Stevia - Nature's Other Sweetener
Stevia (rebaudiana bertoni), a small plant that grows throughout Latin America as well as parts of the southwestern United States is becoming much sought after for its sweet leaves and flower buds. It has been used for hundreds of years as a sweetener in South America and now has wide commercial value in Japan, where it is put in everything from soft drinks to soy sauce. With thirty times the sweetness of sugar yet with negligible calories, this herb is expected by Japanese researchers to be the main natural sweetener of the future.
Because Stevia is a whole herbal food, it contains other properties that nicely complement its sweetness. A report from the Hiroshima University School of Dentistry indicates that Stevia actually supresses dental bacteria growth rather than feeding it as sugars do. Other studies have shown a a beneficial relationship between Stevia and the regulation of blood sugar levels which means that it is certainly safe and may even be beneficical for people with hypoglycemia or diabetes.
The extract of the Stevia plant is a white, crystalline powder taken from the leaves and is approximately 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetness is not affected by heat so it can be used in teas and other hot beverages, in the canning of fruits and the baking of cakes and deserts.
In Japan, Stevia has been used extensively in food and beverages for the last twenty five years with approval from the Japanese equivalent of our ANZFA. Not a single report of side effects or adverse effects of any kind have been reported in Japan. Paraguayans have continuously used Stevia for over 1500 years with no reported ill effects.
If you are a diabetic or care for someone who is, you can feel safe knowing that Stevia is perfect for the diabetic or hypoglycemic. Stevia provides ideal sweetening properties without the use of sugar for those who cannot or choose not to consume any form of sugar. This is true regardless of the levels of consumption.
Directions for Use
To make stevia liquid concentrate, mix equal quantities of water and stevia powder (e.g. 3 tablespoons water to 3 tablespoons stevia powder) in a container and stir until stevia is dissolved. This usually takes a couple of minutes. Store in a dropper bottle.
|2 drops of liquid concentrate||= 1 teaspoon sugar|
|1ml of liquid concentrate||= 100g sugar|
Use in puddings, sauces, baked goods, salad dressings, hot and cold drinks etc. Can be substituted for all or just some of the sugar in a recipe. Not recommended for making jam because unlike sugar stevia is not a preservative.