Survival food is simply essential, let alone water supplies. What also matters is one’s preparedness to adjust to the situation and well-developed survival skills. A bag full of proper survival gear in your can improve your chances manifold. If one is able to grow food for survival, one is really lucky. But one should, of course, do it the best proper way to have a chance to create substantial food storage end sustain oneself while homesteading, for example. If you know how to make certain survival products by yourself, this knowledge is priceless. Stevia syrup is one such thing. Read on to learn more about it!
To the point
Concerned with how much sugar you consume? Thinking there is just too much sugar in foods you buy from grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, or fast-food chains? Looking for the perfect natural sweetener that you can grow yourself and use any time you need to sweeten your meals?
If your answer is yes, then we highly suggest reading the article below.
This is a brief yet detailed guide on Stevia rebaudiana – a small plant originally from the regions of Brazil and Portugal, which has been regarded as one of the most popular sugar substitutes.
What is Stevia?
It is a small plant that originates from the regions of Brazil and Portugal. However, a few species of it are native to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Stevia comes from the Asteraceae family and is related to daisy and ragweed.
For ages, this plant’s leaves have been used as natural sweeteners by the people of Brazil and Portugal, the plant’s native regions.
Although the 1800’s discovery of Stevia rebaudiana is credited to the Italian botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni (the plant is also referred to as Bertoni, by its discoverer’s last name), the local people called Guarani found out that its leaves could be used to sweeten things centuries ago.
Another use for Stevia leaves included medical purposes. The Guarani people used it to treat burns, stomach pains, colic. They even used the Bertoni plant as a contraceptive.
Shortly after its discovery by Europeans, Stevia got widely spread, and people began to grow it in large amounts.
What does Stevia taste like?
Stevia is much sweeter than sugar which makes it one of the world’s strongest natural sweeteners. However, not all people are big fans of its taste that can be described as bitter-sweet.
While this sweetener is more than 100 times sweeter than sugar, its taste is not all-time sweet. In just a few moments, the sweetness fades a bit and gives way to bitterness. Most often, people say that this spice has a sort of licorice flavor.
Apart from being a sugar substitute that can be 150 sweeter than sugar, Stevia is also known for its zero-calorie product. This means that when used in meals or beverages, Stevia will not add any calories. In addition, it is extremely low on carbohydrates which makes it one of the best fitness products around.
Controversies & possible side effects
One of the biggest concerns about consuming Stevia is that when consumed raw, its leaves may affect your kidneys and reproductive system (that’s when we recall that the Guarani people used it as a means of contraception).
Also, raw Stevia leaves may have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. They should not be consumed in a mixture of blood-sugar-lowering medications – interaction with such drugs may cause a significant blood sugar drop. Critical blood pressure drops are also among the side effect caused by consuming raw leaves.
Some people may also experience digestive problems and metabolic disorders. Side effects like bloating and diarrhea are also possible when you use stevia with sugar alcohol.
- However, despite the aforementioned side effects, Stevie is considered safe to eat.
Stevia and pregnancy
In its natural form, home-grown Stevia (as well as whole-leaf Stevia and crude Stevia extract) is not advised for consumption during pregnancy.
However, when pregnant, you can use Reb-A – a refined Stevia product.
The 1991’s research held by the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) claimed that Stevia could cause cancer. However, in 1995 this statement was proved wrong. But there’s more!
Studies in 2012 and 2013 show that Stevia may have the opposite effect regarding cancer cells – it does not provoke their growth but even kills them. Those two studies found that one of Stevia’s components, called stevioside, can potentially kill cancer cells that cause breast cancer.
Further studies showed that Stevia could prevent cancer growth.
Is Stevia Positively Safe?
After all the aforementioned controversies, one may still wonder if Stevia is safe to consume by most people. The general answer is yes. Basically, Stevia is safe. However, it is important to mention that there have been no in-depth studies that would have shown Stevia’s long-term effects on the human body.
Today, Stevia is among the world’s most popular sweeteners like maple syrup, agave, cinnamon, etc. People use this calorie-free product in a number of forms:
- Dried stevia leaves
- Powdered stevia
- Stevia simple syrup
People add this sweetener in coffee, pancakes, waffles, and many other desserts, alcohol (and alcohol-free) cocktails, as well as many other beverages. Using Stevia is a perfect way of making sugar-free meals and drinks. There are multiple recipes with examples of using this plant to give natural sweetness to your food.
Below, we will show you how to grow this plant, harvest it, store it and process it to make Stevia syrup.
How to Grow Stevia
When grown properly, Stevia will reach at least thirty inches in height. However, there are examples when these plants grew up to sixty inches tall.
1. Here’s how you should grow Stevia
The best planting period is late winter. Make sure the place where you planted Bertoni is open to sunlight. Your best option would be a windowsill that is always sunny. Keep the plant there until frosts go.
When you take it outside, plant it in medium-rich soil. Don’t forget about compost. Pick a sunny spot for outside planting.
The planting spot should be hot and humid. As for watering, the requirements are average.
- If you grow your plant in a container, make sure it has drainage holes on the bottom – the roots must not be kept wet all of the time. It will harm them and eventually will kill the plant.
Use organic fertilizers. They will work very well with Bertoni. Such fertilizers don’t release nitrogen too quickly, which is just what you need for the plant’s healthy growth and development. Also, use compost.
Fertilizers and compost should be applied once a year if you grow the plant in the ground. If you hold it in a planting container, your best option is that compost’s amount equals 20 to 30 percent of the overall container’s volume. In this case, use fertilizers twice a year.
If you grow your Stevias outside, there should be no problem with pests. But if you use a greenhouse, whiteflies can harm the plants.
When you harvest the plant, take it indoors. Store it in a properly arranged spot and water regularly.
Remember that too much cold – let alone frost – will kill it.
If you follow all the right growing conditions and your stevias grow healthy and strong, you can harvest them in July. This is the best harvesting season for Stevias.
However, the main crops will be available only in late summer. This is the time when Stevias get mature and start to blossom excessively.
Stevies gain in sweetness when the summer air gets cool and days become shorter. But hurry up! When you see flowers all over your stevias, take no time – harvest the plants because before you know it, they will lose the sugar, becoming less sweet.
Actually, that is why so many people choose to harvest Stevias before cooler summer days come.
So now, when you have harvested your stevias, how do you store them? There are two main options:
- Making stevia extract
To dry your crops, use low heat, which is between 95 and 210 degrees Celcius. Combined with good air circulation, in a couple of days, this will give you dry leaves for storing or making powder out of them.
Another method is using a dehydrator. Or you can just leave Stevias under the sun for a few days – use this method if you have too many plants. When Stevies dry, you will need to separate leaves from stems. Note that stems are not edible – they are bitter.
The shelf-life of dried stevia leaves is one full year (twelve months). Use tightly sealed containers or plastic bags to store them – otherwise, the air and moisture get in and destroy your harvest.
You can also choose to make powdered stevia. Later, you can use the powder to sprinkle it on top of pancakes, muffins, etc.
5. Making stevia extract
The second way to store harvested stevias is making liquid extract. This option will require drying harvested leaves first.
Getting a liquid extract out of your stevias is quite easy and only takes a small set of simple ingredients. The process itself will take a few days.
When you get it done, you will have a mind-blowing sweetener many times sweeter than sugar. In fact, only a few drops of stevia’s liquid extract equal a teaspoon of sugar. And while this extract is so sweet, it is sugar-free.
Here’s what you will need:
- One glass jar (make sure you can shut it tightly);
- Dried stevias (you can powder, chop, or squash them);
- Strong alcohol (vodka or rum will do).
6. The recipe:
1) Take one cup, and fill it with a mixture of stevia and liquid.
Mix the ingredient in a 2:3 ratio. Next, pour the resulting content out of a cup into a glass jar. Add one and a half cut of alcohol. Mix the content, and then let sit still for about a day and a half.
- If you let the mixture sit for more than thirty-six hours, it will become bitter.
2) Then, you will need to filter the liquid and pour it into a bottle made of darkened glass.
This is necessary to prevent direct sunlight exposure because light can cause unwanted chemical reactions inside a bottle.
3) Your next step will be to simmer the liquid.
Use low heat because you don’t want the liquid to boil it. Simmering will make the alcohol evaporate. Don’t forget to stir the liquid as you simmer it. The process should take half an hour.
4) After that, let the mixture cool and then bottle it.
Keep the bottle of the extract in the refrigerator. The recommended storage period is six months.
You can use this extract as a sweetener. It is a perfect substitute not only for sugar but other popular sweeteners like Splenda.
Add stevia to sweeten coffee, tea, cocktails, and other drinks that are adding maple syrup, agave, or regular sugar. Feel free to browse for other recipes online.
But be careful not to make your food and beverages too sweet – stevia liquid is much sweeter than sugar. It only takes a few drops of it to give as much sweetness as one teaspoon of sugar.
The Stevia Syrup Recipe
Stevia syrup is the perfect way to make sugar-free drinks and sweeten your food. There are many recipes that will give you ideas on using stevia syrup as an alternative to maple syrup or vanilla simple syrup. Just one tsp of stevia syrup is as sweet as one cup of sugar. If you’re looking for a healthy and calorie-free recipe to give a sweet flavor to your meals, learn how to cook a quick and easy stevia simple syrup.
The stevia simple syrup recipe:
Things you will need:
- A cup
- A glass jar
- A small saucepan
- Dried stevias
Making a stevia simple syrup:
1) Take dried stevias (1/2 cup) with two cups of water.
2) Put the resulting blend into a glass jar and wait for 24 hours.
3) Next, put the blend into a saucepan and heat it until stevia is completely dissolved and the blend turns into a thick syrup.
4) And that is basically it – your quick and easy stevia simple syrup is ready to consume.
After letting the syrup cool, pour it into an air-tight jar or a bottle and keep it in a refrigerator. When properly stored, the simple syrup will be fine to use for a year and even longer.
Just remember to keep the syrup in a fridge for a longer shelflife.
Use this simple syrup for cooking sugar-free meals or making drinks. Browse for various recipes online for more ideas.
With this delicious syrup, you can substitute a wide array of artificial and other natural sweeteners like sugar, agave, maple tree syrup, monk fruit, and more. Give your meals natural flavors with little to no extra calories to keep yourself and your facility healthy and fit.
Stevia simple syrup is extremely popular with those deeply concerned about making sugar-free meals and drinks. The recipe for this simple syrup is very easy and takes little to no cooking experience. But the outcome is indeed fantastic. Stevia simple syrup is easily stored in a fridge and lasts for at least one year. If you have enough room in your house or own even a small but well-maintained garden, try planting stevias to then treat yourself and your family with stevia simple syrup.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is stevia syrup healthy?
Stevia simple syrup is a sugar-free natural sweetener that is extremely low on calories. That is why many people around the world use this syrup as a healthy sugar substitute. Today, there is no evidence that Bertoni simple syrup can cause any harm to one’s health.
Why was stevia banned?
Stevia got banned by the FDA back in 1991. The reason was that the research showed that it could potentially cause cancer. However, in 1995 that statement was proved wrong. Years later, studies showed that consuming Bertoni leaves could even kill cancer cells and prevent their growth. But, still, there have been no studies showing the long-term effects of consuming stevias and exploring their relation to cancer.
How to make a sugar-free syrup with stevia?
The recipe of a simple syrup out of dried Bertoni leaves is one of the easiest recipes one can think of. All you need is some dried leaves, water, and a couple of days. Mix dried Bertoni leaves with water and wait for 24 hours until the blend gets strained. After that, heat the blend until it gets denser and turns into a syrup. Use this simple syrup to cook pancakes, butter pecan ice cream, tea, coffee, or cocktails.