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Stevia Rebaudiana - A Natural Sweetener

Posted by Jordan | Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | , | 1 comments »


I purchased two of these wonderful plants last month from one of the local garden stores. The Stevia Rebaudiana plant is an herb that is used as an alternative for sugar as a sweetener. Annah and I have so far only eaten some of the leaves raw, taken right off the plant, and they are very sweet with a little bit of an herbal flavor. Next, we will be experimenting with brewing some of the leaves as a tea. Refined Stevia extracts and dried Stevia powder are extremely sweet and can be used in cooking. It is also beneficial to eat because it contains practically no calories when consumed.

Our Stevia Rebaudiana have grown quite a bit in the recent weeks with the sunny, 80-90 degree, and humid weather that we have been having. We expect to have them outside until the cold weather returns at which time we will try to winter them indoors, which is supposed to be relatively easy with Stevia Rebaudiana.

Some other interesting facts that I found out about Stevia in this article at Stevia.com are:

  • Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb in the Chrysanthemum family which grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves, including up to 10% Stevioside, account for its incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants.

  • There are indications that Stevia (or Ca-he-he) has been used to sweeten a native beverage called mate since Pre-Columbian times. However, a Natural Scientist names Antonio Bertoni first recorded its usage by native tribes in 1887.

  • ...Two tests conducted by Purdue University's Dental Science Research Group have concluded that Stevioside is both fluo-ride compatible and "significantly" inhibits the development of plaque, thus Stevia may actually help to prevent cavities.

  • Stevia does not caramelize as sugar does. Meringues may also be difficult since Stevia does not brown or crystalize as sugar does.

  • [The future for Stevia is bright] as long as the gene stock of the Native Paraguay Stevia Rebaudiana species is preserved in the wild. Overharvesting and foreign transplantation has depleted this stock which contains the greatest possible gene diversity, essential to the strength and continuance of the species.
The last point is interesting because the fact that I purchased this from a garden store that had to at some point remove it from its native habitat, I am in some way contributing to the decline of the genetic diversity of Stevia Rebaudiana. I did not intend this since I wish to help protect and promote the biodiversity of every living plant and animal on Earth.

As long as the natural genetic diversity can be maintained in Paraguay, I recommend that all of you grow this wonderful plant on your own!

1 comments

  1. mr_subjunctive // July 23, 2008 at 5:14 AM  

    Howdy. I tagged you (both of you, kinda) for the six-things-about-myself meme.