Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I got your Stevia, right here!

I must make a confession (hangs head in shame) I love the sweet stuff.


I will take it just about any form. Chocolate, lemon drops, lollipops, cake, cupcakes, heck, if you had road kill and covered it in sugar, I would probably eat that too. It's that bad. 

I have to be good. I could easily go on a major sugar eating frenzy. 

Like that scene from the Simpsons where Homer steals a truck load of Sugar. He mumbles in his delirious sugar stupor...

Homer: First you get the sugar, then you get the money, then you get the women. 

Paraphrasing Scare Face. 

Problem is, the money and the woman part would never enter my consciousness. I would be dead from sugar overdose. 

Significate Other: Doctor!! What killed him???!!!! 

Doctor: Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. 

No one wants as their epitaph "killed by beans". 


Instead, I have been growing some Stevia. 

Okay. That's nice, but what the heck is it? 

Well, wikipedia explains it better than I do:

"subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleafsweet leafsugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations."


But wait there is more!!!

"Other studies have shown stevia to improve insulin sensitivity in rats[45] and possibly even to promote additional insulin production,[46] helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome.[47] Preliminary human studies suggest that stevia can help reduce hypertension[48] although another study has shown it to have no effect on hypertension.[49] Indeed, millions of Japanese have been using stevia for over thirty years with no reported or known harmful effects.[50] Similarly, stevia leaves have been used for centuries in South America spanning multiple generations in ethnomedical tradition as a treatment for type II diabetes.[51]"

But here is the kicker...

"10-15 times sweeter than table sugar"


But you say, "That's some pretty sick stuff there SuburbanDweller, but what does this have to do with me?" I'm glad you asked that! (don't you love how I put words in your mouth?)

I made my own Stevia extract!! Yes, no longer will I be a Sugar junkie!!! Well, okay,  that's total BS. I just won't be as bad...really.
This is how I did it. 

First get a million dollars, oh wait, that's how you become a millionaire.

First, grow your own...


It's fairly easy to find and grow. I got my starter plant from our good friends at Home Desperate.

One teeny tiny 6 inch plant.

Partial shade is a must. It's supposed to do well in blazing heat, but I say BS on that. Out in the sun it would crisp in a matter of hours.

Mine gets about 4 hours of direct sun, then shade for the rest of the day.

I put this in our herb pot around April. I let the stems grow to about 2 feet tall. If I let it go, it would probably continue growing but the "sweetness" gets a little...gnarly. So you want to harvest the stems when they are about 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet tall.

When harvesting, you only want the top 2/3's of the stem. You want to leave at least a 1/3 standing. It must still have leaves. We learned the hard way the first time around. If you cut it down to the base, it will die.

So with your stems cut...


You want to give them a good course chop...


You want to be able to pack two cups worth of the stuff.

Get a large 3 quart Ball jar and dump your chopped Stevia into it.


Next, the fun part...


It's not just for screw drivers any more! Or shots...Not that I did any of that while making the extract...hic...

Measure off one liquid cup of your favorite variety. OR you can just get the cheap stuff. It doesn't effect the flavor, however it will effect your hangover. If you wish to have a "flavored" Stevia, you can buy one of those flavored vodkas out there.

I choose not to go the "flavored" route, mainly because the "flavoring" that is added to those vodkas isn't very...natural, regardless of their "natural flavoring" moniker.

If you really wanted to go hardcore, you could always soak some vanilla beans and add the soaked juice from them to the final project, but I digress...

Pour the one cup of vodka into the jar, tighten down the lid and shake well.

Let stand for 24 hours but not longer than 48. If you do, it will go from sweet to bitter.

You want to shake and turn it periodically.

Sooooooooooooo....I wait...shake...wait...shake...

Now through the incredible technology of the internet tubes, here's the result...


Looks like soggy spinach. Actually, it's more like pickled lettuce. Pickled as in 3 sheets to the wind.

Get a bowl, a wire strainer and some cheese cloth.


Open up the jar and dump its contents in the cheese cloth and drain.

Frankly, that will take forever.

Once in the cheese cloth, wrap up the cheese cloth around the soggy stevia and squeeze the living...poop out of it! Through the cheese cloth and drain through the sieve, that is.

This is what it should look like...


Mmmmmm, green.

Okay, this stuff is still alkie-hol soaked. While some of you might enjoy the taste of sweet vodka (tried it. all I'll say is, It was sickly sweet with a punch.)

Dump the drained green liquid into a small pot...


And simmer for 30 minutes. NEVER EVER let it boil. Keep it on the lowest possible heat. All you are trying to do here is cook off the alcohol.

After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool down.

Find your favorite funnel and a tiny jar and pour off your now extracted Stevia. Here is what you get...


That's it?????

You must remember, this is concentrated evil, I mean, sweetness.

Try a drop, it's powerfully sweet stuff.

You might want to dilute it a little. I did. I added about a tablespoon of water.

And because it's so concentrated, it will last quite a while.

Right now, we use it primarily in all our drinks we wish to sweeten, but in the future, I will be experimenting with it in baking. As I do, I will report the results.

So there it is, the sweet stuff. Home grown. Now if I could figure out how to make my own vodka. Well, if society collapses, I will post on how to make your own still!

Fun times.

Until then...

Remember, Green is Good!!!



Bonnie said...

You are a genius! Bonnie :))

Ashley said...

Awesome! Thanks Will! Now I am inspired to make lavender extract, rose petal extract, vanilla extract, lemon balm extract... :)

Sue Z Smith said...

More power tBut y you! I'm exhausted just reading about the process. You continue to amaze me. Oy, I need a cookie LOL

Sue Z Smith said...

Whoa, that's some kind of typo in my previous comment. How did I do that? Maybe low blood sugar...