Ever heard of the Stevia herb? The natural sweetener or as many refer to it the healthy sugar substitute, found in the leaves of the plant Stevia Rebaudiana. It is a great herb to add to your cooking collection – loves the sun but can also stay in partial afternoon shade and loves to drink water!
This Calorie- free natural sweetener, native to tropical areas in America has been used to sweeten beverages for centuries. Recently though, many diabetics and dieters have turned to the stevia plant to reduce their sugar intake since this plant has ZERO CALORIES. You can dry and crush the leaves to replace sugars in teas! It is great to use in fruit salads, drinks, creamy deserts and you could also replace some of the sugar needed in baking with this plant – keeping your sweet taste but reducing your calorie intake J – come on that’s a WIN WIN situation.
As a plant the Stevia grows well in containers displaying crisp white flowers when in bloom. To maximize leaf production you must trim back your stevia several times to increase leaf production. Ideally trimming should be done once the plant is around 20cms in height and then once again in early summer. This should be done to avoid it growing leggy and you can also use the leaves from the trimmed branches.
One easy way to have you Stevia ready for use is to prepare naturally sweet ice cubes:-
Prepare one tablespoon of dried Stevia leaves
Pour 1 liter of boiling water over the leaves and allow it to infuse.
Freeze the mixture in ice cubes for future use.
Stevia can also be added in Mojito’s as well as Refreshing strawberry lemonade or the classic lemonade. Add to your taste since the fruit you will be using play an important role in the balance of your sweetness – crush the leaves to bring out the flavor!
Happy Experimenting – Piscopo Gardens Burmarrad – Open 7 days a week between 9:00am and 6:00pm