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Last Spring, I came across some Stevia plants while picking up some bedding plants. I remember just a few years ago, even the seeds were hard to find and when I did, they were very expensive. Now the price has come down somewhat, and they are being sold as bedding plants as well. This is great for those of use who want to grow Stevia.
I picked up two plants and they sat out on the porch all Spring and early Summer. Once the nights started really cooling down, I brought the plants in and set them in a sunny window.
Here are a few pictures of the plants and how I use harvested and dried the leaves. Stevia makes a great substitute for sugar! I think it’s much better for a person to use Stevia rather than Sweet n Low or Splenda, as the Stevia plant has no chemicals in it. Just add water with no fertilizer and it is a “natural” plant.
It’s quite a pretty plant – I should have probably kept it trimmed lower but I let it go. Eventually it started trailing. This plant would be great grown in a hanging container as it will just spill over the sides and trail down.
You can easily pinch off a few leaves at a time if you like, or let it start trailing and then give it a good haircut! If you have several stems that are trailing down, just cut one whole stem off for using. The rest of the plant will keep growing.
I snipped the stems right above a spot on the stem which had two leaves on either side. I snipped the leaves off of the stem and onto a large plate. You may need to rinse the leaves but the leaves on my plant were very clean so I didn’t bother to wash them.
When I was finished I had ended up with a large serving platter and a wide serving bowl full of Stevia leaves. Look how many leaves I was able to harvest, yet the plant will keep growing.
All I did to dry them was to leave them out on the counter out of direct sunlight. I would give them a good stir with my fingers two or three times a day. Within a few days, they looked like this:
Once they felt quite dry to the touch, I put them into a Ziplock bag and use my rolling pin to crush the leaves – you could do this by hand if you prefer not to use plastic. A mortar and pestle would work great for this step of the process.
Then I transferred the crushed leaves into a small glass Pyrex bowl with a lid. I have been using it in my coffee, I just add it in with a spoon. Stevia is a lot more healthy for a person that using sugar. If you want some great recipes using Stevia, take a look at the link. Why not grow Stevia this year?
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