Homemade Stevia Extract

The weather this spring has been weird. We had unseasonably cold weather until May! Even though I hadn’t planned on putting in a garden this year, a couple weeks ago the whole clan was at the garden center buying plants and soil. It sort of felt like the late frosts were a “gimme” from nature saying “Go on, you still have time!”

So we planted a ton of stuff…tomatos, basil, spearmint, carrots, onions, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, and stevia.

I’ve never grown stevia before, but it seemed like a good idea. Stevia is my only sweetener of choice on this elimination diet, and while I haven’t seen any problems with the one I’m using, making things from scratch is almost always better!

So I was looking forward to later in the year when I could harvest some stevia and make some extract.

My stevia plants, on the other hand, had a different plan. One day when I was out saying “hi” to my garden, I noticed some blooms on the plants. I know you’re supposed to pinch back before they bloom so the plant will keep growing, so I started doing some minor pruning. These stevia plants were so sad looking when we put them in, and we got such high wind for a few days afterwards (think the remains of the Oklahoma tornados) that I guess it just was a bit too much for my little plants: whole stems broke off in my hands from the slightest touch!

Poor little breakaways...

Poor little breakaways…

So now here I sat with a mess of stevia in my hands and I wracked my brain trying to remember how to do this! Turns out, it’s insanely simple, and insanely tasty!!

It’s very similar to making homemade vanilla extract. So here’s what you do:

Pull off the leaves of the stevia plant and put them in a jar. Be sure not to use the stem; it makes the extract bitter!

Pretty little leaves

Pretty little leaves

Then cover the leaves with vodka. Be sure to use potato-based vodka if you have a corn sensitivity!

I actually added a bit more vodka after I took this picture.

I actually added a bit more vodka after I took this picture.

Swish it around quite a bit, and leave it alone for 24-36 hours.

24 hours later...

24 hours later…

Then pour the liquid into a saucepan, straining out the leaves with a mesh strainer and maybe a coffee filter, if necessary.

Straining the mixture

Straining the mixture

It will fairly well REEK of vodka, so you need to cook off the alcohol to have a sweet extract. Turn the fire on low or medium-low; do NOT boil this! Cook it at a low temperature for 20-30 minutes until it thickens and reduces.

Cooking off the booze

Cooking off the booze

Then pour that into a glass bottle and store in the fridge! Easy peasy!

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

A few notes:

I did this from memory; I’d read about making stevia extract over a year ago, before Zac was born but never had any stevia leaves to try it with! I went back to refresh my memory right before cooking it, and saw that I may have messed up from the beginning!

About half the tutorials I saw said to dry the leaves first. They claim it makes for a sweeter extract that way.

The other half that used fresh leaves bruised or even chopped the leaves first.

I, obviously, did neither!

And you know what? My extract was delicious! So I don’t know if those steps are necessary, but I’ll be willing to give them a shot next time I make it.

The other thing is pretty obvious: did you see how much vodka I poured into the pan versus how much extract is in the brown bottle? Yeah, this reduces A LOT. So unless you’re starting with a considerable amount of leaves and vodka, you will not get enough to even sweeten one tall glass of tea.

But it is OH so worth the effort! It was sweet without any of the typical stevia sweetened aftertaste!

In fact, thanks to this little experiment, I went out and bought three more stevia plants for my garden.

I’m thinking there’s no way I can possibly grow enough stevia. I’m in love with this extract!

Try it – I think you’ll like it!

Oh, and one little caveat: apparently, not all stevia’s are created equal. “Stevia rebaudiana” is the species of stevia you’ll want for this. It’s also called “sweetleaf”, for obvious reasons.

Happy extracting!

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8 Responses to Homemade Stevia Extract

  1. Lesley says:

    Well this is awesome! Where did you get the stevia to grow?

    • Carrie says:

      That little gardening center near Mission & Crossover. I can’t remember their name, but it’s a purple building with beautiful grounds!

      Others report buying their plants online, which is what I’d intended to do, but…last minute garden and all! 🙂

  2. This is a great post! I have been thinking about growing stevia just for the purpose of a natural sweetener I can…grow…myself 😉 Thanks for the walk through of how to process it to use when I finally get around to growing some!

  3. Gail says:

    Awesome, indeed! Wish that I had seen this earlier. I have locally seen stevia plants but had no idea how to get sweetener from them.
    How do you know when it is cooked down enough7
    I saw this on kellythekitchenkop.

    • Carrie says:

      Hey Gail! I basically just kept smelling it to check on the vodka aroma. When I couldn’t smell vodka any more, I called it done! (Thanks for letting me know where you found me!) Hope this helps.

  4. Mary Kate says:

    When I make tinctures/extracts, I usually let my herbs sit in vodka for about 6 weeks (you have to keep a brown paper bag over the glass jar to keep light out and shake it once a day, once fully extracted I strain into a brown beer bottle and use a wine cork to close it). I am wondering if I could do the same with my dried stevia stash. Is there an issue with extracting stevia for weeks rather than days, other than the fact that too much light will ruin (but that is usually fixed by the paper bag trick). I have never cooked off the alcohol before because I am usually making medicine tinctures, but I would definitely want to do so for a stevia extract. Thank you for the tips!

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Mary Kate!

      You know, that’s a good question. When I was reading the many tutorials I reviewed before trying this, they were specific about it being something you only soak for a short while. Every one said that the stevia would turn bitter if soaked for too long.

      If you decide to give a longer steep a try, I’d be interested in hearing if the bitterness reports are true. 🙂

      Your method that you described is exactly how I make vanilla, though! What medicine tinctures do you make?

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