Detailed instructions on how to make stevia extract from leaves.
I recently began an experiment with making my own stevia. I nurtured plants on our deck for months, harvested the leaves, and dried them to make stevia powder.
This whole experiment with stevia began because of my addiction to all things sugar. And I’m equal opportunity. Molasses, coconut sugar, date sugar, honey, maple and agave syrup. I love them all.
In fact, have an entire shelf dedicated to sugar.
Let face it, it's not easy breaking an addiction to sugar. First of all, it's added to more foods than you would imagine. Second is the nightly bombardments of sugar-infused TV commercials after dinner. And thirdly, all those sugar and chocolate treats deliberately placed for the impulse buy while waiting to put my kale on the conveyor belt at the grocery store is just mean.
I looked at sugar alternatives, and stevia was at the top of my list. But a lot of stevia on the grocery shelves is highly processed, with much of it mixed with various forms of sugar like dextrose.
But then I found some plants at the nursery.
Making Stevia Powder
My first experiment was to dry some leaves and whirl them in a spice grinder. I added a pinch of the stevia powder to my morning yogurt and was thrilled with the result.
It doesn’t take much to do the trick since the leaves are 30 – 50 times sweeter than sugar, and the sweetest part of the leaf is a mind-boggling 300 times sweeter.
The down side was the powder didn’t melt in my tea and I was tired of leaf bits in my mouth.
It was just a little too natural.
Making Stevia Extract
I needed to make stevia extract. It took two ingredients and 36 hours, but most of that time was spent sleeping, hanging out with friends, and writing.
The big question is always “How does it taste?”
I’ll be honest, there’s a faintly bitter aftertaste, similar to other sugar substitutes, but much less than I noticed in the powdered form. The aftertaste can be managed somewhat through the amount of time the leaves steep in alcohol, and by the level heat applied at the end.
Here’s how to make your own at home.
- Enough stevia leaves to fill a jar, loosely packed
- Enough vodka to cover the leaves
- Wash the leaves, dry them, and stuff them into a clean jar. Fill the jar, loosely packing the leaves. The more leaves you have, the less time it will take to infuse the liquid.
- Pour enough vodka into the jar to completely cover the leaves. Vodka is commonly used for many extracts because of its neutral flavor.
- Place a lid on the jar and set it on the counter for at least 24 hours. Test the liquid for sweetness. You’ll taste alcohol too, but just focus on the sweetness level. Continue to steep the leaves until you reach the amount of sweetness you want, but don’t go past 48 hours. Longer than 48 hours results in a dominant bitter flavor. I steep my leaves for 30 - 36 hours.
- Place four layers of cheesecloth or a couple of coffee filters over the jar and strain the liquid into a small pot on the stove. Discard the leaves.
- Warm the liquid over medium-low heat to maintain a very low simmer for 30 minutes, with only an occasional bubble. Be careful not to bring it to a boil. The extract will darken to pale amber, and dark particles will be apparent.
- Strain the liquid again using fresh cheesecloth or coffee filters, and pour into a small jar. The extract can be refrigerated for up to three months, so be sure to label the jar.