We all know the amazing health benefits of Aloe Vera, it has been used widely as alternative medicine to treat many conditions, and the aloe gel, which is the main part of the plant, has extensive uses in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
There are more than 420 species of Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller), it comes from the Liliaceae family and grows in hot and dry climates in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. Aloe Vera is a succulent, cactus-like plant, that has been used for centuries since 6,000 years ago, when the ancient Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality” because it can survive without soil, and was given as presents during the funeral of pharaohs. It is also a very popular medicinal plant in several countries like Mexico, China, Japan, India, and Greece.
Aloe Vera has from 300 to 400 vital components, including vitamins A, C, E, and B, rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, that work to eliminate free radicals, and give this amazing plant lots of health benefits such anti-inflammatory, laxative, heals acne, helps with wound healing, soothes insect bites, protects skin, helps with digestion, allergies, diarrhea, lowers blood sugar, and many more…
Aloe Vera in the Kitchen
But Aloe Vera is not only good as a medicinal plant, and few people knows about it uses in the kitchen. Yes, you read it right, we can cook with Aloe Vera. When you cook with Aloe Vera, you are adding the nutrients mentioned above to you dishes, making it a healthy and healing food, that will deliver health benefits in that particular meal.
How to identify edible parts. Both the skin and the clear inner gel in Aloe Vera are edible, but there is a yellow liquid (or sap) between the gel and the skin called the latex, that shouldn’t be eaten, as it can cause intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, or kidney failure.
How to prepare Aloe Vera. Cut the leaves from the plant’s base, using a sharp knife or blade, then cut off the spiky parts around the leaves, leaving the white parts exposed. Soak the leaves in water for 15-20 minutes to wash out the toxic latex. Repeat this step until the water is no longer yellowish. Once the latex has been removed, proceed to peel the leaves with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Peel it until all the green peel is gone, be careful not to peel the white gel, since this is the substance we will be cooking with. The hard green peel can also be saved and cooked, to top salads.
How to get it ready to cook. After peeling the Aloe Vera leaves and the gel has been separated, cut it in small pieces and smash it with a mortar, food processor, or blender. This is the part to be cooked. You can make teas and smoothies with it, add it to salsas or salads, or prepare delicious recipes. It can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Changes in color over time are normal.
How to eat it. Aloe Vera can be eaten raw in chunks or puree, or use a gentle cooking method like poaching, blanching or steaming. Cooking Aloe Vera pulp makes it release more water and gives it a milder taste, and a softer consistency. You can make Aloe Vera juice by adding aloe gel and honey to water. You can blend cubes of Aloe Vera into your favorite smoothie recipe, or top salads with it.
How to enhance the flavor. Some people find Aloe Vera a little bitter, if you don’t like its natural flavor, add lemon juice, honey, or other fruits.
Note: Not all species of Aloe Vera are edible, please do your research before cooking with it, the safest way is to buy it at a health food store or grocery store.