemish-free gourd. I plan on woodburning a design of some sort into it and cutting out some areas - this big one has about a 12 inch diameter and is about 15 or so inches tall - looks like a giant pear..

I am in awe of all of you talented folks, and I really appreciate any suggestions you might have.

Mesilla Park, NM

I'm sure there are many methods, but here is mine:

I soak my gourd in warm water and place a towel over the wet gourd, to keep it wet for the afternoon or at least a couple of hours. Then use the plastic scrubbing pads to scrub off the mold. You can also put some bleach in the water after it is clean to kinda whiten it some.. it will not remove your mold patterns on it, but will lighten it so that your woodburning will show up more.

I never removed the skin off my gourds and just didn't know that I should. I did try carving into the skin when the gourds were green so that it would leave a design when it dried but it did not work for me, they shriveled up on me, maybe they were too green when they were cut off the vines at the farmer's market.

That is cleaning the outside. The inside is another

Hopefully someone in the forum will come along and give us more ideas.


Decatur, GA

I learned a trick awhile ago about cleaning dried gourds that works well for me. I use liquid dish soap and rub it on the gourd. Then wrap a wet/damp towel around the gourd. Keep the towel damp for several hours - you can drizzle some warm water over the towel. I leave it in the laundry tub. After awhile take off the towel and start scrubbing. I use a dull knife or plastic pot scrubber. I scrub and rinse, scrub and rinse - the skin basically slides off fairly easily. It is an effective method but may require another soaping and soaking to get every speck of skin off. It eliminates hours of scraping and scrubing by softening the skin.
Let me know it anyone tries this method.

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8b)

Good Morning ! Helen , I used this method and it worked great!
Beth, it eliminates a lot "scrubbing". The Dish soap seems to soften the skin, and using Anti bacterial soap , I dont worry so much about the mold on the outer shell.
I also like to add a touch of Bleach , like Gourd, it seems to take away a lot of the lighter discoloration . This is a good thing when you want a clean Pallet to create on. If you like the pattern the mold has given your gourd eliminate the bleach .

Decatur, GA

One time I tried scraping the green skin of several gourds while they were still on the vine. They were their full size but have not started to dry at all. I know this is risky because there is a chance the gourd won't mature but collapse and rot instead. But I lucked out and they finished growing and dried on the vine in the garden. The results were amazing. The gourds were clear of all the mottling that happens when it skin is left on and the mold grows and discolors the skin. They were beautiful and would be perfect for detailed pyrography.
I recommend trying it if you want to get some even colored gourds.

Decatur, GA

Eufaula- I'm glad the method worked for you!

Crossville, TN

I use the "dish soap and towels" method also....and I use the Chore Girl silver or brass scrubbies.

To be sure you have ALL the skin off the gourd...rinse it well and let it dry a few can see little patches of skin (that would loosen if you painted over them)......

Google "Cleaning Gourds" Lots of info on the internet. JO

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Thank you all! I ended up getting some of those fine sandpaper pads that you can use wet and I wrapped the gourd up as Helen suggested - it worked very well!
Now I have another 6 gourds to clean. I bet they are going to go a lot faster LOL!!

Penfield, PA(Zone 5b)

This is the first year that I had a large crop of gourds to clean. (over 50) I put them in the sink with water for an hour or so, then I take one of those cheap little plastic paring knives and scrape away the skin. It works pretty good. I was using the knife without wetting the gourds and it was alot more work. I have probably 35 more to do and then I will turn my attention to the insides. LOL

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

50!!!! WOW! How many plants did you grow? That's a fantastic number of gourds.

Penfield, PA(Zone 5b)

I planted alot of seeds. I probably planted 10 seeds in each hill, and I think there were 6 hills. I am sure there weren't 60 plants but I actually never counted them. They were in a part of the garden where we just let them go and did nothing to them. I do have to say that I had a great turnout as far as rotten ones. I probably threw out 10 last fall when I picked them to store for the winter, and only 3 were bad when I checked them last month. Now that I have begun cleaning them, I have lost 3 because they were to thin and I put my finger through them.

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