Growing stevia and using it as a natural sweetener on the homestead is something I’ve done for years now. It’s an incredibly easy plant to grow and use, I grow it along with my other herbs! Let me show you how to do it yourself with “Stevia: Grow, Harvest and Use Your Own Sweetener”!
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a sweetener that comes from the stevia plant. The plant is native to South America, and has been used as a sweetener in that region for centuries.
The stevia plant is a member of the Asteraceae family, which also includes sunflowers and daisies. The steviol glycosides are what give it its sweetness. These compounds are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, making it a very popular alternative to sugar.
Stevia is also calorie-free and does not cause tooth decay.
While stevia is most commonly known as a sugar substitute, it has also been used for centuries as a traditional medicine.
In South America, stevia was used to treat stomachaches and other digestive problems. It was also used as a treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Today, it is available in many forms, including powder, liquid, and extract. It can be found in many grocery stores and online retailers.
Growing a Stevia Plant
Growing stevia is relatively easy, especially if you purchase a plant from a reputable nursery, and can be successfully grown in a pot or in your garden.
If you choose to start a plant from a cutting or stevia seeds, then plant in the spring or summer. Choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight and make sure the soil is well-draining, watering regularly and fertilizing every few weeks.
Harvest leaves by cutting them from the plant when they are needed, they can be used fresh or dried.
To dry the leaves, place them on a screen or tray in a warm, sunny spot for a few days. Once dried, stevia leaves can be stored in an airtight container for several months.
How to Harvest and Dry Leaves
The best time to harvest stevia is in the morning, after the dew has evaporated but before the sun becomes too hot.
Cut the plants about 4 inches above the ground, and remove any leaves that are damaged or brown. Rinse the leaves under cool water, then dry them with a paper towel or a salad spinner.
Once the leaves are dry, they can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
You can dry the leaves in a dehydrator or by hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated area. To use dried leaves, simply grind or crush them until they reach the desired consistency. One teaspoon of dried stevia leaf is equivalent to one cup of sugar in sweetness.
How to Use Stevia in Your Cooking
When using stevia in cooking, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way.
Stevia is so sweet that you only need to use a small amount to achieve the desired level of sweetness. Since it does not caramelize or brown like sugar, it is best suited for use in beverages or in recipes where white sugar would normally be used.
When substituting stevia for sugar in baking recipes, it is often necessary to make adjustments to the other ingredients as well. For example, you may need to add more flour or reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe.
With a little experimentation, you will soon find the perfect way to use it in all your favorite recipes.
Substituting for Sugar
Unlike sugar, stevia does not contribute to cavities or raise blood sugar levels. In addition, it is calorie-free and has a glycemic index of zero, making it an ideal sweetener for people with diabetes.
When substituting stevia for sugar, it is important to use a product that is designed for baking. Baking stevia is available in convenient measuring packets and can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.
When using stevia in place of sugar, it is important to use far less than sugar because it is much sweeter than sugar. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, only 1/3 cup of stevia should be used. Finally, it can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar, including cakes, cookies, pies, and other desserts.
While stevia has a long history of use in traditional medicine, it is only recently that its potential health benefits have been widely researched.
Preliminary studies suggest that it may help to lower blood sugar levels, improve heart health and reduce inflammation. While more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of stevia, this natural sweetener is increasingly being recognized as a healthy alternative to sugar.
While more research is needed to confirm the health benefits, this natural sweetener is increasingly being recognized as a healthy alternative to sugar. Some potential benefits of using stevia include:
-Lowering blood sugar levels
-Improving heart health
-Being a natural sweetener
While stevia does have some potential health benefits, it is important to remember that more research is needed to confirm these effects. In addition, it should be used in moderation as it is extremely sweet. Excessive consumption of stevia may lead to unwanted side effects such as bloating and diarrhea. Therefore, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before using it as a dietary supplement.
Does Stevia Have Side Effects?
While stevia is generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects that should be considered. These side effects are typically associated with excessive consumption of stevia and include:
If you experience any of these side effects after consuming stevia, it is important to reduce your intake or discontinue use. It is generally considered safe for most people, but it is always best to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.
It is well worth the time to grow your own stevia, either in your backyard garden or herb garden! It’s one less thing you’ll need from the grocery store that you can produce yourself!