Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to use fresh herbs: stevia

As I was admiring my friend, Kim's beautiful pots of fresh herbs, she asked if I had any suggestions about how to use them. I think many of us would ask that question. Herbs are beautiful to grow and using them can add unexpected flavor to your everyday dishes.

I have decided to share from time to time how I use the herbs I grow. I am sure you could add some suggestions, so please feel free to comment about how you use them. I will try your suggestions, posting the best ones here on my blog.

Today, I would like to share how I use stevia and mint.

Stevia is the low-calorie sugar substitute you can buy in the store (usually in the health food section) to sweeten beverages. That is exactly what this herb will do. I use it all the time in my tea and I really prefer it to the dried and packaged version. Last year you couldn't find this anywhere, but this year they carry it at both Lowe's and Home Depot.

If you chew a leaf, you will find that the flavor is very sweet.

To sweeten tea, I steep crushed leaves along with my loose tea or tea bag and strain the tea into a teacup. The tea has a pleasant, sweet flavor. Here I used Republic of Tea's Double matcha green tea and two large leaves. (I think as the weather gets hotter, this herb gets sweeter. You will need to experiment until you find the number of crushed leaves you need to suit your taste.)

After this, I often add mint to give the tea a little extra flavor. I don't mind if the mint leaves float in my tea, but they do turn dark in really hot water. This sweetener is healthy, sweet AND cheap when you grow it yourself.

Coming in a later blog -- more about mint.


  1. I am going to have to get me some stevia for my tea!

  2. I just started growing Stevia and was looking for instructions on how to use it in homemade iced tea. How many leaves would you use to sweeten a 3.5 quart of freshly brewed iced tea? I realize it's to taste but didn't want to over-sweeten the pitcher! And you just pluck it from the plant, you don't dry it correct? Thanks!

  3. I just happened on your blog. I started a little plant from seed and was wondering how to use it now that it was getting big enough. I gave my 14 yo son a taste of a leaf and he wrestled me for the rest of it. That's the first time he fought me to eat something green! :) Thanks for the info. I'm new to growing herbs, and gardening, and now that I'm successfully growing things I'm trying to learn how to use them.

  4. I think one to two leaves is perfect for a cup. It will probably take a quarter cup or so for a pitcher. You might try boiling some leaves like you do simple sugar and then go from there. In fact, I think I might give that a try myself!

    I also plan to experiment with drying the leaves. I have some dried ones now but I don't know what the taste will be. I hope to blog about that as soon as I have time.

  5. Is there a way to use stevia that you grow as a baking substitute? I'd love to grow it and use it in breads, scones, etc. Would you dry it and then grind it up? :-)

  6. Kirsten, I think drying it could work. I hope to experiment more with stevia this year -- as soon as my stevia comes back. So far the cold winter has killed it back. I will be happy when it starts to grow.

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