Leaves from the stevia plant are a diabetic-safe, low-calorie sweetener that is 100 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Stevia is consumed around the world and has no safety concerns regarding its use, according to Drugs.com. It is a zone 9 perennial herb, perfect for your windowsill garden. Purchase the plant as a seedling and use the leaves fresh from the plant or dry them for later use.
Pinch 1 to 4 leaves from the top of a branch to sweeten a cup of tea. Taking leaves from the top will encourage side growth and a bushier plant.
Steep the fresh leaves along with your tea bag in one cup of hot water.
Chew two fresh leaves to curb sugar cravings. The sweet taste will remain in your mouth for up to an hour.
Dry Leaf Powder
Dry individual leaves between sheets of paper towel. When you can crumble the leaf easily, they are fully dried.
Cut whole branches from the plant. Hang the branch upside down in a dark, cool area until the leaves are dry.
Grind the dry leaves with a mortar and pestle until you have a fine powder. Use the powder to sweeten breakfast cereal, beverages or use it in baking. Dry leaves are sweeter than fresh, and one teaspoon is equal to the sweetness of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Boil two cups of distilled water. Add 1 tsp. of your dry leaf powder and reduce temperature to a simmer.
Simmer the mixture until it has reduced and thickened to the consistency of syrup.
Strain the syrup through a cheesecloth once it has cooled. The "Stevia Cookbook" by Ray Sahelian recommends storing the syrup in the refrigerator to increase shelf life.
Things You'll Need
Mortar and pestle
2 cups water
Stevia has a faint licorice flavor, which might make it unsuitable for baking. Experiment with your particular plant, as different plants have different sweetness levels.