Aloe vera is a well-known balm for treating sunburn, minor burns, and moisturizing skin and hair.
While it is best known for its external use on dry or burnt skin, aloe is also an edible ally. You can easily add fresh aloe to a smoothie, mix it into a glass of juice, or stir it into any food to use its mucilaginous properties internally to soothe the digestive system.
The aloe that you find sold in plastic bottles is useful, but you can also easily harvest and freeze aloe gel from a healthy houseplant!
Aloe is easy to grow indoors in just about any area of the world. If your aloe is doing very well, it can grow so large that it begins to topple over. Pruning the leaves is an important part of caring for the aloe plant as well as being a wonderful source of a healing balm for your own use.
How to Harvest Fresh Aloe Vera Gel
Trim the aloe
Take a good look at the plant you intend to harvest and be sure that it is strong and healthy. Choose a thick, long leaf from the bottom of the plant. Use a pair of sharp, clean scissors or a sharp knife to cut off the leaf as close to the trunk as possible.
Let the aloe drain
Set the cut aloe leaf upright in a small jar or dish, with the cut side down. After a few minutes, you’ll see a red or yellowish liquid draining out of the leaf. This is normal, and it is called aloin. This mucilaginous gel can cause stomach pain and diarrhea, so give it about 10-15 minutes to drain out.
Harvest the aloe gel
Place the drained leaf on a clean cutting surface and carefully slice off the spiked edges with a sharp knife. Use the knife to carefully cut and lift the top of the green part away from the clear aloe flesh.
Once done, you can flip the leaf over and repeat on the other side. You will be left with a clear, gooey, but mostly solid slab of aloe.
That’s all it takes! You can use your fresh aloe gel immediately to soothe burns or to make a smoothie, or add to homemade shampoo.
If you have harvested more aloe leaves than you currently need, you can freeze aloe vera gel to use later. Recently, I had to harvest many leaves from my aloe plant as it was being transplanted to a new pot. Rather than let the bounty of my necessary harvest go to waste, I froze the gel.
How to Freeze Aloe Vera Gel
Once you have sliced your aloe free from the green leaves, add the slabs of clear gel to a blender. A few gentle pulses is all it takes to change the solid aloe gel into a more pourable state.
Pour the gel into ice cube trays and place the tray into the freezer and let it rest until the cubes are solid.
Use a clearly labeled jar or bag to store the aloe cubes in your freezer.
Having a stash of frozen aloe means that you are well-prepared! A gentle healer is right at hand. You can add one or two aloe cubes to a smoothie, or rub them on sunburned shoulders.
Brown, N. K. (2003, July 17). Aloe Vera – A Review of the Scientific Literature. Retrieved from http://www.nancykbrown.com/images/stories/