Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adventures with Stevia

My packet of stevia seeds failed, or I failed them....I tried germinating them in egg cartons just like the nasturtiums. One bitty seedling did pop up, and then died the next day. :(

So I bought 3 big plants at Lowe's. They're enjoying a private pot just outside the door where they'll get all the sun they could want. They grew about a foot in the past month.

I ate a leaf and was really surprised. It's sweet. Really, REALLY sweet...BUT it tastes like grass! Allegedly after you prepare it that goes away....I've seen a couple methods for extracting the steviocide - one you crush the fresh leaves and put them in a jar with vodka, leave them for a day and drain through a coffee filter. The second - dry the leaves, crush and store in airtight container. It seemed as though the fresh method is preferred, so I tried that route.

Chopped up and soaking in vodka.


After I let it set I added as much water as there was vodka and slowly heated it in a pan on the stove until I thought it had reduced enough. And it left me with this:

It looks really nasty. It is super sweet, but it tastes like boiled broccoli.

I guess I'll try drying the leaves...


  1. I hope the next method works out a little better for you. My boyfriend and I came across some stevia plants in home depot the other day and I made him taste one of the leaves. He didn't believe me that they taste sweet until he tried it. -lol- We've been inspired to try a little container gardening thanks to your blog. We've got some lettuces, tomato, beans, and ... something else (I forgot what) planted in some plastic bins in our kitchen window and out on the back patio. We're not sure what will come of it (we think we used the wrong type of soil) but we're hoping and praying something pops up. :) Do you have any tips for us?

  2. Hi Haylee, glad to know you're still hanging around. :)

    Tips? Hmmm. Well, why do you think you used the wrong kind of soil? Potting soil is potting soil. There are a few different mixes, but it will probably work out fine unless you used soil from your yard or 'topsoil'. These will get compacted and not be able to drain properly.

    A couple things that come to mind:
    I'm not big on tomatoes, but I think they need lots of room for their roots, so I'd move it if it isn't in a deep pot. And make sure it has some support - stakes or a cage.
    It might be a little late (or early) for lettuce. Once it starts getting really warm they get bitter and icky. Maybe you should hold off on them until fall.
    Are the beans climbing or bush? If climbing you'll need to provide support (as much as 8' for some varieties.)

    It sounds like you chose well - all the plants you listed are good for beginners and do very well in pots. If you're looking to add anything, I'd suggest HERBS. They're so simple (some have different watering requirements) and delicious!

  3. If the tomatoes are dwarf varieties or ones recommended for container planting, you shouldn't need more than an 8" pot--if they're regular garden tomatoes, get a really big pot!

    I just read Joy Spoczynska's "The Indoor Kitchen Garden," which is good for those who don't have a balcony, even, but she gave some good info on growing things in containers as well.

    Erin, I'm still on plain ol' organic sugar from the organic market, but I've been eyeing stevia for a while... :P I'll keep an eye out for your next update on this!

  4. Thanks for the tips. I say it's the wrong soil because it says on the bag "not for containers." It's very strange, but I've used it before for other plants and they've done fine.

    We plan on moving the tomatoes once they get some decent roots on them. They'll get their own pots with supports.

    The lettuce has already started sprouting so it's too late to wait! -lol- It's mostly going to be for our 4 bunnies so it's ok if it's a little bitter. I didn't realize lettuce should be planted so late in the year.

    Kenneth - I'll have to check out that book. Our kitchen only has one tiny window that faces East so it gets very little light. I ended up moving all of my plants to the back patio because there just wasn't enough sun.