DAYS TO SPROUT
TASTE IT FOR
CARE & HARVEST
Wait until branches are at least 8 inches long. Cut branches halfway and hang to dry in a well ventilated area. Remove leaves from branches once stems snap instead of bend. Grind leaves to use as a sugar substitute, or add directly to teas or drinks as a sweetener.
Native to Paraguay, stevia has long been used as an herbal sweetener. As early as 500 AD, the Guarani people used stevia in hot mate to cut the bitter flavor. Stevia is said to be 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way.
Stevia is most commonly used as a sugar substitute but is also believed to be anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertensive, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
HARVEST TO PLATE RECIPE
- Fresh stevia leaves
- Clean glass jar with lid
- *NOTE: The amount of ingredients you need will depend on how much stevia extract you want to make. I made a fairly small batch this time around, so I only ended up using about 1 cup of vodka, and a handful of chopped leaves. Depending on how many stevia plants you have, you can make a big batch, or just a small one.
- Wash the leaves and remove them from the stem. Discard any wilted or brown leaves, and coarsely chop the rest.
- Place the leaves into a clean, glass jar. I filled my jar to the top, but I didn’t pack the leaves down.
- Fill the jar with vodka, making sure the leaves are completely covered.
- Place the lid on securely, and give it a good shake and set it aside.
- Let the leaves steep in the vodka for around 48 hours. This is a much shorter time frame than many other extracts, but if you let it sit more than a day or two, the resulting stevia extract is pretty darn bitter.
- After 48 hours, strain the leaves from the vodka (I also gave my leaves a good squeeze to smoosh out every last bit of extract).
- Pour the extract into small saucepan and heat it gently for 20 minutes. Do not let it boil, just warm it up to remove the alcohol and improve the sweetness. It will also thicken up a bit and reduce in volume.
- Pour your finished extract into a small bottle (I like one with a dropper–it makes it easier to use) and store it in the fridge. It should last several months.