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How to Use Fresh Stevia

How to Use Fresh Stevia

Q: I have stevia plant growing in my garden. I also read about stevia being a good sugar substitute. How do you use fresh Stevia? Is it the leaves, flowers, stems? Do you use it fresh, dry or cooked? Thanks.

A: The sweetness of the stevia plant lies in its leaves, and you can use it in a variety of ways. I�ve used a fresh leaf right off of the plant in a glass of tea, and it provided just a bit of earthy sweetness. However, the best way to get the most out of your plant is to dry the leaves and make your own powder.

Harvest all of the leaves from the plant and dry them. On a moderately warm fall day, your stevia crop can be quick dried in the full sun in about 12 hours. Just place the plants on a piece of newspaper in an area with good air circulation. A home dehydrator can also be used, although sun drying is the preferred method. I’ve even used the heat of my attic during the summer to speed up the job.

You can crush the dried leaves by hand using a mortar and pestle or using a coffee grinder. You can use the stevia in this powdered form, adjusting the amount you use to achieve the desired degree of sweetness. Keep in mind that stevia is 30 times more sweet than sugar and a general rule of thumb is 1 generous tablespoon is roughly equivalent to one cup of sugar in terms of the level of sweetness.

You can also make your own stevia simple syrup by adding a cup of warm water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed stevia leaves. This mixture should set for 24 hours and then be refrigerated. It works perfectly for sweetening beverages.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at drbrent@care2.com.

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at drbrent@care2.com

23 comments

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9:04AM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:03AM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

2:36PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Delightful and easy to grow.

8:42AM PDT on Mar 16, 2013

thanks

6:47AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

I've grown Stevia from seed for years. It is easy to grow. Use a mix of peat and #3 vermiculite for seed and some kind of good peat lite mix ( pro mix, metro mix, etc. ) for growing in pots. Do not use a heavy potting soil!

7:12AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

Thank you Dr. Brent, for Sharing this!

12:12PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

good to know

7:14PM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

I just found out you can't grow stevia from seed. If you have a plant, though, it is very easy to take cuttings and root them. Then transplant to soilless mix. I have not yet managed to bring them through a winter indoors, so that's an unknown. Thanks for posting how to use fresh/dried stevia.

8:56AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Thanks! I've been wondering about this! I have a Stevia plant (it's growing like a weed!) and didn't know how to use it, I will probably try making the simple syrup : )

4:12PM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

I just bought a stevia plant. Very excited thank you for the information!

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