Shelf Life: I've been slimed!

By Wynter Holden

I've seen canned aloe vera at the Phoenix Ranch Market, but I can't imagine how that's appetizing. In college, I had an aloe plant named Fanny. If I burned myself on a candle (which I did often, since I was totally goth and had a candelabra in my dorm), I would lovingly trim one of Fanny's leaves and rub in on the burn. She was also great for sunburn relief. But I couldn't imagine hacking off a leaf and frying it up for dinner.

The slimy, gooey insides of the plant always looked like snot and smelled like the girls' locker room to me. I didn't mind slathering it on my arm, if it would help, but I wouldn't stick it in my mouth even if I burned my tongue and it swelled to the size of a baseball.

Holistic health nuts argue that aloe is great for internal as well as external use. The plant is rumored to strengthen your immune system, lubricate joints and improve digestion (personally I'll just eat the yogurt). Some doctors in the medical community agree, at least partially, with those claims. Others say that aloe should never be eaten. Thus far, I'm siding with the latter group.

When I saw these cute aloe vera dessert cups near the peanut butter bars at my local Asian market, I was willing to at least give them a shot. They were small and looked like lime Jell-O with fruit trapped inside. Not too daunting. In fact, my buddies Ms. A. and Mr. B. were also willing to participate in my at-home aloe experiment...

We each grabbed a cup of the green jelly and a dessert spoon. The first challenge is opening the package, which sticks together like the lid was secured with crazy glue. Best to just hack the thing open with a kitchen knife. Luckily, Ms. A was holding hers over the sink as she broke the seal, because out oozed a stream of neon green liquid. Mmm. Nothing whets my appetite more than a dessert that looks like the slime from the Ghostbusters films.

We all giggled nervously and (gulp!) dug in. Really, except for the half-liquid, half-gel texture, it wasn't half bad. Tasted like watery peach-flavored Jell-O with a couple of fruity chunks in it (this was the aloe vera "meat"). After one spoonful each, the three of us shrugged our shoulders and poured the rest of our cups down the garbage disposal. It wasn't awful, but the peach flavoring and sugar listed in the ingredients probably covered up that sweaty locker room taste.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden