Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Growing Stevia, Last Day for Shipping Discounts from My Publisher - and Sun Tea with Stevia

Dear Folks,

Today, September 21st it the last day of my publishers Free Mail Shipping OR 50% off Ground Shipping Offer.

Enter code:    FGA915 when checking out and choose either Free Mail Shipping OR 50% off Ground.

My Publisher

This is also the lowest price this year (through September 30th) for my 2016 Edible Landscaping Planting Wall Calendar

Take advantage of these 2 discounts - perhaps a good time to think of gifts for the holidays. :-)

My Edible Landscaping Book.

Or, My Cookbook.

. . .

Sun Tea with Stevia

I am not a commercial soda drinker, but I like seltzer and sparkling waters.  I will make homemade sodas with fruit concentrates (such as from my jam canning) or use frozen unsweetened juice concentrates (1/4 juice to 3/4 cold sparkling water).

But when I can make sun tea (when the sun is nice and hot/bright) I make a concentration of organic green tea and some of my dried Stevia and add it to seltzer..

Sun Tea / Stevia Concentrate

Pint Jar
4 bags of Organic Green Tea (use any tea you prefer)
1/4 cup of dried stevia

Set out in sun for 6-10 hours.

Strain and refrigerate for use.

Empty a can of seltzer (12 ounces) into a tall glass and top with the green tea/stevia extract.  Sip and enjoy.

. . .

Stevia may be one of the Holy Grails of edible plants in the desert garden.  A true sub-tropical it seriously does not like the cold, and dies back each winter.  I have been blessed that this plant has come back for 4+ years and occasionally seedlings pop up in the spring.  I am in one of the low-chill hour areas of the Valley, which may help in maintaining the live roots through the winter.

I try to take full advantage of its heavy production and dry it for use later.  As an element, not an essential oil, the chemical compound (Steviol glycosides) which gives it the incredible sweet taste, is very, very durable.  I have 3 year old dried stevia I'm using up for this sun tea and it is still going strong for sweetness.

You can make your own liquid sweetener by adding Stevia to boiling water and let steep for 20-30 minutes.  Strain (save the leaves - you can get another steeping like reusing a tea bag), and refrigerate.  Use within a week.

I dry the stevia on paper towels in the refrigerator then transfer to mason jars for storage.

Stevia can be grown from seed but is a real challenge as many of the seeds are simply not viable.

More and more I am seeing Stevia plants for sale in the nurserys in the Spring.

GROWING Stevia -- Find a good sunny spot with regular watering.  Come late fall when the plant starts to flower and go to seed (you can try and catch the seed) wait for it to start to die back and mound leaves around the base and keep your fingers crossed.  I DO NOT remove the old dead stems until well into late spring.  I may prune back some of the dead top stuff but I do not mess with the root base, since she has been so good to me I don't want to disturb the roots by yanking on the stems.

Pictured is the Stevia emerging March 7th, then on March 29th, and last taken July 1st - the plant is 18 inched+ tall and at this point (September 21st) the flower heads are starting to dry out a bit.  (Time to harvest more for drying :-)

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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