PATOLA / LUFFA
Patola is a vegetable that is normally found in the market. It is usually used with miswa or chopseuy. But its usefulness does not ends there. It can be processed to become luffa. Yes, luffa, the one that we used to get rid of that dead cells in our body.
Patola as sponge has long been known in this country, but abroad, they are just beginning to know its use, and have learned to like it. Patola is sewn on a piece of cloth that serves as a handle for rubbing. Because of this, luffa or matured patola is in demand abroad, but we cannot meet this demand. Australia ask for a million pieces, to be sold in drug stores and department stores as sponge, 30×6 cm sizes. This is flat, but expands when put in water. The U.S get supply from Korea (form where luffa is supplied by a certain “Luffa King” because of his extensive luffa plantation for the purpose), by Japan, China and some other countries. In France, they like luffa as a natural beautifier cleanser. In Germany, their import of luffa is as natural as DM 1.83 million from Egypt, Greece, Japan, Cuba, USA, Tinisia, France, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Lebanon. Thus, if we can produce enough patola for export, it will mean bringing in dollars to our country, without much competition.
MANNER OF PREPARATION
1.Let the patola grow mature before harvesting or buy mature patola.
2. Remove the peel and shake of the seeds. It could be easier to clean this by boiling first, but this will diminish the coarseness for rubbing.
3. Dry in the sun for two days (in summer) or 4-5 days in rainy weather. It can also dried in the oven but the quality is inferior to that which is sun dried. Its whiteness is less.
4. Wash to clean and soften. Bleach to make it white.
5. Dry in the sun again 3-5 days. Now, the patola becomes wider, softer and milk colored.
6. Cut into desired sizes ( according to customer’ taste).
7. Seal in plastic bag.
from: Bureau of Export Trade and Promotion, Dept. of Trade & Industry 1991
picture from: plantopiagifts.com