Despite the fact that I do eat some sugary foods (just wait for the ice cream recipe I’m sharing next week…it’s amazing), Garrett and I are both trying to reduce sugar in our diets. Little switches, like using a natural sweetener for your coffee, removing sugary sodas from your diet or using fruit rather than juice to sweeten smoothies, can really help reduce your sugar intake.
Stevia is a naturally sweet herb, which is a great substitute for sugar as it has no calories and doesn’t affect your blood sugar. Garrett’s parents grew stevia plants in their garden this year, so when Garrett came home with a large bundle one day, I thought I’d attempt to make my own stevia extract.
In the past, I’ve experimented with packets of powdered stevia when making Carrot Cake Oatmeal, Chocolate Oatmeal Protein Pancakes, Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Stevia Protein Muffins, and Whole Wheat Stevia Banana Bread. If you’re not concerned about losing the physical properties of sugar, like caramelizing, then you can add it to replace sugar in many dishes and recipes. It’s also a great sweetener for tea, coffee or cocktails.
Stevia in the store can be quite expensive, as much as $40 for a 4oz bottle. Making it at home, with stevia from your backyard, is an economical way to get this sweetener. Even with the cost of the vodka you use in the extract, it is much cheaper than in the store.
What you’ll need:
- fresh stevia leaves
- mason jar
- fine mesh strainer and/or coffee filter
- small saucepan
- tincture or extract bottles.
Some people like to make their stevia extract from the dried leaves, but I’ve heard that it can be quite bitter, so I tried it with the fresh leaves straight from the garden. Take the leaves off the stem, rip into smaller pieces. You’ll need to fill the mason jar up about 3/4 full. Then pour enough vodka in to cover all the leaves.
Let the leaves steep for 36 hours. I left it on the kitchen table and gave it a shake every time that I walked by.
Pour the liquid out into a fine mesh strainer over a small saucepan. I ended up filtering the liquid again through a coffee filter to get out any little bits.
On low heat, simmer the mixture until the alcohol starts to burn off, about 20-30 minutes. Do not bring to a boil or it will ruin the batch.
It comes out as a dark brown-green colour. You’ll be surprised how much it cooks down.
I poured the extract into these small tincture bottles with glass droppers, from a health food store. The extract can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.