One of the plants that’s thriving in my oh-so-wet-and-rainy garden this year is stevia. It’s the first time I’ve grown it, so I’m pleased to see it do so well, but how to use it? For starters, just chewing on a fresh leaf gives a burst of sweetness that’s welcome when you’re trying to cut back on processed sugars. I’ve tried tossing a few fresh leaves in with hot tea, but don’t notice much in the way of sweetening with this method. I really wanted to have a go-to sweetener at the ready for tea and coffee, so I decided to try drying it, which was super simple to do. I stripped the leaves from the stems, cleaned them in a bowl of water, and took them for a spin in the salad spinner.
And this is where I got a little crazy. Instead of drying the stevia in my dehydrator (hardly worth the energy for just a few trays) or my oven (again, with the wasted energy) I spread it out on two cookie sheets and put them in my car. I am so serious. It gets warm in there! Even with our overcast and cloudy weather, the leaves dried overnight.
Once dried, I put 4-5 leaves in my mortar and pestle, ground them, and put it in a hot cup of tea. I’m debating grinding it all up in my mini processor for ease of use, but that might not last as long in our moist air. The stevia does leave a little ring of organic matter around the edge of the cup, but nothing I can’t deal with.
If you’re growing stevia and would prefer making a stevia extract, Common Sense Homesteading has a step-by-step that you should check out.