Aloe vera gel is widely known to soothe sunburns and help heal wounds.
But this plant can be used in many other ways, including in the kitchen.
With a little imagination, it can be consumed in many original ways.
Why is it necessary to consume aloe juice with caution?
What is the best way to get their healing gel from the leaves?
We will tell you all the answers on the following lines.
What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is an evergreen succulent plant that grows naturally in dry climates in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Originally probably from the Arabian Peninsula, the largest commercial growers today are Mexico and Venezuela.
From a botanical point of view, aloe vera belongs to the asphodelaceae family. There are several hundred types of aloe, the best known and most sought after is aloe vera. The name aloe was derived from the Arabic word “Alloeh” which means shiny bitter substance and the word vera comes from the Latin word “verus” which means true.
The gel found inside the pulpy leaves is a popular natural remedy. In ancient times, aloe was known as the “plant of immortality” and was given to Egyptian pharaohs as a funeral gift. Today, the gel is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.
What does aloe vera taste like?
The leaves consist of three parts: the outer skin, the gel and the latex, sometimes referred to as sap. Most people apply the gel to their skin, but it can also be consumed. It has a clean, refreshing taste and can be added to a variety of recipes.
It is important to wash the freshly extracted gel thoroughly to remove latex residues that can give it an unpleasant bitter taste. In contrast, the skin, or outer part of the leaf, is generally safe. It has a delicate taste and a crunchy texture, which is ideal for adding variety to summer salads.
What does aloe vera contain?
Aloe vera contains many substances that provide it with a number of beneficial substances. The inner gel contains 99% water and the remaining part is made up of amino acids, glucomannans, sterols, lipids and vitamins. Latex is a yellow sap containing glycosides and anthraquinones.
In the leaves at least 160 important components have been identified. Among the vitamins in aloe vera, we can find vitamin A, C, E and some vitamins of the B group, for example B1, B2, B6 and B12. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc and sodium.
Aloe vera gel or aloe vera juice?
There are two useful parts of the aloe vera plant, the gel and the juice, or latex. Gel refers to a thick substance that comes from the inner parts of the leaves. Fresh aloe gel can be applied directly to the skin or added to food or drinks, or it can be used to make health supplements. Drinking aloe-based drinks is popular. It is usually a gel diluted with water, two tablespoons of aloe gel are recommended for one cup of water.
The second substance produced by the plant is often referred to as sap, but latex is more appropriate. It is a yellow liquid that is located just below the outer surface of the plant leaf and contains the substance aloin. Aloe latex has been shown to have laxative properties and is usually taken orally to treat constipation.
What is the best way to get fresh gel?
Getting the gel is fairly simple:
- Choose 3-4 leaves, prefer strong leaves from the outer parts of the plant.
- Make sure they are healthy and free of mold or damage.
- Cut the leaves close to the stem, most of the beneficial nutrients are found at the base of the leaves.
- Wash and dry the leaves.
- Trim the spiky edges with a knife.
- Use a knife or your fingers to separate the inner gel from the outside of the leaf.
- Allow the latex to drain from the sheet. If you want to use it, you can capture it in a container.
- Cut the aloe gel into slices or cubes and wash thoroughly before use.
If you want a smooth aloe gel, you can put it in a blender.
What is aloe vera good for?
This succulent has a long history of medicinal use. The first mentions date back to ancient Egypt 6000 years ago. It has also been an important part of traditional Chinese and Arab medicine for centuries. The plant can be used locally and orally.
- Heartburn Relief – Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder that often leads to heartburn. Studies suggest that consuming aloe during meals can reduce discomfort while also easing other digestive-related problems.
- Alternative to mouthwash – aloe extract is a safe and effective alternative to mouthwash. Natural ingredients with antibacterial properties help fight dental plaque, support the treatment of some diseases of the teeth and oral cavity. They can also bring relief if you have bleeding, swollen gums or canker sores.
- Lowering blood sugar levels – research has revealed that consuming two tablespoons of aloe vera juice daily leads to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
- A natural laxative – aloe vera juice contains anthraquinone glycosides, plant compounds with laxative effects that help relieve constipation.
- Skin care – thanks to the leaves with a high water content and special plant compounds, aloe is an effective means of moisturizing and soothing the skin. According to research, it also activates fibroblasts, a type of cell found in connective tissue that increase the production of collagen and elastin fibers.
- Burns and skin conditions – aloe vera is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties. It is often used to treat and alleviate some skin problems, such as burns, minor wounds and atopic dermatitis. In addition, it prevents itching, which is why it is popular for soothing insect bites.
Topical use is generally well tolerated, although skin irritation and allergic reactions are possible. Do not use aloe vera even on serious injuries or deep burns. Oral use of aloe is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of twelve.
The laxative effects of aloe vera can prevent the absorption of oral medications and reduce their effectiveness. Do not take aloe internally if you suffer from hemorrhoids, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
How to consume aloe vera?
You can eat aloe pieces raw or cook them in gentle ways, such as poaching, blanching, or steaming. By heat treatment, aloe releases more water and acquires a milder taste.
- The easiest way is to consume aloe in the form of a drink. Just mix the blended gel with, for example, orange juice or add it to healthy smoothie recipes .
- Another option is to mix aloe vera gel into white yogurt, for example with pieces of fresh fruit. Do you know how to make your own homemade yogurt without a yogurt maker ?
- Do you like candied fruit? Make your own candied aloe vera. Just mix the pieces of gel with sugar and leave in a closed jar for several days. Aloe syrup can be prepared in a similar way. In that case, it is necessary to lightly boil the aloe pieces with sugar.
- In Asian cuisine, aloe is often added to salads. Either simply mix the pieces of gel with the other ingredients, they go well with, for example, carrots and apples, or use it to prepare a salad dressing . You can also add the green outer skin of the leaves to the salad.
- Alternatively, you can enjoy the skin left over after removing the gel from the leaves by dipping it into salsa or homemade hummus . If the outer part of the leaves is too hard for you to chew, you can soak it in water for 10-20 minutes before eating.
- An interesting option is to mix pieces of aloe with honey, heat the mixture slightly, but do not boil.
- Last but not least, aloe gel can be used to make homemade ice cream .
Aloe vera storage
It is best to consume aloe vera immediately, but if necessary, the leaves can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. In both cases, it is advisable to wrap the leaves in food foil or put them in plastic bags. Allow frozen leaves to thaw at room temperature for several hours before use.
You can also store the gel in the fridge or freezer. Put it in a jar or plastic bag. You may notice that the gel will partially change color over time. It’s alright.
Aloe vera cultivation
Today, even in our conditions, aloe vera is relatively commonly grown as a houseplant in a flowerpot. It is characterized by its massive lanceolate leaves with jagged edges that grow from a basal rosette. Under suitable conditions, spiky flowers in shades of yellow, red or orange appear at the end of the stems.
Aloe is a hardy plant, but it needs suitable conditions to grow:
- Well-drained soil – aloe vera prefers drier conditions, so it needs to be planted in well-drained soil. For this reason, a mix for succulents or cacti is often recommended.
- Indirect light – place the plant in a location with plenty of filtered or indirect sunlight, such as on a kitchen shelf or a few feet from a window.
- Adequate watering – the most common cause of death of indoor aloe vera plants is overwatering. A good rule of thumb is to water the plant deeply every two weeks.
- Heat – plants are sensitive to extreme cold and extreme heat, they do best at temperatures around 20-25°C.