Let's make some elderberry syrup today
When flowers jump from your painting

From a verdant garden in Grenada - My attempt to be as brilliant as an Aloe Vera plant - making a delicious carrot and apple flavoured juice from an Aloe Vera leaf

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Once upon a time (about three years ago) I took part in a tiny craft fair in a location recommended by a friend  .... I decided in advance that for the very first time I would present my own hand made soaps - and one of these would be my own Aloe Vera soap. During the event, on a very hot weekend day, in full sun, in a pretty but airless scented rose garden, I kept asking myself why I had agreed to take part in such an event ... anyway ... I forgot that everything is for a reason - that I was going to have my answer in a couple of hours........... Just before the end of the fair an elderly, well mannered lady in a pretty floral dress approached me ........and proceeded to ask me about my love of making soaps, and about my Aloe Vera soap in particular.... After getting to know each other a bit, out of the blue she asked me if... I would like to have an Aloe Vera plant as a gift from her.

A few days later, in her lovely top-floor flat overlooking the tree lined Eastbourne Golf Club fairways, the conversation took us to our stories......and to stories of her younger days when, together with her husband, she had "arrived" in the West Indies ... sailing a catamaran, from Island to Island (as those of  certain way do)... simply enjoying life to the full. While ashore on the Island of Grenada they discovered that a new friend, a local family, were having a home built in a huge, naturally abundant garden overlooking the blue ocean.....and, naturally an invitation was forthcoming to see it .... as there was another building plot in the same green, verdant garden site available, next to their new friends .... so, why not, they were footloose, free spirited, so of course they bought the plot, slowly built a garden home from local materials and then spent many many years there. I loved her stories about the garden, so full of exotic plants, including the many many Aloe Vera which had earned the reputation among locals for being absolutely amazing in terms of medicinal properties, something she and her family then experienced during their long years surrounded by the best GP they ever had -  Aloe Vera. 

Years later, there she was on the balcony in Eastbourne, a lovely Aloe Vera plant, itself a daughter of her Grenada Island garden mother .......and together with Peter we received her into our own family along with a happy soul full of stories, of beautiful memories of life in Grenada that most of us can only dream of (before understanding that at that time in their young lives all they had was a boat and their own dream). Our lovely Aloe Vera plant had also become a mother - she had three babies growing in the pot alongside her, babies who are now living their own lives in the homes of three of my dear friends. Each time I visit them I "visit" them.....loving to see their progress.

As many of you know, I love experimenting with new food recipes. So, yesterday, I decided to try and make .... Aloe Vera juice from my very own plant. Over the years of course I had bought Aloe Vera juice from a dear friend who had built a Forever Living practice but I wondered if I could find a recipe and make my own....... Youtube is a great teacher !!!... there are so many videos that teach you everything you need to know about this and that. So, Peter learned how to carefully harvest a few leaves so as not to harm the plant and I went on a research phase for recipes. It was a team effort all the way and we both enjoyed it a lot! Before showing you a step by step process, let me tell you that you can also buy individual Aloe Vera leaves from ethnic shops - three years ago I bought my first Aloe Vera leaf from an Iranian shop in Eastbourne. I am sure if you check on line you can outsource one or two locally. From them you can make a batch of basic juice and freeze it safely.

Here are the steps

1. Harvest just a few leaves with a sharp, really really clean knife, not too many leaves in relation to the size of the plant, working from the bottom of the plant, using the opportunity to remove imperfect leaves, if any.  

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2. Put the cut leaves into a big bucket of water, with the cut end facing down into the bucket - for 15 to 20 minutes. Why? Because you need to naturally release and remove any yellow liquid, a laxative like no other so be careful. 

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3. Remove the spiky edges of the leaves by carefully sliding the knife along the edge of the leaf just as if you were de-spiking a fresh fish (but really simple instead), and cut-off the narrow tips of the leaves, to leave a liquid full, fat leaf, ready for skinning - oooooh! 

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4. Now peel the leaves with a kitchen "potato" peeler, catching the top or bottom of the leaf in the peeler and pulling down, all the way to the other end - just like peeling an orange in one go. 

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5. What will remain is a beautiful clear gel, an extraordinary, very slippery gel "fish". Put the gel into a fresh pot of water, making sure before you do that any remaining bits of the outer green leaves are all removed.

6. Put the Aloe Vera in a blender with just a little bit of water and wiz it until the content is really smooth. 

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7. I have seen quite a few different approaches from this step forward .... some people put the blended juice through a sieve (this is what I did as well) - this way you obtain a nice, clear juice. 

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8. This step is again for you to enjoy and to be creative. I added about half a carrot and half an apple and wizz it again. The result is really really delicious. I will mix the Aloe Vera juice with cucumber next time and blueberries, raspberries ... there are endless possibilities. 

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Keep the blended juice in the fridge (it is really lovely when cool) and enjoy in small quantities at a time, a glass the size of an egg cup - Enjoy! 

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