Today, I wrote an article for Not Dabbling in Normal about the benefits of growing stevia, a plant that naturally produces very sweet leaves. One can chew on the leaves and get a pretty good rush of sweet, but it’s not terribly convenient or attractive to grind up leaves when cooking.
I decided to make a stevia extract which is a liquid into which the sweetness of the stevia leaves has been concentrated. I saw a variety of articles and recipes on how to make stevia extract, but two in particular caught my attention. Each required a liquid to make the extract. One used water, the other used vodka. I decided to try both varieties and see which I liked better.
I am not much of a drinker. In fact, I am pretty much not a drinker at all except for the occasional medicinal shot of brandy when I have a sore throat. Aside from that, I don’t know the difference between varieties of alcohol. I walked into the local drug store and headed for the liquor aisle where a huge array of vodkas greeted me. I didn’t know one brand from another so I decided the surest way to pick a good vodka must be by the aesthetics of the label. I looked and looked and debated, but I finally settled on Gordon’s vodka. See? Doesn’t it just look pretty. The simple light blue label just seemed pleasant to me…it must be good stuff.
So I got the vodka and headed home. To make both the vodka and the water-based extracts, I coarsely cut stevia leaves until I had 2 cups for each recipe. I don’t really know what a coarse cutting is, so I decided to use coarse language as I sliced the leaves into chunks. I can’t really see how it will help make things sweeter, but if the recipe calls for cussing, I figured I better oblige (actually, I called in Emily…she’s the pro).
So, into a mason jar I added 2 cups of leaves and one cup of my liquid – vodka in one jar, water in another. I covered each and will let it stand for 24 hours gently shaking the jars a few times during that period. I started the brew last night and the liquid has turned green by this morning. The vodka-based extract is greener so I suppose it has drawn more of the essence of the stevia out. At the end of the soaking period, I will filter each through a coffee filter and then simmer the extract over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to concentrate the extract and remove the alcohol. It’s best to store the liquid in a jar in the refrigerator for future use.
Everywhere I have read says that I will need to dilute the extract with water before using in a recipe. I suppose the sweetness of the mix is very powerful. I’ll know more about that soon! We’ll use these extracts in cooking and I’ll report back later.
So, what do you think? Have you heard of or used stevia (or truvia, the store variety)? Did I buy a descent variety of vodka?