Most of us can’t grow sugar in our back yard, but growing stevia is a completely different story. Even in areas where it’s too cold to grow it outside, you can grow it inside with a little bit of help.
Now using stevia leaves on their own is good (Try crushed leaves at the bottom of a glass of water or tea) in order to use it as a full on sweetener you need to make stevia extract. Which is rather tough to do.
Well, not really. It’s actually pretty darn easy.
You need three things. Dried stevia leaves, a glass canning jar, and some vodka.
Rudy’s Note: Yes, I said Vodka. While you can use water instead if you want, by using vodka you end up with a much sweeter result without the alcohol. Stay tuned for more…
So cut the leaves off your stevia plant and wash them thoroughly.
Remove all of the stems and then use a dehydrator to dry them until they’re crisp.
Rudy’s Note: You can use any dehydrator, or even the sun, but I like my Excalibur because of the air flow patterns. But that’s a different story on a different day.
Once the leaves are dry, use a sharp knife to chop them finely. DO NOT chop them to the point of powder. If you do, you’ll have a heck of a time getting the residue out of the extract.
Dump the chopped leaves into your jar and cover them with vodka. Put the lid on the jar and shake it well.
Now let it sit for 24 to 36 hours. No longer than 36 hours or it’ll turn bitter instead of sweet.
Set up a filter (a coffee filter works good) and filter the extract into the jar.
Now if you don’t mind the alcohol, use a funnel to transfer the filtered goodness into a dropper bottle (dark colored glass please!) and you’re set. In this case it’ll keep for four years if you keep it in a dark place.
If you don’t want the alcohol, heat the jar for 20-30 minutes on low heat. Don’t let it boil, or else your sweetness will be gone in a flash.
Then transfer to the bottle as above. If you heat off the alcohol you should keep it in the fridge and it’ll keep for three months.
With this extract you only need a drop or two of it for most things.