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Stevia - What Is Stevia

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Stevia

Stevia

©Flickr User Frau Bucher

Overview:

Stevia is a bushy herb with an extremely sweet flavor. It is a great substitute for table sugar, and can be used to sweeten herb tea mixes.

Latin Name:

Stevia rebaudiana

Common Name:

Stevia, Sweet Leaf

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Zone 9 - 11 as a perennial, but grown as an annual elsewhere

Exposure:

Full sun

Harvest:

Stevia may be cut back at any time during the growing season. Many farmers allow the plant to grow the entire season and then harvest the whole plant, as it is usually treated as an annual.

Uses:

Stevia is a delicious alternative to tablesugar. It is often said to be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, making it measurable by the drop or pinch, vs Tablespoon or cup.

Stevia is very easy to grow. It is becoming more popular in mainstream gardening, and can be found in large garden retailers as well as at small greenhouse growers and herb catalogs. Stevia can easily be brought into an indoor herb garden, and does very well.

Grow stevia in full sun, watering profusely. It does grow well enough in dry soil, but for the largest and most leafy plant, water often.

To use stevia, dry the harvested leaves until they crumble easily. Use a light hand and add these leaves as an ingredient in your herb tea mixtures. You can also powder the leaf and add it to your drinks. There are some recipe books that allow for stevia as the sweetener, but remember that with the concentrated taste, you will need to find replacement for the bulk of the sugar part of the recipe, as you will replace the larger table sugar portion with no more than 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of stevia powder.

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