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Sweetleaf Nature's Organic Sweetener. The Stevia plant provides calorie free, guilt free sugar substitute.

Sweetleaf is a relatively unknown organic sweetener with no calories. This fine plant grows like a weed if you put it outside, providing a renewable  sugar substitute without the health risks involved with many artificial, chemical sweeteners known today.


The sweetleaf plant can be found in plant shops and garden stores in spring. Or you can find the sweetleaf seeds online. The actual, professional name for this plant is Stevia. Stevia is often used in a processed form to provide a calorie free sweetener for foods, tea and coffee. You can find one of these processed forms in most grocery stores today. But I avoid processed, manufactured foods because in order to patent a food item, it cannot be something found in nature on its own, so it must be changed or processed in some way. And anyway, why would you want to mess with nature?


The Stevia plant grows just as happily inside in a pot during winter, or outside in the garden in summer. With proper care, this plant provides an unlimited supply of natural, sugar free and calorie free sweetener all year round. The plant in the photo above was outside during summer and then transplanted into a pot and taken indoors for the winter months. This is a current photo in mid March, 2011. 


There are no known side effects of Stevia plant usage. There have not been many studies done on the Sweetleaf plant, but it has been in use as a sweetener in many countries for hundreds of years. 




The raw Stevia leaf, when used as a sweetener is considered to be 10-15 times sweeter than suger. And the refined Stevia extract is considered 200-300 time sweeter than table sugar. This makes Sweetleaf valuable as an organic and healthy sugar substitute. Stevia has been in heavy usage in Japan for many years with no ill effects reported. Indians in Paraguay have been using it for hundreds of years as a natural sweetener. It has been used in many types of foods and drinks. Stay tuned for a natural  Stevia cola recipe later on in our blog. 


You can use the Stevia leaf directly as a sweetener in your cooking, tea or coffee; or you can process it yourself at home to extract the essential oils. Soak Stevia leaves in pure grain alcohol for 24 hours to extract the essential oils. Filter and use the liquid directly, or heat it gently, avoiding a boil, in order to evaporate the alcohol off. Be careful, this is very sweet and very little of the Sweetleaf extract is needed to sweeten your food or drinks.  And, an added benefit of using pure Stevia leaf, is that you get some natural minerals and vitamins in trace amounts from the leaf. 


Harvesting Sweetleaf

To harvest Stevia, simply get out your scissors or plant trimmers and cut just above a leaf pair a few inches above the base of each stem. I leave about 6-8 inches of stem with its leaves intact in order to allow the plant to keep growing well. If you cut just above a leaf pair, the plant will sprout out and branch at that point in the future as it grows. This will cause the plant to become bushy and provide more branches for you to harvest next time.


Refer to the image above to see where to cut the Stevia plant in order to harvest its leaves for use. Now, you can lay the harvested leaves and stems on a tray and leave them out to dry. You can speed up the drying process if you have a gas oven. Placing the tray full of Sweetleaf into your oven with just the pilot light on will dry out your plants in about a day. Otherwise, place the tray somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight for a few days. When the leaves crumble to the touch, they are dry and ready for use.


After the leaves are dry, they will look like the next image.


Now you can enjoy your organic, all natural and calorie free sweetener. And you do not need to feel guilty or worry about your health with this all natural sweetener from the earth.

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Troy Reid


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