Growing & Harvesting Stevia
Stevia is a very easy herb to grow. It is an annual and, although you can plant seeds, buying a young plant will give you weeks - if not months - of extra time to harvest the leaves. Stevia is a tropical plant and HATES cold weather, so wait until nights are above 50 degrees and the soil is warm to the touch before you plant it.
Cooking with Stevia
So you’ve grown and harvested a summer’s worth of stevia -
What you can’t do with stevia: Lots of baked goods - cakes, cookies and the like - count on sugar to help them brown and rise. (Yes, we’re sure. A really good chef told us.) If you substitute stevia for the sugar in these recipes, it likely won’t work.
Fresh From My Garden or Processed From the Store?
Once upon a time, stevia was only available at natural food stores. However, it is appearing in processed form in more and more mainstream grocery stores. Why bother to grow stevia when you can buy it easily at the store? That’s your decision to make! However, here are our thoughts on the subject:
Is Stevia Safe?
Stevia is banned in some countries and was banned in the United States at one time, simply because the Food and Drug Administration wanted to make sure it was safe. According to the
American Diabetes Association,
"Stevia (sometimes called Rebaudioside A or rebiana) is now generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA as a food additive and table top sweetener. When something is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, it means that experts have agreed that it is safe for use by the public in appropriate amounts."
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