Today I spent some time experimenting with my Stevia. I finally have enough leaves on the plant this year to do some playing around. I’ve been wanting to learn to use fresh Stevia to sweeten a good part of my baked goods and teas, so I harvested about 2/3 of my plants and got busy in the kitchen.
It has been quite rainy here, which you would think would clean the plants, but since I don’t have much mulch around the base of my Stevia the mud splashed up off the ground and got the undersides of the lower leaves on the plant dirty. So, my first order of business was to wash the freshly picked Stevia.
To do this I filled my sink with cold water, and swished the leaves around in it. I then drained the dirty water out and filled the sink for one more rinse.
Next, I discarded the stems, and spun the leaves in a salad spinner to remove the excess water. You’ll want to pick out any dead or bad looking leaves. Some of my leaves had brown spots on them, but if they weren’t too bad I kept them in with the rest.
In a medium sized pot, get 2 cups of water almost to a boil. Be sure not to bring it to a full boil, as this can damage the Stevia. Add 1 cup of slightly bruised leaves (they will probably be bruised already from the washing and spinning if you go through those steps), and remove the pot from the heat. Cover, and allow to steep for about an hour.
Using a coffee filter, strain the liquid into a clean container. It’ll be a nice, greenish color. Store your Stevia extract in a glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It’s recommended that you store the extract in a dark container, but I didn’t have one so I put my jar in a brown paper bag instead.
Before putting my finished product up, we all tasted a sample of it. Whew, was it SWEET!
I’m anxious to use my extract in some new recipes. For a few recipe ideas, check out Mother Earth News’ Article, Naturally Sweet Stevia Recipes.