Cultivation and harvesting
Pandrosia farms its entire Aloe vera crop on private property in Kos of Greece. The Drosos estate situated in the centre of the island is made up of low-lying plains, ideal for the organic agriculture of this plant. The entire cultivation process follows stringent quality control procedures, which comply with the European Economic Community standards, and organic farming is verified by state certification awarded by DIOnet (ΔΗΩ), the Greek organisation for organic products. Furthermore, the plant species which are farmed also have official verification documents and are certified Aloe barbadensis Miller species.
Harvesting involves the careful removal of three to six of the outermost mature leaves from the plant and is generally carried out three times a year and after flowering, when leaf constituents are at their maximum levels. It is important to prevent microbial contamination at this stage by ensuring proper and careful removal of each leaf. Pulling back the leaf and carefully cutting along the white base prevents any leaf rupturing and it is thus sealed from any contamination.
Apart from proper harvesting, the quality and yield of the final gel is also dependent on swift and proper leaf processing. Pandrosia has resourcefully erected its processing plant on the Drosos estate. This affords us the major benefit of very short harvest-processing time lapses. So once again, in Pandrosia when we say ''from the field to the shelf'' we really do mean it.
Processing and plant units
The processing plants of Pandrosia are situated on the Drosos estate in Pyli of Kos. In this unit, all the necessary machinery and equipment required for leaf and gel processing is assembled. By using only hand filleting methods and specialised filtration techniques, we are able to produce and pan organic gel of superior purity and quality.
After harvesting, the leaves are immediately processed. This begins with thorough washing to remove dust and foreign matter, followed by careful hand filleting of the leaves to mechanically separate and remove the inner gel matrix. The outer skin (20 to 30 mm depth) of the leaves is peeled off to reveal the gel fillet and this aloe pulp is crushed and homogenised and then subjected to filtration. The gel is maintained raw and is not sterilised through pasteurisation techniques: very high temperatures which cause reduced activity due to degradation of temperature sensitive compounds. Furthermore, the gel is also not stabilised by the addition of preservatives. The raw gel is simply packaged, sealed and refrigerated and used according to the needs of the company and its product demand.
A portion of our raw gel yield is ultimately stabilised, but not through the addition of preservatives. Stabilisation comes by transforming the raw, pure gel to a powder, in sub-zero (lower than – 50 degrees Celsius) temperatures and low pressure, through a method commonly known as freeze drying. In this way, active ingredient are not destroyed or altered by the high temperatures required by other dehydration methods.