Stevia is a very tender perennial herb used as a natural sweetener. Some scientific studies suggest that stevia may in fact help to stabilize the blood sugar, making it a useful herb for people who struggle with blood sugar issues. In some circles, stevia is known as “the diabetic herb.” Stevia is available commercially in granulated form, and in liquid form, either in a glycerine base or in an alcohol base. Because additives in commercially prepared stevia products have recently come under fire, it’s good to know that stevia extract can be made quickly and easily at home. Today I’ll be showing you how I make the alcohol-based version of stevia extract.
Step 1) Harvest your home-grown stevia; as an alternative, purchase stevia leaves, found in health food sections of your grocery store. Gently rinse and dry your fresh leaves. Glycoside, the naturally occurring element that makes stevia sweet, is found only in the leaves, so discard the stems.
Step 2) In a sterile glass jar (with a lid), pack your clean, dry leaves.
Step 3) Cover the leaves with vodka. I use Everclear vodka because of its high alcohol content, but any vodka, which is tasteless and used for many herbal tinctures, will do; alcohol quickly and efficiently draws the glycosides out.
Step 3) Cover the jar with the lid and place the jar in a dark, cool place for 36 hours.
Step 4) You’ll probably be rereading Step 3 at this point. Thirty-six hours?!?! But don’t herbal tinctures–and this certainly qualifies as that–take weeks, even months to draw out the medicinal qualities of an herb? Yes, all that is true, but stevia is different. Longer than 36 hours, and your tincture will become quite bitter. It’s the sweetness we want when tincturing stevia, and leaving it longer will likely make the tincture unpalatable.
Step 5) Using a funnel and another sterile jar, strain your extract into your second jar. And that’s it! You’ll end up with a beautiful green tincture in an alcohol base. You’ll only need to use a few drops of stevia extract for a cup of tea, so the alcohol content is of little concern for most people.