If you’re like most people, you probably think that stevia and stevia extract are one and the same. After all, they’re both derived from the same plant, so how different could they really be? As it turns out, there is a big difference between the two, and it all has to do with processing.
And believe it or not, you can make your own stevia extract right at home! It’s easier to do than you might think.
Stevia is a popular herbal sweetener that comes from the stevia plant. The stevia plant is native to South America and has been used as a sweetener for centuries. Today, stevia is grown all over the world and is a common ingredient in many processed foods and beverages.
The leaves of the stevia plant are around 30 times sweeter than sugar, making it a popular choice for people looking for a sugar alternative.
There are two main types of stevia: Rebaudioside A (Reb A) and Stevioside. Reb A is the more commonly used form of stevia as it has little to no aftertaste, unlike Stevioside.
One of the main benefits of stevia is that it is calorie-free, making it an ideal sweetener for people watching their weight or their blood sugar levels. It is lower in carbs and absolutely delicious, too!
Additionally, stevia can help lower blood pressure and has been shown to be anti-cariogenic, meaning that it can help prevent cavities.
Stevia is a plant that is native to South America. The leaves of the plant have been used for centuries as a natural sweetener. In its natural form, stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
However, it should be noted that the degree of sweetness can vary depending on the variety of stevia plant and how the various syrups are made.
Stevia extract is derived from the stevia plant through a process of extraction and purification. This process removes many of the impurities that are present in the plant’s leaves, resulting in a more concentrated form of sweetness. As a result, stevia extract is typically 200-400 times sweeter than sugar.
There are two methods for making stevia extract – with water and with alcohol. Here’s a quick overview of each method.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the method of making stevia with water instead of alcohol, but I think it’s important to understand how both options work.
If you’re interested in making your own stevia extract at home, you might be wondering whether to use water or alcohol as the base. There are pros and cons to both methods, but overall, using water is a better option.
The first reason to make stevia extract with water instead of alcohol is that water is a better solvent. This means that it will more effectively extract the desired compounds from the stevia leaves. As a result, you’ll end up with a more potent extract.
Water is also less likely to damage the delicate compounds in stevia leaves. This is especially important if you’re planning on using the extract for culinary purposes, as damaged compounds can result in an off-flavor.
As we just mentioned, one of the benefits of using water as a solvent is that it’s less likely to damage the delicate compounds in stevia leaves. Alcohol, on the other hand, is more likely to damage these compounds.
In addition, alcohol will also extract bitter compounds along with the sweet ones. This can result in an extract that is less than pleasant to taste with a bitter aftertaste.
If you do choose to use alcohol as your solvent, be sure to use a high-proof variety so that you can more easily remove it during the evaporation process. This will let you get all the sweetness of sugar without the down side of the alcohol.
If you choose to make stevia extract with alcohol, you’ll start by chopping up your stevia leaves. You’ll need about 4 ounces of chopped leaves for every cup of alcohol (usually vodka is the alcohol used). Add the chopped leaves to a jar or bottle, then pour in the alcohol.
Seal the jar or bottle tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, strain the liquid into another container and discard the solids.
Your stevia extract is now ready to use! This method takes a bit longer, but it results in a more concentrated extract that will last longer once made.
To make stevia extract, the leaves of the stevia plant are dried and then steeped in water. The resulting solution is then filtered to remove any solids. The extract can be used in a variety of ways, such as sweetening beverages or baking recipes.
Some people also prefer to add liquid stevia extract to their coffee or tea for a more natural sweetness. While the leaves of the stevia plant are the most commonly used part to make extract, the flowers and stems can also be used.
However, these parts of the plant are less bitter than the leaves, so they may not provide as much of a sweet flavor.
How to Make Stevia Extract With Water – Step by Step
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.
How to Harvest Stevia Leaves
The best time to harvest stevia leaves is in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun gets too hot. You can either pick the leaves by hand or use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut them from the stem. Be sure to only take a few leaves from each plant so that it can continue to grow.
Once you’ve harvested your stevia leaves, you can use them fresh or dried. For making stevia extract, you’ll want to use fresh leaves.
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:
Trim and Discard Leaves
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.
“Almost” Boil Water
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 or piece of cheesecloth, strain the liquid into a clean container. It’ll be a nice, greenish color. Store your homemade liquid Stevia extract in a glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Stevia Extract Recipe
- mason jar with lid
- salad spinner
- coffee filter
- 1 cup stevia leaves
- In a medium sized pot, get 2 cups of water almost to a boil. Be sure not to bring it to a full boil.
- Add the Stevia leaves.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Cover, and allow to steep for 60 minutes.
- Using a coffee filter, strain the liquid tincture into a clean container.
How Do You Make Homemade Stevia Sugar?
Looking for one more way to use up all those stevia leaves?
Making your own stevia sugar is a great way to enjoy the sweetness of stevia without any of the potential side effects that come with other sweeteners. And it’s easy to do!
Simply mix 1 part stevia powder with 2 parts cane sugar, and voila – you have homemade stevia sugar. The ratio can be adjusted to taste, so feel free to experiment until you find the perfect level of sweetness.
It’s not quite the same as just regular stevia that you might buy at the store, but it’s an easy swap you can make at home for better health.
Not only is this sugar healthier than refined cane sugar, but it also has a more complex flavor that is perfect for baking.
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.
How to Use Stevia Leaves in Baking
If you’re interested in using stevia leaves in your baking, here are a few tips to get you started.
- Start with fresh or frozen stevia leaves. If you can’t find fresh stevia leaves, they can also be used frozen. You’ll need about 10 leaves for every cup of sugar you’re substituting.
- Stevia leaves can be used whole or ground up. If you’re using whole leaves, simply add them directly to your recipe. If you’re using ground stevia leaves, add them along with other dry ingredients such as flour and spices.
- When substituting stevia leaves for sugar, honey, or maple syrup in baking recipes, keep in mind that the leaves will not dissociate in liquid like sugar does. As a result, your baked goods may not rise as much as they would if made with sugar. To help combat this, add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of stevia used.
- Stevia leaf extract can also be used in low carb baking recipes in place of sugar. Simply substitute 1 teaspoon of extract for every 1 cup of sugar called for in the recipe.
- Finally, remember that because stevia is much sweeter than sugar, you’ll need to use less of it to achieve the same level of sweetness. When in doubt, start by substituting half the amount of sugar called for with stevia and then adjust from there according to taste.
Have you used homemade Stevia extract in your baking or to sweeten drinks? I’d love to know how you’re using it, and any advice you can share!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.