How to Grow Stevia and Make Homemade Stevia Extract

How to Grow Stevia and Make Homemade Stevia Extract from Fresh or Dried Leaves

Have you ever wondered if it was possible to learn how to grow stevia and make homemade stevia extract – that “miracle” plant that is sweeter than sugar – for sweetener instead of paying through the nose for those little packets in the store? You can grow stevia at home, in pots or in your garden, and harvest it for dried leaves or extract.

Starting Stevia Plants from Seed

I purchased my stevia seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds (currently priced at $2.50 for 15 seeds).  Seeds are started much the same as any other garden seeds.  Visit my post on seed starting for more details.  The book “Growing and Using Stevia” states that darker seeds tend to have higher germination rates.  The instructions given below are based on those detailed in the book.  Seeds should be started inside 8-10 weeks before transplanting outside.

Place 1-3 seeds in each cell and lightly cover with fine potting soil or vermiculite 1/8 inch thick.  Spritz or mist with water to settle the soil.  Place seeds under a clear plastic cover (you can recycle plastic produce containers or use products specifically for seed starting).  Use fluorescent lighting to supply light and keep the temperature between 75-80 degrees F.  The book “Growing and Using Stevia” suggests keeping the lights on for 24 hours per day at first, then maintaining at least 15 hours of light about three weeks after sowing.

Seedlings should emerge in 7-14 days.  Remove cover after seedlings emerge to help prevent damping off.  When seedlings are growing strongly (have distinct leaves), thin them to one per cell by cutting off weaker plants at soil level.

The book suggests only watering from below every 3-5 days so the soil stays moist but not soggy.  I watered mine the same as I water everything else – gently from above.  A small amount of fish emulsion or other natural fertilizer may be added to the water as the plants grow.

How to Transplant Stevia Seedlings

When seedlings reach around 5 inches tall, trim 1-2 inches off the man shoot to promote branching.  (You may use these leaves for sweetening.)

When you are ready to move your plants into a larger pot or the garden (at about 8-10 weeks after planting), they must be hardened off before moving outside.  For pot plantings, move the seedlings to 4-5 inch pots.  (They may be moved into larger post as they grow.)

Harden off by moving pots/seedlings outside in a protected area out of direct wind and sun for a few hours each day, gradually increasing their time outside.  When plants have had a chance to acclimate to outside conditions, pots may be moved into full sunlight and plants may be planted into the garden.  The plants are tended and do not tolerate frost, so protect or move inside if temperatures are expected to drop below 40F.  Stevia plants prefer not too heavy soil and neutral pH.  (You may need to plant in raised beds or pots if you have heavy clay soil.)

In fall, bring the plant inside if desired.  I dug up two of mine from the garden and they have now survived two winters.  Here they are this spring before I cut them back.  You can see they are reaching for the sun and getting a bit leggy.

stevia plant in pot

Harvesting and Drying Stevia

Leaves may be harvested and used at any time.  Fresh leaves pair well with mint for an easy, refreshing herbal tea.  For a large single harvest, pick in late summer or fall just as plants are stating to blossom.  If you wish to overwinter plants, leave at least 6 inches of plant intact to allow regrowth.  Most recipes call for dried stevia powder or liquid stevia extract so that the flavor spreads more uniformly through the substance being sweetened, but feel free to experiment with fresh leaves.

When harvesting, the leaves are much sweeter than the stem, so the stem is typically discarded.  Stevia is harvested and dried like most herbs.  You can cut off the desired stems from the plant and bundle them in small bundles (less than 1 inch in diameter) and hang dry, and strip the leaves after they have dried.  Alternatively, you can strip the leaves off the cut stems and dry them in a homemade or commercial dehydrator on low heat.  Dried leaves will keep well for several years stored in a tightly sealed glass jar, and can be ground in batches as needed for recipes.  3-4 teaspoons of dried green stevia replaces one cup of refined sugar for sweetening, but you will need to experiment or find a good stevia recipe book, because substituting stevia will change the texture and baking properties of food.

How to Make Stevia Extract at Home

Making homemade stevia extract is actually pretty easy, once you have the stevia.  You can use fresh or dried stevia, although I’ve read that extract from the dried leaves tends to be more bitter.   I made an alcohol based extract with fresh leaves and it turned out quite well.

Homemade Alcohol Based Stevia Extract

Here’s a bundle of leaves harvested from my stevia last fall.

stevia for stevia extract

If you look closely, you can see that the leaves and stems are somewhat fuzzy.

stevia leaf

Start with clean stevia leaves, either fresh or dried.  I rinsed my leaves off and gave them a spin in the salad spinner.  Chop (or break up) the leaves (you don’t want powder because it’s very messy).  Place the leaf bits in a glass jar, and then pour in enough edible alcohol to cover.  (Do not use rubbing alcohol.)  I used vodka because it has the most neutral flavor.  Label and put in a cool spot out of direct sunlight for two days, shaking or mixing gently a few times per day.  (I put mine in my pantry.  Note:  The liquid level in the photo looks low because I am tilting the jar for the photo.  The leaves should be submerged.)

homemade stevia extract

Don’t let it sit longer to try and get a stronger flavor.  It will get more bitter.  Don’t include stems so you have more material.  They don’t contain much glycoside, which is what makes the stevia sweet.

After two days, strain your now pale leaves through a coffee filter, cheesecloth, flour sack towel or other fine material.  I used my jelly strainer bag in the bottom of my regular strainer.

stevia leaves in strainer

Take the stevia liquid and cook it over low heat – do not boil, or you will ruin it – it will burn and taste nasty.

stevia liquid

Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes to drive off some of the alcohol and concentrate the extract.  It will get darker and a bit thicker and some particulates may precipitate out.

concentrated stevia extract

Strain through a filter into an opaque bottle (I recycled a vanilla extract bottle).  Tincture bottles are great if you have them on hand, as it only takes a few drops of extract to sweeten a drink or recipe.

stevia extract in jar

Cover, label and date.  This extract will keep for around three months in the refrigerator.  I found this extract to be quite sweet with very little bitterness.  Given that the tiny bottles of stevia extract generally sell for at least $10 each, you can see how this would save you a lot of money over time if you use a lot of stevia.

homemade stevia extract

Homemade Water Based Stevia Extract

Adapted from “Growing and Using Stevia

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried stevia leaves, tightly packed
  • 1 cup water

Directions

Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Do not boil.  you should see small bubbles only.  Stir in dried stevia leaves and remove from heat.  Cover and let steep for 40 minutes.  Strain out leaves.  Pour into a clean glass jar, cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.  Yields approximately 1/2 cup extract.

Mountain Rose Herbs stocks both stevia seeds for planting and dried stevia leaves.  They also carry an assortment of bottles, droppers and supplies.  Plus, if you buy through my site, I get a small affiliate payment.  (Thank you!)

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

If you’ve been thinking of trying something new in the garden, or you use a lot of stevia and would like to save some money by growing your own, I encourage you to give stevia a try.  It’s really quite easy to grow once you get the seeds started, and my plants are over two years old and still producing.  My only regret is that I didn’t learn how to make the extract sooner and save myself some money.  :-)  As always, remember to share this post far and wide if you like it, because I’ve got no advertising budget. ;-)

How to Grow Stevia and Make Homemade Stevia Extract from Fresh or Dried Leaves

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Featured on Homestead Barn Hop #55, Fat Tuesday, Fight Back Friday.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this post. I grew stevia last year and dried it, but wasn’t sure where to go from there. It’s still hanging in the basement!

    • kelly says

      Dried leaves for consumption can also be purchased from San Francisco Herb co or Atlantic Spice. Check both sites because price may vary according to availability and your physical location (for shipping). Last time I ordered it was a $35 minimum. They ship in bulk. Both dried botanicals and herbs. Some bulk spices and dried foods. They also carry bottles and droppers. Vodka works great with other dried botanicals to draw absolut and i LOVE these instructions. Ya shoulda been a teacher!!!

      • says

        Thanks, Kelly. I do homeschool me boys, and “teach” here. I also acted as an assistant instructor back in college (statistics class -ugh – don’t miss that at all!). Life is learning.

  2. says

    thank you for this fantastic article! we use alot of stevia around here, and it would certainly be nice to not have to spend so much money on it! i’ll be adding the stevia plant to my potted herbs this summer :)

  3. says

    Great post. Visiting from The Barn Hop.

    I’ve seen so many “grow your own stevia posts” out there but none of them go on to describe how to USE it once you’ve grown it. Thanks much – can’t wait to try out the extract!

  4. says

    Outstanding information. I’ve grown purple cone flower for the echninacea but never considered this.

    A few months back you mentioned a guest post on your blog on self defense but I don’t have an email. You have my email from this, feel free to contact me if you are still interested. My partner is an engineer and we both thoroughly enjoy your blog.

  5. angeljoy says

    Fascinating…. I’ve been eyeing the Stevia plants at the hardware store, but didn’t know how to process the leaf to get to the sweet. I couldn’t quite fathom crushing leaves and stirring it into my coffee every morning… ;)

    • says

      Oh yeah – the exact it MUCH easier! The leaves are sweet, don’t get me wrong, but to me they still taste “planty”, which is not something I want in my beverages (or chunks).

  6. Cheryl DeCaire says

    Thanks for the article. I’ve wondered how to make an extract, how simple is that? Only one problem though, if I prepare the stevia and vodka as shown, I’d throw in some fresh mint and it would never make it to the stove!!! Add some fresh squeezed lime juice and a wonderful vodka mojito is in order! :)

  7. Giddy Gourmet says

    What a great article! I’ll be adding Stevia to my herb garden this year. I usually end up drying my other herbs but will make the Stevia extract as described. Thanks for sharing ;)

  8. Pat says

    So glad I found this, I just planted my first stevia plants and was wondering how I was goin to use it. Thanks so much for your info.

  9. says

    I grow stevia and find it impossible to grow from seed. Those darn seeds can be expensive too. One year I tried to root a stem from the mother plant. No matter how hard I tried, it wouldn’t root.

    I dried the leaves but to be honest, they are bitter. I am going to try your method and make a fresh tincture.

    Once I let the stevia go to seed and harvested the “seed.” Still no luck getting those darn seeds to take! Thanks for the great post.

    • says

      Anna- Stevia can be a fussy germinator. I make sure to use fresh seed from a source I trust. I haven’t tried rooting a cutting yet, but I may this year since my plants are now two years old.

      Thanks for taking time to comment and share your thoughts. :-)

    • From NZ says

      I took a cutting from my mother plant and got it to root first time. My method was to sit it in a jar of water and add a small amount of willow water whenever the water level dropped noticeably. It took quite a long time to put out roots (I may have been a bit light with the willow water, but I almost killed it when I first put it in straight willow water), maybe a month or more, but eventually it put out good strong roots. The cutting/child plant is sitting outside in a pot (and a storm) as I write.

      I imagine any rooting hormone would do the trick, I used willow water as it was free to make and fun.

      • says

        That’s neat. I’ve never tried willow water, as I don’t have any willows handy, but I don’t mess around with cutting propagation too much, either. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Ani says

        Yep, Stevia is indeed slow to root — tho I had very little trouble originally starting my crop from (yes, expensive!) seed and really didn’t even do it right lol . . .
        I imagine having trouble rooting em is bc I’ve had bad timing and wrong kinda cuttings – but even so, have btwn 25 to 50% success rate.
        I’m guessing (and testing) young new shoots in spring this time (older woody-stem shoots have a hard time in late spring/summer).
        Number of hours of light v. darkness might also be an important key
        Another thing to experiment with is direct sunlight v. indirect v. controlled artificial lights.

        What is “willow water”?
        I have some willow bark I collected from a dead willow – I put a little of that in water right with the cuttings.
        Can’t really tell if it makes a dif ? ? ?

        Ani

  10. Tangerine says

    The extract only keeps for 2 weeks? Is there anything that can be done to make it last longer? I’ve been wanting to do this, but It seems like a lot of work to only last for a short time.

    • says

      Tangerine – the only way to extend the shelf life is to add some sort of preservative – like alcohol. With the water based extract, you’ve basically got plant juice in a jar. Even though it’s sterilized, it’s only going to keep so long. Your only other option would be freezing, but I haven’t tried that and haven’t seen it recommended.

  11. elaine says

    oh thank you so very much for all this information! i’m way post gastric bypass, very limited budget, have been growing one straggly plant all while diligently looking for this! now i’m so excited that i’m going to order some seeds to get some more plants going!

    • says

      Elaine- I grew the plants for a couple years myself before I figured this out. I tried using the leaves fresh and dried, but this is so much more convenient once it’s done. I hope your seeds sprout well and you are soon set with stevia. :-)

  12. Veronica says

    If you have a smaller batch, does it need to cook less than 20 minutes? And a larger batch more than 20? Or is it always 20 minutes? My vodka & stevia liquid is on the stove now! Thanks for this post! :D

    • says

      Sorry I didn’t catch this sooner. I was in the kitchen. It should cook around 20-30 minutes. You’re looking to reduce the volume by about half or so. Watch for the color change, but be careful not to burn it.

  13. Kathryn says

    Do you harvest leaves from your plant over the winter?? Or is it better to used dried leaves during the winter months?? Thanks for the great article! Can’t wait to give it a try…

  14. Alla says

    What a great article! Laurie, thank you very much for sharing this information with us. Today, I bought my first stevia plant with the intention of planting it a in pot to hopefully harvest it all year around. I will most definitely follow your instructions.

      • Laura says

        I bought a stevia plant two years ago and keep it in a container (it’s up to a two gallon pot!) and I bring it in during the winter. This year I put it in a southern window and it’s going bonkers. It loves it. I’m watering once a week and can harvest every month, even when it’s 0 degrees outside and snowing.

        I make tinctures of all my herbs for medicinal purposes and use vodka as the medium to draw out the properties. These tinctures last for years so I have believed that stevia tincture would be the same. The only processing difference is that my tinctures are left for 6-8 wks instead of two days and there is no cooking at the end of it. Do you think this would work for stevia too?

        • says

          Don’t leave the stevia to steep longer, as it will bring out the bitter compounds. If you don’t cook off the alcohol, if will indeed have a much longer shelf life, but be much less sweet.

          • Holly Schroeder says

            I wondered about the long term storage as well. So if we only cook the alcohol off when we need a new batch it would work.

  15. bonnie says

    this is awesome! i planted 3 stevia plants and two survived. I wish i saw this sooner to know to cut back for more sprouting. so after harvesting you dug yours up and brought them in and put them in a pot? or did you let them dry out and replant them? i know, silly but I’m new at this and want to keep these plants going.

  16. Carolyn says

    How well and how long do the dried stevia leaves retain their sweetness? I’m thinking that maybe hanging the plants upside down in a dark place & letting them dry naturally, then making the extract a batch at a time, would be the way to go since the shelf life of the extract is so short. Depending, of course, on how much you use. Have you ever tried making the extract from dried leaves that are a year old, for instance?

    • says

      I haven’t tried making it with dried leaves yet, so I can’t compare the tastes personally, but a number of sites do recommend using the dried leaves. Most herbs keep their quality pretty well during the first year. I’d say give it a try – you’ve got nothing to loose.

  17. says

    I’ve grown stevia before, but was at a loss as to what to do with it. I harvested this year’s plant today and am looking forward to the finished extract in two-day’s time.

    Thanks for sharing this post as I haven’t found another that is as informative and useful as yours.

    I was wondering how stevia extract (I am using the vodka-based recipe) tastes in coffee or tea…

  18. says

    Well isn’t this timely! I have been meaning to investigate how to prepare my stevia for storage ever since I noticed how popular it has become (as in, those squirrels and chipmunks sure do have a sweet tooth!). You’ve saved me the effort, and given me an idea. I think I’ll try making the water based extract and freezing it into little tiny stevia-ice-cubettes. Maybe with a little lemon juice…yup, sounds like a plan!

  19. Rachelle says

    I grew stevia this summer however only two plants made it. They are big and healthy. Will stevia survive if it is brought into the house for the winter? My plants are in a container so they would be easy to bring in. Thanks for your article.

    • Ani says

      Stevia survives down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night in winter greenhouse here – preferring less hours of direct sunlight in high altitude desert climate. It seems to need more water than most other plants.
      It flowers in wintertime here. I continually cut back flowering tops, dry em, and use directly in my campfire-style tea.
      Toward end of winter (which is beginning of spring in most places) they turn brown and die off above – at which time I cut off allah last yr’s mostly brown stalks and soon after that they start growing fresh new shoots from the roots.

      Ani

    • says

      Wendy – how are you accessing the site? I don’t use mobile devices, only a PC, so it’s hard for me to check what happens on those. A friend of mine said she couldn’t Pin some posts from her mobile, but could from her PC. How are you trying to book mark, and what error messages are you getting? I’m not very tech savvy, but I’ll see what I can do.

  20. Sophia Grace says

    I was thinking that stevia was a perennial. I am so glad I read this – now I know that I definitely need to harvest it this weekend.

  21. Ruth says

    I went out and bought a stevia plant this summer after reading your article on how to extract the sweetness from the leaves. Well, long story short, my plant did not survive, but for some strange reason, I didn’t throw it out. Imagine my surprise last week when spotting the dead stevia plant, I also saw a bit of greenery at the base of the dead stalk! Was it a weed or perchance, stevia? Eureka! It’s Stevia! I will now bring this tender young thing in for the winter, baby it, and maybe by next summer, try again :)

  22. billie mathias says

    Thank You so much for the info Sweety. I actually started working on my “green thumb” again this past spring. My Grandaddy was a master gardener and I have been raised around it and canning all my life (50 yrs worth). This year I tried strawbale gardening for the first time and had pretty good success all things considered. The straw bales tend to remain at a pH of 7. Would they possibly be a good choice for Stevia plants? I’ve seriously considered trying to grow stevia next spring since I hate paying for anything I can grow lol.. By the way.. EXCELLENT job on the site. :)

    • says

      I think if you could get the seedlings established outside the bale first, and then maintain adequate moisture in the bales, they’d probably be fine, but I wouldn’t try direct planting as the seeds can be a little fussy to germinate. Only one way to find out for sure with the conditions you have, but it’s a fairly inexpensive experiment.

      Thanks for the words of support!

    • says

      It will change the texture and volume of the recipe, because it doesn’t brown like sugar and you are loosing some bulk provided by sugar.

      eHow lists some substitutions:

      Stevia conversion chart:
      1 Tsp Stevia (powered)=1 Cup Sugar
      1 Tsp Stevia (liquid)=1 Cup Sugar
      1/2 Tsp Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
      6 Drops liquid Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
      A pinch of Stevia=1 Tsp sugar
      2 drops liquid stevia=1 Tsp sugar

      The bulk or consistency that sugar normally would add can be replaced with applesauce, fruit puree, canned pumpkin, fruit juice, yogurt, or any ingredient that will taste right with your recipe and add moisture. For everyone cup of sugar that is replaced by stevia 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of the bulk should be added.

      • Ann says

        I notice that the 3rd line on this chart lists “1/2 Tsp Stevia = 1 Tbsp Sugar”. I am guessing that this form of stevia is the dried leaves? I am trying to discern the difference between the powder and dried leaves… thanks…

        • says

          That’s a really good question. I went back and double-checked the e-how article that is referenced, and it doesn’t say. I suspect you are correct. I’ve only used the liquid for sweetening. I haven’t yet attempted baking substitutions with the dry leaves.

  23. says

    Tried your recipe. Very easy but didn’t find that it got thicker. I also tried it with putting some sticks of vanilla in it. I think you might have to take out the leaves at day 3 and keep the solution with the vanilla for awhile. I also did it with lemons and that has a great smell.

    Funny thing is I dried the leaves after I used them and they don’t seem as bitter when you try them. I might grind them and use them.

    If you want to keep the stevia alcohol in lieu of cooking down for longer shelf life, then how do you think you can use it. I guess it is like vanilla extract. Suggestions?

    Also, most site suggest dried leaves. I wonder if anyone here has tried both?

    • says

      Cooking the liquid is primarily to drive off the bulk of the alcohol and concentrate the sweetness. It will not produce a syrup. Straining the leaves before flavoring seems like a reasonable idea.

      I haven’t experimented with keeping the high alcohol content. If you try it, I’d be curious to hear how it works for you.

  24. Rachelle says

    Last summer I found stevia in a local green house and promtly bought seven plants. Then I came home and found your site to learn how to make stevia liquid! Been a follower ever since. Love your site and turn to it often! Just wanted to let you know that my stevia is blooming now and I am wanting to harvest the seeds. Have not harvest seeds before and was wondering when to pick them off the plants?

  25. says

    We have a farm. I have grown stevia before. It’s very easy, but it doesn’t like really cold weather. We would bring the giant pot in each year when temps dropped. Cats are REALLY attracted to it. My cat was like some type of drug junkie with the sweet leaves, so I taught the dog to guard my plant. :) I will start some new plants this year.

  26. Marilyn Myers says

    thanks so much! none of my books show how to do this. Do you also have instructions on Stevia powder? I have 4 packets of seeds I’m itching to grow

    • says

      Dried stevia leaves are better than powder, because the powder is harder to filter out. Follow the same process, using dried material instead of fresh with enough vodka to cover. If you only have powder, I’d use less powder and more vodka.

  27. GranJan says

    I was very glad to find this article. I’ve had a stevia plant in a pot on my deck for several years. It dies over the winter but comes back in the spring. We only have a few days/nights below freezing in the winter. I could never find out how to get usable sweetener from the leaves, but someone told me last year that I should steep it like tea. So I’ve steeped about 1/4 cup fresh leaves in 2 cups water that I brought to a boil then poured over the leaves. I left the leaves and water in the jar and refrigerated it after it cooled. I have only used it in my morning tea, about 1/4 cup in 2 cups of tap water which I bring to a boil then pour over tea leaves. It sounds like the water based extract made with dried leaves will produce a more concentrated sweetener. What are your thoughts on this?

    • says

      I think the water based extract should indeed produce a more concentrated sweetener that might be a little easier for people to use and store, but the simple tea sounds like a fine idea for some uses, such as sweetening other teas as you have done.

      Sorry for the slow reply. We were out of town for several days.

  28. George says

    Just bought stevia plants today. If they all live I would have eight to sixteen plants once they are divided. Since I may have so much stevia Is it possible to can the extract.

    • says

      Not that I am aware of. It would be low acid and low sugar, so would require pressure canning. I think you’d be better off to dry the leaves and make extract as needed.

    • Angie Adams says

      You can dry the stevia and use a pinch of dried stevia per cup of tea, two pinches per cup of coffee (coffee has high acid content). For coffee you can put right in with grounds when brewing by the pot.
      For tea, add to loose tea when making by cup or pot.
      I also make the extract but I let it steep for 4-6 weeks, then strain it and bottle it. The alcohol preserves it indefinitely.

      • Anne says

        Good point! I have six plants that are all very large. Every day I chop leaves ans steep them with my decaf green tea for iced tea. Sometimes it takes a LOT of leaves for a little sweetness (2 – 3 whole branches).for 2 quarts. I am so glad I found this article, specifically this note, to dry and make extract as needed. Our Excaliber just came this week! So, this will be the first thing we dry in it. Thanks for all this info!

      • Carolyn Harvey says

        Angie, (or really anybody who knows) hope you get to read this and let me know your answer. I’m curious to know if you go through the simmering process after steeping the stevia leaves in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks? Also, I read somewhere else that 100-proof vodka or rum is used to make the alcohol-based extract, but I only have found 80-proof. Does it make a difference? Thanks for any replies.

        • says

          I wouldn’t steep the stevia that long because longer steeping is supposed to bring out the bitter compounds. I have not tried it because of this. You do not have to go through the simmering process – it simply concentrates the sweetness.

          100 proof will draw out different compounds than 80 proof alcohol, but most of the discussions I have read concerning this indicate that the higher alcohol concentrations often bring out more of the bitter compounds.

  29. Lisa says

    I may have missed it here but is there a way to create a powder from fresh stevia like you buy in the store?

    • says

      That I am aware of, there is no way to create a white “sugar-alike” stevia product at home. Those sweeteners have been chemically processed, bleached and refined. To create a green stevia powder, you can dry the leaves and grind them, but that’s best used in baking or cooking. It will not dissolve in water.

  30. says

    Alcohol extracts will last indefinitely as long as the alcohol does not evaporate. Of course you more than likely would be using it up pretty quickly. The simmering is unnecessary.

  31. Nellie says

    I have used stevia for over 5 years now. I have grown a plant for 3 years, but did not know how to use
    it until I found your site. Thanks so very much for all the information.

  32. Patrick Toland says

    Great post – Thank you for the info. I bought my first Stevia plant a few months ago and now have 7-8 plants from taking a clipping and putting it in a boston market cup filled with water and miracle grow. The roots sprout in a week and I plant it in a new pot. Can’t wait to harvest the leaves and make the extract!

  33. stan says

    My first leaves are in the vodka to be strained off this evening. Do you have any idea how much of the alcohol cooks off? We have a friend who is a long term recovering alcoholic and I’d hate to ruin it with my stevia extract

  34. Saralyn says

    I bought a Stevia plant in June. I planted it with some flowering plants in a round clay planter. It made a beautiful green background with my flowers. I just made my first water based extract today from dried leaves. Can’t wait to try it in my coffee tomorrow! I am in south Georgia and we have had plenty of rain, so it has really grown.

  35. brittany says

    Great article!! And easy to follow instructions. I made my first batch of alcohol based extract with fresh leaves yesterday. This is the second time I’ve grown stevia and I was determined not to lose my plant this year before I figured out what to do with it. It came out great!! No bitterness at all! I’m going to make another batch with some lemon infused vodka I made a while back and use it for iced tea. I shared this link with my recipe group since I know a few of them asked about it when I mentioned I was thinking about trying it.

  36. Laura says

    I have left my stevia leaves in the alcohol but they never became pale like yours do. Do I need to leave them in longer? Other sources show leaving jars in the dark for weeks before cooking off the alcohol. So, I’m just a bit confused. Our Nectarines are ripening and we are hoping to use Stevia extract instead of sugar for the canning process! Thanks

    • says

      I’ve only steeped mine for the time range shown in the post. It’s my understanding that longer steeping may draw out more of the bitter compounds, but I have not tried it. As for the coloration, there may be slight variations in the plants themselves and/or the light exposure in the photo. I wouldn’t be concerned about the color variations.

      BTW, as a side note on sugar free canning, sugar does help preserve the color and texture of the fruits by binding some of the free water in the fruit. Sugar substitutes do not have a similar binding effect, so fruits are likely to darken and get mushy more quickly than if some sugar or honey was used in the preserving process. The Natural Canning Resource Book is a great reference for canning without sugar and using sugar substitutes.

  37. Sandy says

    This is perfect in didn’t know I could bring it in and replant. So excited to try this!
    Thank you for the start to end information most site don’t start with seeds.

    • says

      The plants in these photos are still going strong for the third summer (I think it’s been three). When they get to leggy or start dying back, I clip them down to nubbins and start all over again.

  38. says

    Hello! I just found this website for the first time, and your time and attention to this information source is absolutely great. If you don’t know something for a fact, you do not try to b.s. yourself and act as if you did know everything! This is such a refreshing approach, and I admire you for your honesty, As for the stevia, I am determined to harvest more this fall, and maybe this time, I won’t kill the plant with kindness.
    Thank you very much indeed.
    Marisa Robertson

    • says

      It’s pretty much impossible for one person to know everything and anyone who pretends otherwise is just full of hot air. I do have a well trained google and a substantial reference library, so that helps. If it’s of any use, I’d like to note that I’ve cut my plant back to nubbins three times now since it’s been potted, and each time it has regrown into a full, bushy plant, so don’t give up on it even it if appears dead.

  39. Yolanda says

    Hello, I just made this just like how you made it and it kind of taste like grassy. Have you had this problem? I let it simmer for 25 minutes. I added vanilla powder to mask the taste but have not tried it in my coffee yet.

    Thanks,

    Yolanda

  40. sam says

    Thank you for the info. I live in a northern climate and now that I can bring them in I will. My plants are starting to go to seed. can i use these seeds to grow more plants then cut back and start plant over again? Thanks for your help.

    • says

      If they cross pollinate, you may have viable seed, but stevia seeds are notorious for not sprouting. It’s worth a try if you like, as you have nothing to lose. I have cut mine back to the ground for several years now (when I brought them in for the winter) and they grown back each time.

  41. RUDY says

    I READ ABOUT HARVESTING WHEN THEY FLOWERED. WELL THEY DIDN’T FLOWER . WENT OUT TODAY AND THE WHOLE PLANT WAS BROWN LEAFS.WE HAD FROST THE LAST FEW DAYS. I GUESS THEY DON’T LIKE FROST. PLANT DID GOOD THROUGH SUMMER. SHOULD I TRIM IT SHORT AND CAN I MAKE ANY HARVEST OUT OF IT. THANKS FOR ANY HELP ON THIS . RUDY

    • says

      Stevia are heat loving and do not tolerate frost. Frost killed leaves will not make a good extract. If you can move the plant inside, do so, and trim it back to the ground. If it’s not completely dead, it will resprout from the roots. You can harvest once it gets enough good sized leaves – no need to wait for it to bloom.

  42. says

    I live in NC and have 4 stevia plants myself. i bought them to get started. I haven’t had any luck with seeds germinating. Besides, my 4 plants give me enough leaves that I usually have some left from harvest to harvest. I make the alcohol based liquid stevia and find that 1 tsp will sweeten my glass of iced tea or cup of coffee nicely. I haven’t tried it with baking.
    I dehydrated and stored my leaves in glass jars. If I make a quart of iced tea, I add 2 or 3 dried leaves and allow to steep overnight in the tea. The longer it steeps, the sweeter it tastes. I can do this per glass also.
    I have ground some leaves to powder but it doesn’t dissolve at all.
    As far as my plants, at the end of the season, I cut back my plants about 3 inches from the ground. I have them in a raised bed. The first year, I covered them in plastic, but the 3rd and 4th year and this year, I just covered them with leaves. Up until this point, I haven’t had a problem with them growing.

  43. Oscar says

    Hi this is great thanks! I just wanted to ask if you knew how long the Stevia water based extract lasts (in refrigerator) and why does it have to sit for two weeks?

  44. Mike says

    Hi Laurie. Like they all said ‘Great post’. I am a type 2 diabetic with a sweet tooth, and am certainly interested in a sugar substitute. I have just bought my first Stevia fluid in a 50ml bottle and feel sure that at €9, it’s more expensive than French perfume. As a pensioner it feels a bit hard on the pocket so I turned to the internet because I was sure you were out there somewhere, and bless you there you were. My question is, as I live in a sunny climate (Tenerife) where we never experience frost and the winters are very mild (around 12- 18 deg. c.) do you think I could just leave the plants outside all year and keep harvesting them? As the plants originated in South America my feeling is I could, but I just wondered if you were from California or Florida I could be wrong. I apologise if this point has already been raised. I read up to fifty posts and gave up looking and decided to ask.
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • says

      If you don’t freeze in winter in the winter you should be good to go. Even here, I just bring mine inside in a pot for winter and put them back outside after risk of frost has passed. If your plants start to look to leggy or rough, you can clip them back to the ground and they should regrow more bushy. Feed them some compost or other natural fertilizer once a year or so.

  45. Linda says

    hello I have been looking into making my own Stevia but still a little confused. The Extract is that liquid? how do i use it to put into my coffee.. lol (sorry might be a silly question). So basically I use the leaves dried or fresh and add them to boiling water and then just let them seep for 40 mins. Once i drain it, I place the water into something and place in the fridge? Thank you for your help.. Just want to get it right the first time.. hehe :)

    • says

      Yes, the extract is a liquid. When you make the stevia extract with just water, it’s sort of like a strong “tea” of the stevia leaves, which you add to your main beverage to taste. Like any herbal tea, it has a limited shelf life, so do store any that you don’t use right away in the refrigerator and use within a week.

  46. gardener88 says

    THis was great information! Like many others I’ve grown stevia for a few years now and the first year didn’t know what to do with it or how to use it.
    I live in Ohio. I’ve had 3 plants sprout from seed out of many. I got 2 the first year and 1 the next. THe first year I expected to have to re-sprout new seeds the next spring since it is a warm weather plant, but we had a mild winter and IN THE GROUND they overwintered and came back the next spring! I was so excited!
    So last winter and this, I’ve covered the plants in the ground with a thick layer of straw. Last winter was mild here also, so this year will be a better test. I do have them planted against a brick wall that is south facing, so if there’s sun, it gets full sun most of the day. Another experiment I tried this summer was to divide the oldest plant in half to see if I can create 2 plants from the one. The smaller one that I dug off wasn’t doing well so we’ll see if it can come back in the spring. I have had success from dividing other perennial plants in the past so I thought it was worth trying. We shall see.

    I have dried stevia that I already ground into powder, so I’ll have to try the extract that way until next summer. I did try making a tea, but let it sit too long and it got VERY bitter and I had to throw it away. I’ve also tried putting some in the top of the coffee maker with my tea bags for making iced tea. One time it turned out great and the other time, not so great. But I wasn’t sure how much to put in.
    THanks again! It’s so nice to be able to learn from others’ experiments!

  47. Xavier says

    Hi Laurie. Thanks for the great article. I will try it tomorrow. Then I will report how it has worked for me. At the moment I use a very pure powder (Reb-A> 97%). I think especially for tea homemade Stevia Extract is perfect.

  48. Melissa Aldana says

    When you use vodka to make the stevia extract, is it still considered a calorie free or low calorie sweetener? How much of the calories from the vodka remain in the final product?

    • says

      I’m not certain how many calories remain (I’ve never been a calorie counter), but you only use a very small amount for sweetening – a few drops. Given the tiny volume used, it must count as a low calorie sweetener.

  49. says

    My husband just asked me what I was going to do with the huge plant out back in our yard. Now, we know what to do with the stevia plant.

    I’ve have the drying the leaves under control as I already dry, leeks, green onion, chives, chili peppers, garlic, various basil, (globe is my favorite), sage, peppermint, catnip, parsley, etc. Mmmm, delicious!

    Thanks so much for the information and your knowledge; it is appreciated.

  50. nicole says

    I’ve worked to your instruction, with fresh leaves; it just tasted nice and sweet. However, putting it into the coffee, gives a strong bitterness to the drink; have tried everything from dried/powdered/fresh/water-solution/vodka-based, leafes but nothing seems to work; either it tastes too ”planty” or it increases a bitterness – especially in coffee.

    Any idea how to vercome this bitterness? Your advice would be appreciated, since I have 3 large stevia plants growing here in Spain, and would love to use them.
    Thanks

  51. Melanie says

    Thank you for this post, I am just starting into using Stevia and am excited for the adventures ahead. Sorry for what may be a dumb question, but I do not drink alcohol and so I have no idea where or how to buy the vodka you use in your extract recipe. Can you please let me know how to know what to buy, where to get it, and perhaps an estimate of what I should be paying for it.
    Additionally, since the vodka would only be used to make extracts, how long will it keep?
    Thanks

    • says

      Vodka in a glass bottle will keep indefinitely. Remember, alcohol is a preservative. You can also buy fairly small bottles. I just buy larger ones because it’s cheaper per ounce and I use it for extracts and tinctures, and it keeps forever. Many grocery stores (at least in our area) have a liquor department. Otherwise just check the yellow pages or google “liquor store”, or asks friends who do imbibe where they recommend shopping.

  52. says

    I’m so excited to see how this turns out. The leaves have been in the jar for 24 hours so far. I just went and bought 4 baby stevia plants for about $2 each. I took all the leaves off and got started. I’ve run out of stevia and I refuse to pay $8/box of “organic” stevia that really isn’t organic or resembles stevia. Fingers crossed this is a permanent replacement.

      • RITA says

        I have been growing stevia for the past two years in a pot. last year I just cut the plant back to about 6 in of
        the root. It came back really nice this year. I live in BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA the winters can get very cold but not always i just bring the plant in for the winter.

        I have tried both drying and freezing the leaves I did not like the outcome. thanks for the info on the liquid
        process. I am diffidently going to try both.
        RITA

  53. bill says

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge on stevia. I really appreciate that you explaned how to use it once harvested. Can you tell me if stevia has any salt tolerance? I live on the coast of florida. I am definately showing my uncle your site, he has diabetes. Thnx bill

  54. Patricia Thompson says

    Thank you for this wonder article. I am just learning about growing stevia and am interested to harvest and use it as stevia is the only sugar I use currently for myself.

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