Aloe, My Darling

The aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadenis) is such a multipurpose plant.  It has been used for centuries for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.  The Egyptians used it in 1500 B.C. to treat burns, infections, and parasites.  Aloe is still used the same way today.  It is said to cleanse the body and act as a digestive agent.

Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe vera doesn’t grow well in cold climates long-term, but it can tolerate cold for short periods.  In my zone 9b, in Southwest Florida, it grows great.  I’ve never covered it and it has survived many continuous hard freezes.   My aloe garden turns a little yellowish and sometimes burns at the tips after the cold, but it always turns really green again when it warms up.  Aloe prefers good drainage.  Although, I’ve noticed that aloe isn’t that picky about where it grows and likes to grow in pots.  It’s an easy plant to grow and every household should have one.  It’s recommended for growing in zones 8-11, but if you grow it in a pot you could bring it in the house for the winter.

It has beautiful flowers that grow on a stalk and flower profusely.  Our hummingbirds love these flowers.  When the flowers are finished blooming, cut off the stalks and discard them.  The lizards love to hide in it.

Aloe vera plant in bloom

The leaves of the aloe vera plant are the most incredible remedy for burns, especially sunburns.  You just take a knife and cut a leaf off the plant.  Hold the leaf tightly because it is mucilaginous inside and will get slippery.  Slice the edges off the leaf with the knife.  It will cut through the leaf easily, like you are cutting through butter.  Next, slice the leaf in half and rub it all over your sunburn and let it dry.  It’s even better if you let it cool in the refrigerator before rubbing it on.  Aloe is also a miraculous remedy for scratches, rashes, cuts, insect bites and bee stings, especially on kids.  An important note is to never use aloe on a staph infection.  It seals the bacteria which creates an environment to allow the staph to multiply.  It is also important to avoid the  inedible, green-yellow part of the plant at the base of the plant’s stalk.

Aloe Vera Slices

The Gel inside the Aloe Vera Leaf

My absolute favorite way to use aloe vera is to drink it.  I slice it up into long sections and then just scrape the gel off the leaf with my knife right into my blender.  I use about two leaves.  I fill my blender container with mostly water and a little grape juice.  I scrape some aloe gel in and I add lots of honey to sweeten it. Some people like to use orange juice instead of grape juice, but I love the grape juice.  I remember being told a long time ago to always cut the aloe under water because it removes the aloin (sticky brown liquid).  However, I’ve never bothered to do this.

Aloe Vera leaves on a Lignum Vitae Cutting Board from Portland, Jamaica

A wonderful and unique recipe I found for aloe is from Gloria Williams of Bath, St. Thomas, Jamaica.  She made aloe vera wine for the judges at the 2008 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Festival of Foods.  She left with a gold medal.  It’s made with 5 stalks of aloe vera, 2 pounds of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of raisins, 8 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of yeast, and the juice of one orange.  Peel the aloe and cut it into cubes and add it to a container with the raisins, orange, and sugar.  Next, boil the water and pour over the aloe vera mixture.  Then, dissolve the yeast in luke warm water and pour the yeast into the cooled aloe vera mixture.  Cover and let it remain for 21 days, stirring occasionally.  Strain and put the wine into a sterilized bottle.   I haven’t made this wine yet, but I definitely plan on it.

Our Aloe Vera Garden (lizard hunter in the background)

Come grow with us!


13 Responses to “Aloe, My Darling”

  1. Hello, aren’t the Aloe bitter?


    • Yes, I would describe it’s flavor as very bitter. In my opinion, it needs to be mixed with other stuff such as sugar, water, grape juice, orange juice, etc. in order to be palatable. I don’t use much of it when I blend it into a drink.

  2. use the center of the gel the layer closes to the leaf has a slimy substance that is very bitter, this bitter part is also a laxative be careful because i read some where that it is strong enough to be used to give horses a purge. i think that is why they wanted you to cut it under a pipe.

    ps. i know a company which uses pineapples to help make it taste better, i guess that’s worth a try

  3. Can you add just a little bit of 99.95% aloe juice to the glass of wine and give it a little stir and it would almost be the same thing ?

  4. I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this web site on regular basis to get updated from hottest gossip.

  5. hey thanks for you article about aloe! i read that aloe can only be harvested for usage after 2 years of growth. can you confirm that? is that when you harvest as well?
    also there are many different types of aloe. do you know if they all have the same qualities?
    i cut a leaf from my aloe and its only about 1.5 inches wide. andd when i cut it there is no juice dripping out of the leaf but only a slimy yellow substance that covers the harder, seethrough “meat” thats inside the leaf. it doesnt seem to correspond with all the descriptions of having to drain the juice before using the meaty gel inside the leaf. any ideas?

  6. shirley landon Says:

    is there any aloe that is poisionus ?(it has a flowering stalk)

  7. I have many aloe plants in my back yard (SW FL), but most of them face the SW where the hot afternoon sun comes in at them. Those in that area almost always suffer from browning stems, no matter how much I water them. Sandy soil but mulched around the plants, drains fast. Is the browning from too much hot sun? The ones in my orchid porch area covered with shade cloth seem to do very well, I think aloe cannot take this hot direct afternoon sun we get here. What do you think? Thank you!

    • I agree. I’ve noticed that my aloe in part shade tends to look better than my aloe planted in full sun as well. It seems to like a bit of protection.

  8. Living in Jamaica for many years I made Aloe vera wine in the 80th under the company name Peko International. My customers were the South Korean Embassy ,a gentleman who had a Antique business just beside Devon House and many more. I just finished a little bottle I had left from that time and it was delectable even after 30 years

    • I bet your wine was fabulous!I’m glad to hear it was still delicious after all that time. Thanks for sharing! I have many fond memories of Devon House.

  9. Katherine Says:

    My Husband and I are very happy to find this recipe, thank you for posting, we are gonna try it in the next few weeks and hopefully post back about our great experience, one questions, can you drink some right after the 21 days? or should it sit longer. Thank you again

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