Last Spring, I came across some Stevia plants while picking up some bedding plants at Canadian Tire. I remember just a few years ago, even the seeds were hard to find and when I did, they were very expensive. Now the price has come down somewhat, and they are being sold as bedding plants as well.
I picked up two plants and they sat out on the porch all Spring and early Summer. I brought them along to Prince Rupert when we headed that way and had them outside there for awhile. Once the nights started really cooling down, I brought the plants in and set them in a sunny window.
Here’s a few pictures of the plants and how I use harvested and dried the leaves. Stevia makes a great substitute for sugar! I think it’s much better for a person to use Stevia rather than Sweet n Low or Splenda, as the Stevia plant has no chemicals in it. Just add water with no fertilizer and it is a “natural” plant.
It’s quite a pretty plant – I should have probably kept it trimmed lower but I let it go. Eventually it started trailing.
You can easily pinch off a few leaves at a time if you like, or let it start trailing and then give it a good haircut!
I snipped the stems right above a spot on the stem which had two leaves on either side. I snipped the leaves off of the stem and onto a large plate.
When I was finished I had ended up with a large serving platter and a wide serving bowl full of Stevia leaves.
All I did to dry them (it was summer, after all) was to leave them out on the counter out of direct sunlight. I would give them a good stir with my fingers two or three times a day. Within a few days, they looked like this
Once they felt quite dry to the touch, I put them into a Ziplock bag and use my rolling pin to crush the leaves – you could do this by hand if you prefer not to use plastic.
Then I transferred the crushed leaves into a small glass Pyrex bowl with a lid. I have been using it in my coffee, I just add it in with a spoon. Stevia is a lot more healthy for a person that using sugar. If you want some great recipes using Stevia, take a look at the link.