Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dried stevia


I'm really disappointed in how the dried stevia turned out. Last year I posted about growing, and harvesting.

It wasn't too hard to grow. But I did have to buy plants — my seeds were very unsuccessful. And later I learned getting plants which were grown from cuttings is ideal. Similar to fruit trees, stevia reproduces sexually, so the seed-grown plants are not identical to their parents. The hardest part was keeping it watered. It was a very thirsty plant! Watering on a balcony is always tricky though.

The leaves dried beautifully, they were crunchy, stiff and retained a lot of color. Just a nibble was almost enough to overwhelm me with sweetness.

Recently I tried soaking them in hot water for my tea. As I watched, the water took on a slight greenish tint. Figuring that was a sign the leaves had released their saccharine goodness, I tasted a bit of the water, and it was a little sweet but I got much much more of the green, fresh-mown-grass flavor than the sweetness. I like the smell of mown grass, but I do not want to eat it.

I wondered if the hot water needed more time to leach out the steviocide, or if it was too hot and had damaged it. (I don't know if that is possible, but it occurred to me.) But when I soaked it longer it just created more of that green taste. When I tasted the soaked leaves they were still very sweet, it just wasn't getting into the water. Even pulverizing and wringing out the leaves didn't work. Well, it did work in that I got more sweetness, but I also got more un-tasty green flavor.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I can't find any information on the web about the weird taste, except what I think people mean as the difference in the flavor of the processed steviocide extract and other sweetener flavors. (Even sugar has a flavor, you know.) But I've found absolutely nothing on how to prepare the leaves to avoid or get rid of the green taste. I'm going to keep searching. But if I can't find anything I'll have to throw them away — yes, they're that useless. And I will probably ditch the plant I'm overwintering. No reason to keep growing a useless plant, right? Can you tell I'm frustrated?