Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stevia Extract

STEE-vee-uh or STEH-vee- uh??? That is the question and has been driving me nuts for days! When I worked at a health food store in highschool I was told it was STEH-vee-uh. I have stubbornly called it that ever since even though most people look at me weird. Recently, I was told by an herbalist it is STEE-vee-uh. What the heck?! Finally, I did a search and found out...

...It can be either! Haha. Imagine that. Apparently Stevia is a Spanish word so they pronounce "e's" like "eh". But us English speakers make it a long "e". So technically either is acceptable. I think I'm going to stick with STEH-vee-uh because that's how I've been saying it for so long.

ANYway...this post is about Stevia Extract....so here we go! Later I will do a post on the health benefits of Stevia...




Ingredients:

Dried Stevia leaves (I bought mine here)
Vodka

Directions:

Fill a jar about 2/3 full of Stevia. Any size jar. I used an old spaghetti jar. :)
















Cover with Vodka leaving a little space at the top so you can shake it.

Shake it up really well and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours. Shake it occasionally. I think it can sit up to 36 hours, but not any longer or it can get bitter. 

Then it's time to strain it off. 


I used an old tea towel, dumped the mixture in and squeezed all the liquid out. You can see in the picture that I ended up with almost a full pint of liquid. 



Now you have a choice: either keep and use the liquid as is or simmer off the alcohol. 

Pros and cons to keeping as is:

  • Lasts for several years
  • Low maintenance
  • Not as "sweet"
Pros and cons to simmering off the alcohol:
  • Is a stronger "sweet" taste
  • Has a shorter shelf life 
  • Should store in the fridge
  • A little more work

At first, I used the liquid as is and discovered it just tasted a little "off" to me. You could definitely taste the alcohol through the sweet. So then I tried simmering off the alcohol and that helped. I think it will take a little getting used to because it's definitely a "natural" sweet taste. Up till this point I have used the store bought white powdered version of stevia. Originally that stuff tasted weird to me, too, but eventually my taste buds got accustomed to it just fine! I'm sure I will acclimate to this new version.

The reason I am switching to a homemade extract...it's just one of those little  changes towards a healthier life. Using the powdered stevia is fine, but I just got to thinking how odd it was that it's so WHITE. They must bleach it. Which bothers me a little. Honestly I never even thought about getting the actual LEAF of stevia and making my own till I saw it for sale at The Bulk Herb Store. But now I want to try growing my own plants when I have a garden. Until then, the half of a pound I bought should last awhile!!!

I decided I'm going to keep the alcohol in my stevia extract and just simmer it off in little batches so it doesn't go bad on me. Should work just dandy I think!

If you simmer it down...
Keep the heat low! If the heat gets too high it actually kills the part of the plant that tastes sweet. Ya definitely don't want to end up with a bitter stevia extract. Basically you just simmer for about 30 minutes, cool and bottle. Pretty simple. I've read that you should store this in the fridge and it lasts for about 3 months. 

Now my mind is turning and I want to try making flavored extracts...like vanilla...or cinnamon...or peppermint. I'm so excited! Those would make such yummy (and healthy!!) coffee flavorings! I will work on that next...

Bethany
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Disclaimer:
In order to protect myself from people who might take any information I have written out of context or use it in any way I do not intend...I must say the following: I am NOT a doctor. I take no responsibility for what you do or not do with any information I have written. My opinions and writings should not take the place of a  doctor...consult one of those if you need medical advice. Pretty much...please use common sense and I strongly suggest you do your own research as well. It's empowering!


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