Stevia is a sweet herb that is becoming popular as a sugar substitute. It is reportedly sweeter than sugar, so use sparingly. The elongated leaves grow up long stems and white blooms will appear at the top. Don’t think that you have to use Stevia as just a sweetener, it has been used for many years, either fresh or dried, to enhance other flavors too.
While you can harvest most herbs as soon as they get big enough, Stevia gets it’s best flavor in the fall when temperatures are cooler and days are shorter.
Clip the stems of the Stevia plant with shears or scissors. Hang in bundles in a warm, dry place that has good air circulation. When you can crumble the leaves with your fingers, then you are ready to grind them into powder. You can use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. This powder will store for a long time. You can also lay the leaves out in the full sun for about 12 hours. Much longer and the flavor will be severely diminished.
Stevia is quickly becoming the favorite substitute for sugar but use caution when cooking with it. It can be much sweeter! There are several recipes out now that use stevia or you can go by trial and error. Always start with just a little bit and add until you have the desired sweetness.
Spacing: Plant 18″ to 24″ apart.
Height: Grows 18″ to 30″ tall.
How To Grow: Plant in full sun.
Outstanding Features: Approximately 3 tablespoons of chopped Stevia equals 1 cup of sugar. You can steep Stevia in water and use it to sweeten certain dishes and recipes.
Tips: A native of Paraguay, the Stevia plant is an annual and should be planted after the average low is 45° or higher.
Uses: Culinary Herb, Garden Bed, Containers