How many of you look forward to that wonderful cup of coffee or tea in the morning? How many of you reach for that packet of artificial sweetener or spoonful of sugar to help make your coffee or tea taste better? STOP! You’re ruining your beverage of choice and contaminating your body. Why not grow your own Stevia??? It’s really easy, and anyone, especially those living in South Alabama, can do it.
I’m not going to preach to you about the dangers of store-bought sugar and sweetners. You can do the research on your own, but just know if you’re purchasing a sweetener, and it is white in color, that’s not natural. It contains some form of bleach to make it that beautiful white color. Let’s face it….people are are far more likely to eat or drink something that is white than green. Stevia in its natural, un-processed form is green, not white. Before I get off of my soapbox on this subject….look at the manufacturer! Why in the world would you add something to your coffee or tea that the Coca Cola Company has manufactured? Certainly it’s not because it’s good for you. Just something to think about. Here is a picture of un-processed ground stevia compared to the stevia you buy at your local grocery store.
To begin growing your own stevia, you do what you would do with any plant. You plant it in the soil and water it. For those of you that are local readers, I purchased my stevia plants from Dothan Nurseries. Their staff was extremely helpful, and they loaded my plants as well as my organic potting soil into my car for me. I purchased three plants, and I planted mine in a large pot, simply because I live in the city and don’t have room for an actual garden. Stevia flourishes here in our hot, humid weather. It is known that stevia becomes sweeter as the temperatures drop, but you will want to harvest it one final time before you get your first frost. Cover your stevia plant during the bitter winter months, because it doesn’t handle the freezing temperatures very well.
To begin making pure, liquid stevia, you will want to trim your stevia plants to the base. Wash all of your stems and leaves in clean water. After you’ve washed the stems and leaves thoroughly, begin tearing the leaves off of the stems and laying them either on an outdoor table, an old window screen, or you can even use a baking sheet. Allow them to dry outside for 6-12 hours depending on how warm the temperature is that day.
Once your stevia leaves are dry, they will be very crunchy. Place them in either a food processor or a coffee grinder. You now want to grind them into a soft powder. Be aware that when you remove the lid to your coffee grinder or food processor, you will be able to taste the sweet powder in the air. That’s really my favorite part, because that’s truly when you see what you’ve done.
Now, you can stop here and simply use powdered stevia, but my husband and I have found that it can be somewhat bitter by the time you reach the bottom of your cup of coffee or tea, whereas the liquid is just right to our taste buds. To make liquid stevia, simply pour 1/4 cup of your powdered stevia into a mason jar, add 1 cup of warm, filtered water. You don’t want the water to be boiling, only warm. Put the lid on the jar and shake it up until the powder is mostly dissolved. Let it sit out on the counter overnight, and the next morning, you can add a little bit to your coffee or tea and refrigerate the excess. Don’t freak out when you see the rich, green color of the liquid stevia. This is normal. This is what natural, unprocessed sweetener should look like! One jar of liquid stevia generally lasts us about two months, and by the time I’m running low, my plants have produced a bountiful harvest once again. Keep in mind that 2-3 teaspoons of powdered or liquid stevia is equivalent to 1 cup of store-bought sugar. We use approximately 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per cup of coffee or tea.
I hope you will give this a try. You don’t have to be a full-time farmer to do this. Stevia doesn’t require a whole lot of attention. So if you have a large pot, soil, and stevia plants, you can do this. God graciously provides the sunshine and the rain. Save money, be productive, and take care of your body. God only gave you this one body….honor Him with what you put in it. It’s taken me 32 years to learn the importance of taking care of my body, and I pray that my children see and know earlier on the importance of a healthy mind and body. So go grow your own stevia and allow this to be the beginning of a healthier you.