Have you ever considered using a more environmentally-friendly scrubbing pad in your kitchen? How about making some yourself? Well, that’s what I did this week when I received some sponge gourds from my husband’s village.
Known as niyang vetakolu in Sinhalese, this type of gourd does not have ridges like the variety which is freely available in markets. As you may know, the dried fibre of sponge gourds are used to make body scrubbing pads known as ‘luffas’. (The name has developed from the genus name Luffa under which these gourds have been scientifically classified.)
As you can see in the photograph below, the gourds are about 10-11 inches long. Plenty of fibre for several scrubbing pads, plus one for your bathroom as well!
The skin of the gourds becomes stiff and breakable, much like the surface of a cracker biscuit when dry. So opening up the dried gourd’s outer covering is not difficult.
Next, unravel the dried up fibres like in the photo below. Note that this particular piece is a cross cut. It is easier to cut them across to the required size before opening out the fibres. Once you have ‘opened up’ the gourd, remove the core containing the seeds. Set aside the seeds for planting or to gift to friends and family.
Now, trim the edges of the unrolled piece of luffa with a sharp scissor and fold in two. Press the edges together and tuck inwards so that any loose fibres will not unravel.
That’s it! You will have an all-natural, eco-friendly scrubbing pad which is just as effective for scrubbing pots and pans as commercially made scouring pads. You can make your scrubbing pad into any shape you like. I made mine somewhat tapered, to make it handy for use.
I should also mention that this type of smooth sponge gourd makes a very tasty white curry. Out of the 4 gourds I got I kept aside 2 gourds for cooking. Next week I will be posting my recipe for cooking niyang vetakolu. So do make it a point to check here.
If you would like to grow your own luffa vines, please send me an e-mail. I will provide you luffa seeds and instructions on how to grow them—all free of charge.