Aloe is a species of succulents that contains over 400 varieties of plants. The best known of these is the aloe vera, a variety of aloe known for the medicinal properties found in the pulp of its leaves. Aloe is a low-growing plant with a number of sword-shaped leaves that have spines along the margin and a thick, fleshy texture. The plant may grow directly on the ground with the leaves in a tight rosette or on a stem. Although aloe plants are sometimes grown as an ornamental species, they are more frequently harvested for the gel-like pulp in their leaves.
Locate an aloe plant with leaves that you would like to harvest. Aloe leaves should be unbruised, thick and fleshy.
Select a leaf that is suitable for harvesting. Start with the leaves from the exterior of the plant, rather than the inner leaves.
Grasp the end of the aloe leaf in one hand, being careful not to prick yourself along the spiny margins. Gently pull the leaf away from the plant, exposing the interior of the leaf along the base.
Slice through the base of the leaf with a sharp knife or a garden spade.
Hold the leaf away from you so that the cut faces downward and allow the plant resin to drain away. The aloe's gel will remain behind once resin has drained.
Place your aloe leaf on a cutting board. Hold your knife parallel to the cutting board and slice away the skin in a strip on the back of the aloe leaf. Leave the skin where it curves at a 45-degree angle
Shift your knife to a 45-degree angle and cut away the side pieces of the back part of the leaf from the center strip to the spines at the side.
Shift the knife back so that it is parallel to the cutting board, and gently cut the aloe gel out of the remaining skin.