Using Stevia - Have You?

David Trammel's picture

Several years back I started cutting back on my refined sugar intake. Looking at food packages to see how much added sugar was in it and stopped drinking soda. I also started using Stevia as a replacement. About the biggest use was for my coffee.

I've tried growing it twice now in the garden, with no real luck. It is though on my priority list of plants to learn how to grow successfully. Growing it is just half the skill though, you also need to learn how to turn the leaves into a usable sweetener. Here is a tutorial for that from Practical Self Reliance.


One Note: I see the author says many of the store bought stevias are lab made powdered erythriot flavored with stevia, I'll have to see if mine is, and if so order some dried leaves online.

ADDED: Erythriot might not have the side effects of other alcohol sugars.

ClareBroommaker's picture

The key to germinating stevia is patience. For me, it germinates very unevenly over a 6 week period. So if it isn't showing up, just keep the soil (I start it in punnets) moist and in a sunny place. The plant will need full sun to grow, but should get to harvestable (a least a little harvest) size by summer's end. I don't think it likes competition either, so the spot it goes into should ideally be weeded continuously, getting the weeds when they are tiny so as not to damage stevia's roots.

I have only used stevia in tea. I can just drop a leaf or two in and it sweetens just fine and the herby taste is compatible with black tea.

That said, I do not like to use stevia very much anyway. I read years ago that the European Union did not allow it as a food substance, I think it was because it was suspected to be carcinogenic. I never looked into the details of that; wasn't motivated and probably don't have the skills to judge the matter anyway.

It's a pretty plant when it blooms, so it could earn a garden spot for that reason. Yes, I do very often grow things just because I like how they look. ;)