Dipper gourds (Langenaria siceraria) come in a variety of sizes and shapes, even though most have thin necks and bulbous bases. Some varieties feature brief necks, or grips, but some have long or curved grips. These ornamental gourds grow nicely as annuals in many spaces which feature at least 100 days of frost-free temperatures, producing mature gourds for ornamental purposes in late summer or autumn. Correct harvesting and curing ensures the dipper gourds dry completely so you can show them for several decades without mold or decay.
Cut the gourd in the plant after the stems turn brown and dry, prior to the first autumn frost. Make a clean cut through the stem with a sharp knife, leaving at least 1 inch of the stem attached to the gourd.
Wash the exterior of the gourd with soapy water and wipe dry. Inspect the gourd as you wash it and dispose of any that have soft spots or damage.
Lay the gourds in a dark, dry place, placing them in a single layer so they don’t touch. Expand the gourds every day as they dry so all sides dry completely. Initial drying requires approximately one week.
Wipe the surface with a barely damp cloth if any mold types on the rind during the initial drying process. Continue to dry the gourds for eight weeks. Inspect the gourds weekly and then rub off any mold that forms on the surface and dispose of any dippers that begin to shrivel or decay.
Carve, paint or show the dippers as desirable once they have cured completely. A fully cured gourd features a hard rind and the seeds rattle hollowly inside.