From sunburn cure to cooling drink
Known as “the plant of immortality,” aloe vera is among the most versatile gifts from nature.
Aloe vera gel is an ancient, natural remedy that could heal, soothe and soften the skin. It’s especially effective in treating sunburn and many people would carry a small bottle in the summer.
Fresh aloe vera isn’t often consumed as food directly. It’s not an easy ingredient to come across in the supermarket, and the handling of fresh aloe vera leaves requires certain techniques.
Some people would keep aloe vera plants at home. They are easy to care for and grow quite quickly in an ideal environment. But not all aloe vera species are edible.
Aloe vera barbadensis miller is edible, while Aloe vera var. chinensis is not. The latter non-edible aloe vera plant has spotted leaves, is blue-green in color and in a different form to the succulent, thick leaves of the edible species.
The large, fatty leaves of edible aloe vera plants can be cut off to make some very refreshing drinks, desserts and even savory dishes for warm days.
The first step is to clean the aloe vera leaves. After rinsing them under running water, slice the spiky spines off on both sides of the leaves as well as cutting off the stem end. Cut the long leaves into small chunks and soak the pieces in water for 10 minutes.
If you want to have a smooth, tender aloe vera gel, completely remove all the green skin and latex layer (the yellow liquid between the gel and the skin) to avoid a slight bitterness. All traces of dirt and residue should be thoroughly removed. You can wash off the sticky juice by rinsing the aloe vera gel repeatedly under water.
Fresh aloe vera has a clean, refreshing taste. The older the aloe vera plant, the more succulent the flavor.
Although fresh aloe vera gel can be eaten raw, it can also be boiled in water for extra safety assurance. Sweet aloe vera cubes are made by boiling the fresh aloe vera gel flesh in sugared water, which can be flavored with additional jujube, raisins or goji berries as well.
Small aloe vera cubes are added directly to beverages. The light-flavored aloe vera can add a pleasant texture to sweet and sour drinks, as well as a distinct freshness. Popular recipes include passionfruit and honey tea, lemonade, watermelon juice, apple green tea and grape juice soda.
Milk tea shops often offer aloe vera as an added ingredient to elevate the drinks, but these often contain a high amount of sugar, and some extra firm and chewy varieties may include other edible gum.
In making savory dishes, aloe vera works great in cold salads and appetizers as a jelly-like topping for adding a refreshing taste as well as cooling down the more distinct flavors like chili or garlic.
Because the flesh is soft and tender, there’s one creative idea of using aloe vera as a fish substitute in dishes like Peruvian-style fish ceviche, which features a sour, appetizing lime and lemon juice-based broth alongside herbs, sweet potato, onion, toasted corn and more.
The green skin of aloe vera (without any latex residue) is safe to eat. It has a crunchy texture and can be added to salads.
Aloe vera is known for its anti-inflammatory properties for both the skin and body as a medicinal plant, including lowering blood sugar levels, easing constipation or offering relief for digestive problems.
It’s always recommended to buy aloe vera leaves from a reliable source, or consult a botanist for clear instructions on whether the aloe vera you are bringing home is suitable as food.
Fresh aloe vera should be consumed in very moderate quantities as excess intake may cause diarrhea, and it’s necessary to avoid the ingredient during pregnancy. Some people may also have an allergic reaction when eating aloe vera.
Bottled aloe vera juice and aloe vera capsules are available on websites such as iherb.com as a supplement. It can be mixed in other cool beverages and best consumed 30 minutes before a meal.
Egyptian beauty secret
The majority of the aloe vera gel products in Chinese supermarkets are for external use on the skin.
As a natural source of antioxidants and vitamins E and C, aloe vera gel can soothe the effects of sunburn, relieve skin irritation, help with acne and is an effective moisturizer for the skin.
The price of aloe vera beauty products varies, depending on the brand and quality of the ingredients. Cheaper aloe vera gels may contain more additives such as essence, alcohol or artificial colorings.
When choosing an aloe vera gel product for the skin, the higher the percentage the better. Avoid those that contain more additives as they may irritate the skin further.
Some people would also use aloe vera gel on the hair as a scalp mask to add moisture.
Aloe vera and lily bulb dessert
Fresh lily bulbs are now available in supermarkets at very affordable prices. They are a very popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine that also boast health benefits. The fresh lily bulbs save the trouble of rehydrating the dried type. They are crunchier and fresher in taste.
1 piece of fresh aloe vera leaf
1 fresh pear
40-50 grams of fresh lily bulb
Prepare the fresh aloe vera leaf according to the tips above. The thicker the leaf, the better the gel. Cut the aloe vera gel into small cubes.
Peel the pear and also cut it into small cubes. Rinse the fresh lily bulb thoroughly. Add rock sugar to taste.
Boil the aloe vera cubes in water for about 10 minutes, then add the lily bulbs and cook for another two. Add the pears last as they may become sour and soggy after a longer cooking time.
The sweet soup can be served warm or chilled depending on preference.