If you have been following along in recent months, you probably know that I am a big fan of fermentation. That is, I like cultured cuisines and cultured beverages not only for their tastes, but more importantly, for their health benefits.
When most people think of fermented beverages, they usually think about the alcohol content; but I’ll kill that buzz because that’s not what I’m talking about. What I am referring to is the probiotic content of raw unpreserved cultured foods and beverages including sauerkraut, kimchi, yougurt, Kefir, kombucha, and kvass. Sure, there are more. But those that I listed are my personal favorites and household staples. These are the things that help keep our guts flowing smoothly.
Now you may have noticed that aloe Vera did not make my “favorite ferments” list. That is not to say that it doesn’t ferment; indeed it does! But fermented aloe Vera… let’s just say that aloe Vera can be difficult enough to drink when it is fresh and that the taste and texture does not that get any better with age.
So why on earth would I be writing about fermented aloe Vera? Because if you have been a customer of ours for any period of time, you have probably already consumed fermented aloe Vera!
By now you might be wondering why we sold you fermented aloe Vera and didn’t tell you. Actually, we didn’t! But, Stockton Aloe 1 brand has NOT been pasteurized and does NOT have any bacteria killers (preservatives) in it. Although this may be a good thing, having a juice without any preservatives will allow fermentation to occur given enough time within a certain temperature range. It would be like squeezing fresh grapes to make grape juice. Even if you just leave it in your refrigerator for a week or two, eventually you will have wine; it might even get a little effervescent – especially if it has a tightly sealed cap.
Just last week, my wife and I both had a glass of fizzy fermented aloe Vera. Usually our family will drink a half gallon bottle of gel in a few days. But this bottle some how disappeared into the back on the lowest shelf. It was hidden behind the watermelon that was waiting for the labor day of relaxation. It had been at least a week since we originally thawed and drank from this particular bottle. But this time, when I re-opened it, I heard a the familiar sound that comes from 12 ounce dark glass bottle with a twist off top – yes, you guessed it – kombucha!
Upon pouring the aloe, it seemed to flow with an extra thick slippery consistency that couldn’t be stopped. I thought for a moment that I might need a knife or scissors to separate the gel that was going into my glass from the gel coming out of the bottle. But as I diverged the two enough, the gel snapped and then slimmed down the edges of the two vessels.
I raised the glass to my lips for a taste. Upon contact, I could feel the sparkling nature of a light ferment. The taste was not at all pleasant. Despite to FDA bacteria warning on the side of the bottle, I decided to down the whole glass, 8 ounces, in just a few gulps. I suppose the only way I could have drank it faster was if I was back in college with my roommate “Super Dave” who was always happy to hold a 16 ounce beer funnel for a friend in need.
As time passed, I realized that once again I escaped the dreaded consequences of the potential pathogenic bacteria as warned by the FDA that, so far, must not have been in my drink to begin with.
So why am I bringing this to your attention now? A few weeks ago I returned from the Dominican Republic. I was there to supervise the processing of our recent harvest. As I taste tested the aloe Vera several times per day at the various points of production, I realized that we were indeed capturing the absolute best product our company has ever produced. The aloe Vera was thicker and tastier than ever before. We even eliminated one of the steps in our usual process – rinsing the fillets before they go into the grinder. What I didn’t know was that this batch of gel would ferment sooner than previous harvests.
Based on our experience in the last few weeks and testing the gel, we once again cleared microbiology testing (no pathogenic bacteria detected). However, we are realizing that in the refrigerator, the gel will indeed begin to noticeably ferment around day 7. It may occur sooner or later depending on the temperature of your refrigerator.
What We Are Doing About It
We realize that a clean ferment is not a harmful thing. However, it is NOT desirable with aloe Vera. Therefore, we will include an extra small bottle or two with instructions on how to get the most out of your aloe Vera. That is, should you thaw a bottle that you do NOT plan on finishing within 1 week, we recommend that you pour the aloe Vera into manageable portions, such as into 8 ounce bottles, to refreeze them in the smaller portions for use at a later date. Remember to leave about 15 – 20% space in the bottle for expansion of the aloe during freezing. We recommend BPA free plastic bottles since Aloe vera expands too much for glass and glass is especially fragile at frozen temperatures.
You can freeze and thaw aloe vera multiple times as long as it is kept cold. Your total thaw time should not exceed 1 week for maximum freshness.