Grow It! Eat It! Use It! The Sponge Gourd – Luffa aegyptiaca, Egyptian cucumber, Vietnamese luffa

This is the article I wrote for our local Fraser Coast magazine The Beacon:
Sustainable Living Choices On The Fraser CoastGrow It! Eat It! Use It! The Sponge Gourd – Scientific name: Luffa aegyptiaca
Other names: Egyptian cucumber, or Vietnamese luffa

The Sponge Gourd or simply Luffa, is one of the plants I wouldn’t like to miss in our food forest. It has many uses, it loves our hot Summer days and the bees love it, too 🙂
It has been well known and used since the time of the Late Roman Empire. The young fruits and leaves are used as a vegetable and can be cooked in many ways or eaten fresh, dried, fermented or pickled. It not only tastes good but it is good source of Proteins, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Calcium and also Vitamin B6, C, A, B1, B2 and others.

The mature fruit grows up to 40cm in length and becomes fibrous and great as a sponge. You simply remove the outer skin and let it dry. The seeds come out easily when the sponge is dry. Nothing better than a natural sponge to use under the shower and also the best sponge I ever had in my kitchen. Not only because it is naturally grown but also because in last much longer than the plastic sponge from the shops! When it has done the job and starts to crumble after a while, throw it into compost. Our planet and your garden will thank you 🙂

It will easily grow from seed and the better the soil, the better the plant. You can grow it in the same garden bed together with beans, peas, onions and corn. Keep the seeds from your sponges for the next season or simply scatter around in your garden and they will start to grow without your help when the right time comes. It is a vine and it will happily grow on the fence or you can build nice trellis for it. The plant is definitely worth it!  I usually have always some spare seeds so send me an email to permaculturehaven@gmail.com if you need them.

Luffa recipes:
Luffa as a side dish: Cut the young Luffa in cubes and toss in a hot olive oil and garlic for few minutes. Enjoy!
Fermented Luffa: Cut in about 1cm thick slices and place in sterilized jars together with some dill, garlic and vine leaves. Bring to boil water and salt, 1 Tbsp salt per 1L of water, cool down into room temperature and fill the jars until the Luffa slices are submerged. Close the jars and keep in a dark place out of sun for a few days until ready. Depends on the temperature, it takes about 5-7 days until ready. Move into fridge and keep up to 3 months if not gone by then!
Pickled Luffa: Please check our blog for the Preserving Vegetable – Capsicum Pickle in our blog at www.permaculturehaven.com I use the same recipe for the Luffa and other veggies from the garden.

Note: We regularly do workshops and courses at our Permaculture homestead in Pacific Haven. You can find us on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Its all about how to grow food and the sustainable way of life.
Ewa from Permaculture Haven

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