By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
This year my loofahs have set the garden on fire.
They have grown up my shed onto my fence and across my clothesline.
The secret to my success is two-fold.
One, I started my seeds indoors in February. This gave my loofahs plenty of time to grow since they require a long growing season to be exact at least 180 says of warm weather. The second secret to my loofah success is something I cannot take credit for that is Mother Nature. This year’s weather was just perfect for loofah production.
But while I am ecstatic about my loofah crop I am at the same time wondering what to do with all these loofahs. One thing I am trying this year is cooking with them. To my surprise the small ones are excellent in stir-fries and salads. The recipe below is one I created using zucchini but since I have a surplus of loofahs I substituted loofahs for zucchini and boy did it turn out great.
Mindy’s Zucchini or Loofah Stir-Fry
- 2 small loofahs peeled or zucchini
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 shallots, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 1 Tablespoon mushroom sauce
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 scallions, chopped
- Â½ bunch cilantro leaves
1. Cut loofahs or zucchini diagonally
2. Place oil in wok or skillet and heat.
3. Add shallots and garlic. SautÃ© until shallots and garlic are soft.
4. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add mushroom sauce, soy sauce, and scallions. Cook for 1 minute.
6. Take stir-fry up and top with cilantro leaves.
Another use for my bountiful loofahs is as natural sponges. These are easy to create and are actually fun to do with your family. The first thing to do is to handle the hanging loofahs. The lighter the loofah seedpods are the more likely they are ready to pick. Also if they rattle inside this is an indication that the fibers have dried. Another indication is if the skins on the loofah seedpods have become loose and darkened. All these signs together will help tell as to whether the loofahs are ready to pick.
Once picked the skin needs to be removed. Sometimes the skin will just peel away but most of the time the skin needs a little help. This help comes in the form of slamming the loofah against a hard surface. This action will loosen the skin and knock the seeds loose. Once the skin is loose simply use your thumbs to tear and pull apart the loofah skin. Then peel the skin off the loofah.
Once loofah is skinned spray off to remove any remaining seeds, skin, and sap. Then shake and squeeze excess water from loofah and place in a bucket of bleach water at a ratio of 1 cup of bleach to 3 cups of water. Soak in this solution until all sap and stains have been removed. Rinse loofah and hang to dry in the sun. The longer the loofah stays in the sun the rougher it will become and the better it will scrub. Once completely dry store in a bag or box to protect from moisture and dust.
The seeds during this process will fall out of the loofah. To save these seeds just rub the protective coating off and air dry. Once completely dry store in refrigerator or in an airtight container.
A creative use for these loofahs is a soap scrubbie. This project is great for kids on a rainy day and makes a wonderful gift for anyone that likes to be pampered.
Homemade Loofah Soap Scrubbies
- Loofahs, cut into slices the depth of your molds
- Cardboard or plastic container to form folds
- Essential oil
- Measuring cup
- Microwave or stove
1. Place slices of loofah in molds.
2. Melt glycerin in measuring cup using a microwave. If using a stove melt glycerin in a saucepan. Once melted add essential oil one drop at a time until scent is reached.
3. Pour into mold with loofah.
4. Cool completely then pop out loofah soap scrubbies.
5. These can then be decorated with ribbon and labeled for gift giving.
Hopefully your loofah harvest is as big as mine and you will try some of these ideas. So until we blog again, Rub-a-dub dub many loofahs in the tub, what to do with so many give me a clue. Try cooking, scrubbing, and scrubbies away, will find more uses and make it a clean day.