Aloe vera is a plant that many associate with skin care, it is believed to soothe burned or dry skin, but it is edible. It takes a sense of curiosity and some knife skills, and unless cooking with aloe vera is part of your culinary heritage, pointed spears can be intimidating. Sweet drinks made with the gelatinous meat of this succulent are available almost everywhere now, and more and more grocery stores are selling the large, fresh “leaves” in the produce aisle.
Native to the Arabian Peninsula, numerous species of aloe have traveled and naturalized in most tropical regions around the world; it is loved for its minimalist appearance as a houseplant, xeriscaping in hot, dry places, and for its nutritional and presumed though not yet proven value. Gaining popularity among health-conscious herbalists and foodies, aloe vera is now widely grown commercially in warm climates, including parts of the United States, where it is processed into juices, gels, pills, lotions, and tonics for overall internal and external health and wellness. A 2015 biomedcentral.com article stated that the global aloe vera market that began as early as the 4th century BC, is worth $13 billion annually, but don’t worry, at the grocery store, a fresh spear of aloe vera will only cost you a couple of dollars.
Aloe vera is a familiar ingredient in foods and beverages in Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, in mixed drinks, soups and sauces; in curries and stews and in salads. Its flesh, or clear mesophyll, is strangely beautiful and almost tasteless with a slight “green” taste, but poorly prepared aloe that hasn’t been skinned and rinsed well can be bitter and can cause stomach problems due to aloin, a compound found in aloe vera that has a laxative effect.
Aloe vera is considered a superfood by some, an everyday vegetable by many more, and a complete mystery by others, but, once an aloe spear has been prepared, it can be mixed into a drink, or cut into cubes and used in many of the same recipes as cubes of meat or fish vegetables. or fruit: in soups, stews and curry, or julienne for salads and ceviche. Because it’s so neutral, it works just as well on sweet dishes; Try adding the crystalline cubes to a fruit salad, or poaching aloe cubes in fruit juice and serving over ice cream or yogurt. With the skin removed, its texture is tender, similar to an extra firm gelatin, although mucilaginous or viscous. But that drool can and should be rinsed.
In the GTA, aloe can be found at T&T, some FreshCo locations, and many independent Asian, Southeast Asian, and Caribbean food stores. Do not harvest aloe from potted plants and do not buy it at the garden store. There are approximately 500 species of aloe, but only aloe vera is good to eat, so stick with what’s on sale in grocery stores.
smoothie combines a couple of tropical ingredients that are found quite easily in GTA stores: aloe vera and hot pink cactus fruit or nopal. The combination of aloe and prickly pear creates a green banana-like flavor, not too sweet, and the crispy seeds of the cactus fruit will fall to the bottom if they are not completely pulverized by the blender. Maple water or sap is becoming easy to find, but can be replaced with apple or cranberry juice in a pinch. If prickly pear is not available, use any fruit you want in a smoothie.
1 large spear of aloe, peeled, washed, chopped; about 1 cup (250 ml)1
prickly pear, peeled, chopped; about 1 cup (250 ml)1 cup (250 ml) maple water or sap 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup 1 cup (250 ml) kefir or soy or fruit-flavored milk 1/2 cup
(125 ml) Ice fruit-flavored plain or favorite yogurt
all the ingredients in a blender, add a few ice cubes to cool everything and blend.
Make 2 drinks