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?


  1. I think you either have to use the fresh undried leaves or make them into a powder first? I found this, I hope it's helpful to you:

    A liquid extract can be made from the whole Stevia leaves or from the green herbal Stevia powder. Simply combine a measured portion of Stevia leaves or herbal powder with pure USP grain alcohol (Brand, or Scotch will also do) and let the mixture sit for 24 hours. Filter the liquid from the leaves or powder residue and dilute to taste using pure water. Note that the alcohol content can be reduced by very slowly heating (not boiling) the extract and allowing the alcohol to evaporate off. A pure water extract can be similarly prepared, but will not extract quite as much of the sweet glycosides as will the alcohol. Either liquid extract can be cooked down and concentrated into a syrup.

  2. Thanks, Tina. That's the recipe I followed the first time and it ended up concentrating the green flavor until it tasted like syrupy, overcooked broccoli.

    I'll try the powder next. :)

  3. I don't like the taste of PureVia, or any other Stevia-based sweetener on the market that I've tried. It does have that grassy flavor, which is a turn-off for me too. Sorry you're frustrated.