Sunday, March 13, 2011

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is most typically associated with beauty products. You can also use in cuisine. Aloe Vera is a perennial plant in the Lilacea family. It originated in eastern and southern Africa. People first, and still to this day use it for its medicinal properties. Usually these plants need to mature for up to 5 years before it can be considered for use. In order to make this plant palatable you must first remove its skin. You will then be left with a very sticky and undesirable mass. You must take this mass and soak it in water baths (changing the water every couple of hours) until all of the resinous matter has been thouroughly cleansed. You will then be left with a translucent vegetable that has a very gelatinous texture, and in my opinion a very unique and interesting flavor. Aloe can be used as a thickener/ emulsifier, and even as a gelling agent. To properly disperse and hydrate the aloe in your aqueous medium you must emulsify it into whatever you wish to thicken/emulsify/gel and bring this mixture to a boil. It has emulsification properties close to that of soy lecithin. Its gelling capibility is similar to that of a standard protein based gelatin. I really believe that aloe has a wide range of use in the pastry kitchen. It has a very pleasant taste when properly handled and treated. The only downfall to this pant is the time it takes to properly mature (3-5 years). A lot of companies now sell already processed aloe that is ready to eat/drink. The plant has a vast array of medical and well as nutritional benefits to its consumption. It contains many nutrients that your body craves on a daily basis including Vitamin C, and antioxidants. I have used aloe in the past to make sorbet that I "pacotized" which came out very pleasing. It was paired with strawberries and black sesame. I would love to experiment more with its gelling and emulsifying properties, rather than just in its raw state. Below is a picture of the plant before processing


  1. When raw and rubbed on the skin, it has a cooling effect. Does it have a similar effect in the mouth?

  2. No... Not that I have noticed it has a kind of tropical floral taste to it. I know what you mean about the cooling effect on the skin though. Maybe the cooling effect comes from the gooey matter surrounding the flesh. And all of the aloe that I have eaten has had this matter removed because it is so bitter.