The first step to successfully curing and storing gourds is harvesting them at the proper time. Harvest gourds when the stem dries and begins to turn brown and the leaves start to die and complete your harvest before the first frost. Wait to hollow the gourds until after they have dried.
After harvest, wash the fruit in a mild bleach solution (one ounce bleach to two quarts water) and dry it off with a soft cloth. Discard any bruised, diseased or damaged fruit. Place dry gourds on slatted trays or in open-mesh bags (such as onion bags), making sure they don’t touch one another, in a warm (above 50°F), well ventilated dry area. Avoid placing gourds in strong sun, which could fade their colours.
Curing can take one to six months, depending on the type of gourd. The outer skin hardens in one to two weeks; internal drying takes at least an additional month. Poke a small, wire-sized hole in the blossom end of the gourd to quicken internal drying time. Occasionally turn the fruits, checking for uneven drying or soft spots. When you can shake the gourd and hear seeds rattling, it’s cured and ready for a coat of paint or varnish if desired.