Stevia is an herb which serves as a natural and safe sweetener, it has zero calories and is considered the safest and healthiest sweetener available. Various types of stevia are extracted from the leaves of stevia plants, different forms have varying levels of sweetness. Stevia posesses multiple health benefits. It has hypoglycemic effects when ingested, and will also improve improve insulin production. It is a natural antioxidant, can alleviate hypertension and high blood pressure. It is believed that it also inhibits the bacterial growth that leads to tooth decay, now hows that for a polar opposite of sugar ?
Commercially available products marketed as Stevia are highly processed with toxic chemicals including methyl alcohol. Commercial Stevia that you buy in the grocery store or products that it is infused with, so called 'all natural' products you purchase are not natural at all.
Commercially available sweeteners made from stevia are highly processed with noxious, toxic chemicals and the natural healthy factor is pretty much beaten right out of them in the corporate quest for mass production and mass profit. Commercial Stevia that you buy in the grocery store or products that it is infused with, so called 'all natural' products you purchase are not natural at all and certainly not all that healthy.
Home gardeners who grow their own stevia are able to make their own sweetener with stevia leaves. A simple extract recipe follows. The leaves can be used from any mature plant but be aware that the plants flavor is at its peak just prior to bud break and flowering.
Fresh stevia leaves are best but dried leaves will suffice. if you opt to use dried stevia leaves you will cut down on the waiting time by roughly half or end up with a much more concentrated extract.
Stevia Extract Recipe
1 cup stevia leaves
1.5 to 2 cups of Vodka [or any clear alcohol fit for consumption]
1. Remove the leaf stems and rinse the leaves thoroughly, gently pat dry them.
2. Discard any wilted, brown or otherwise unhealthy looking leaves, and crumble and break up the leaves you intend to use.
3. Place your stevia leaves in a glass jar filled halfway with Vodka [or half empty depending on your outlook :>]. The leaves should be packed loosely, not compressed, they should also be complete submersed in the vodka. The combination of the stevia leaves and vodka should bring the jars contents within no more than 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the jars rim. Drain or add Vodka as need be so that you have at least 1/4 inch of head space but no more than 1/2 inch. Be sure the stevia leaves are completely submersed so as to prevent decay and or mold.
4. Vigorously shake the jar, seal it and set aside in a cool, dark place for about 2 - 3 days.
You DO NOT want to wait longer to obtain a stronger extract as is the case with other herbs. The longer you wait the more the mixture degrades and becomes bitter, sometimes astringent and certainly unusable.
5. After the stevia and Vodka has thoroughly melded [2 - 3 days] strain the leaves, and bottle the finished stevia extract. A coffee filter works fine for the straining process. The filtered leaves should be squeezed thoroughly to force them to surrender their sweet essence.
5. Heat the extract over a low flame, do not boil it, just heat it. You want to get it to the point where some light vapors are released. This serves to remove excess unnecessary liquids and creates a more concentrated extract, it is not absolutely necessary but purely optional.
Some herbal extracts can also be made with vinegar if you have objections to using alcohol, stevia is not one of these. I tried it - it sucked.
Water based stevia extracts to make a liquid stevia without using alcohol are online, but the process involves using powdered stevia, which in my opinion defeats the purpose.