Homemade stevia syrup is easily made, and is much cheaper and more healthful when it hasn’t been processed as storebought syrups have.
So, I had this brilliant idea while walking around a plant nursery early this spring. On a shelf near the herb section, I saw a little stevia plant. Stevia! I can grow my own stevia! It’s natural! It’s fairly easy to grow! It’s not horribly fatsy like sugar! I’ll never have to buy sweetener again!
Proud of my genius, I made the investment—I bought the plant. I’d love it. I’d nurture it. I’d have it forever, and I’d never ever ever have to buy stevia in any form again. It was going to be awesome.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when the plant started to grow so large that it was flopping over the edges of the pot, that I suddenly realized—wait, what do I do with this, exactly? I asked around a bit, and got the same exact enthusiastic answer from five different trusted gardeners. “Throw a few leaves in with your iced tea!” Okay, yes, that’s great—but seriously, how much iced tea can a person drink? Besides, that eliminated my need for sugar in exactly one recipe—not even a recipe I made very often!
I finally decided to trim and dry a few of the leaves. I’d done it a few years before with my excess fresh basil, and it was simple enough. I’d just use what I could fresh, and dry the rest! Problem solved, right? Except what in the world do I do with dried stevia leaves? More tea??? No. I need something more flexible. I need something that I can add to recipes without it looking like I’ve poured Italian seasoning in my dessert. I had to find a way to make my stevia more versatile.
Get ready for this: Homemade Stevia Syrup! Perfect for adding to tea, coffee, lemonade, smoothies, fruit crisps and cobblers, pie fillings, homemade yogurts and kefirs, your morning oatmeal—if it won’t miss the added bulk of sugar (some recipes do need that 1 cup of sugar, because it fills out the recipe), stevia syrup will work. There are even recipes for baked goods that use only stevia (or mostly stevia) as the sweetener. It’s up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a tiny bit—it won’t add too much liquid to your recipes.
Here’s the recipe:
3 c. of distilled (purified) water
3 c. of chopped stevia leaves and stems (loosely packed)
Place the chopped leaves in a glass container and add 1 c. of the water. Cover tightly and let sit for 24 hours. Test for sweetness. If it isn’t sweet enough, give it another 12 to 24 hours. Strain it into a pan (ceramic is best), add the remaining two cups of water, and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes; cool.
Don’t get greedy with the sweetness. I was tempted to do it, too. “If letting it sit longer makes it sweeter, I’ll let it sit all week!” Not a good idea, evidently. Ever had something sweetened with stevia that had a funky, bitter aftertaste? It’s because someone got greedy. Don’t let it sit any longer than 48 hours—and less is more!
This needs to be refrigerated, and it will last at least a few weeks in the fridge. To keep the batches coming even when your lil’ stevia guy goes into slow winter growth mode, dry leaves when you have an abundance, and use the dried leaves to make fresh batches of syrup. The strength probably won’t be identical, so check it a few times during steeping.
Stevia powder is another option—and it’s a bit simpler, too. Just dry the leaves and then grind them with a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder if you have one. The powder will work just like the syrup does—provided you don’t mind the green color and the texture of the powder in your food and drink (which I do, hence the syrup).
I hope you try it, and here’s to healthier eating habits!
Linked up as part of Tuesday Greens on Crafty Garden Mama