I have a sweet tooth.
There. I said it.
As much as I would like to be one of those people who can happily chug black coffee and has no problem passing up dessert, I’m just not.
Now, as my real-food journey has progressed, I have gotten much better than I used to be. White sugar is pretty much banned from our house, and I don’t even use as many unrefined sweeteners as I used to. Eating a piece of fruit generally satisfies my cravings for sweetness (which have lessened considerably), and I’m pretty darn creative about using small amounts of maple syrup, honey, or stevia to sweeten stuff instead.
Stevia extract is amazing stuff. It’s pretty popular right now, but in case you haven’t jumped on the stevia train yet, here is a quick run-down: Stevia is simply a plant. Yup– a plant. It’s not created in a laboratory and it’s most definitely not one of those scary artificial sweeteners. Stevia is 200-times sweeter than sugar and you can grow it right in your garden. That’s my kind of sweetener!
Of course, there is some debate surrounding stevia, (because, quite frankly, there is debate surrouding everything these days…) Some people question if it is safe to use in large amounts, and other folks don’t like the more-processed forms of stevia powder on the market today.
However, I feel pretty confident in simple stevia extracts, especially when you make them yourself. Just remember– stevia is SUPER sweet, so you’ll only want to use a drop or two at a time!
How to Make Stevia Extract
You will need:
- Fresh stevia leaves (Dry leaves can work too–see the note below)*
- Clean glass jar with lid
*The amount of ingredients you need will depend on how much stevia extract you want to make. I made a fairly small batch this time around, so I only ended up using about 1 cup of vodka, and a handful of chopped leaves. Depending on how many stevia plants you have, you can make a big batch, or just a small one.
Wash the leaves and remove them from the stem. Discard any wilted or brown leaves, and coarsely chop the rest.
Place the leaves into a clean, glass jar. I filled my jar to the top, but I didn’t pack the leaves down.
Fill the jar with vodka, making sure the leaves are completely covered.
Place the lid on securely, and give it a good shake and set it aside.
Let the leaves steep in the vodka for around 48 hours. This is a much shorter time frame than many other extracts, but if you let it sit more than a day or two, the resulting stevia extract is pretty darn bitter.
After 48 hours, strain the leaves from the vodka (I also gave my leaves a good squeeze to smoosh out every last bit of extract).
Pour the extract into small saucepan and heat it gently for 20 minutes. Do not let it boil, just warm it up to remove the alcohol and improve the sweetness. It will also thicken up a bit and reduce in volume.
Pour your finished extract into a small bottle (I like one with a dropper–it makes it easier to use) and store it in the fridge. It should last several months.
How to use Homemade Stevia Extract
Add 1-2 drops to your favorite beverages (I especially love using homemade stevia extract to sweeten my coffee or tea!) A little bit goes a looooong way, so start with small amounts. I found I had to use a bit more of my homemade stevia to get the desired level of sweetness, as compared to the store-bought stevia I’ve tried. But I think the sweetness will depends on how long you heated the extract and how many leaves you used.
- Dry stevia leaves can also be using to create homemade stevia extract. Just skip the washing/chopping step, and cover them with vodka. Just be sure to select dried, crushed leaves, not stevia powder.
- I imagine you could use other types of alcohol here, but I like vodka because it’s cheap.
- Don’t want to use alcohol in your extract? Here’s a tutorial for water-based stevia extract.
- You technically don’t *have* to heat the stevia extract after the steeping period, but if you don’t, the resulting extract will be more bitter. However, the up-side is that it will keep longer and you don’t have to store it in the fridge. (the alcohol acts as a preservative).
Ready to Do Some More Extractin’? Check out these Tutorials!
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