Learn to Grow, Make, and Use DIY Stevia Sweetener

Learn to Grow, Make, and Use DIY Stevia Sweetener

How to Use Stevia

Learn how to use stevia as a sugar substitute. Grow it, harvest it, use it, love it!

I’ve just come in from working in my garden. As I was trimming, pulling weeds and watering, I finally got to my stevia tree! I have several, but this one is about 8 feet tall! What am I going to do with all that? Lots…let me tell you!

What is Stevia?

Stevia, or stevia rebaudiana, is a tropical to semi-tropical plant that is from South America. Although fairly new to us here in the US, it has actually been used for over 1,500 years as a sweetener. You can get seeds for it, but it is just as easy to get starts from many local garden centers. I even saw it at Walmart and Lowe’s this spring!

In tropical areas it is considered a perennial, often growing a thick woody stem much like a tree trunk. In more temperate regions, such as here in Western North Carolina, it is an annual. Because it contains no calories or carbohydrates, stevia is a great alternative to sugar.

If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a surprise: stevia can be up to 150 times sweeter than sugar! Most stevia extracts on the market are closer to 10 times what sugar holds, but it can be more. Stevia is non-flammable and non-fermentable, making it very shelf stable. It does have a slightly bitter aftertaste, so using it in small amounts is recommended.

How to Use Stevia

Learning how to use stevia is important, because sometimes it can be used like any other sweetener, other times not so much.

You can use it to sweeten tea, coffee, lemonade, or flavored water. But using in place of sugar for baking is not encouraged, since the chemical and physical structure are different. Jelly is another example of where stevia doesn’t work like sugar.

A good rule of thumb: use it to sweeten things in which sugar is not a part of the structure. For example, it wouldn’t work in baking a cake since the grains of sugar are partly what holds up the cake. But in ice cream, where the structure isn’t important, it can be added as sweetener.

There are some stevia/sugar blends available that can be used like regular sugar. (You can find a good blend here.)

Growing Stevia

Learning how to use stevia is not always simple. But growing stevia is simple… very simple!

Plant it, water it, put it in the sun, and trim it occasionally. That’s really all there is to it.

Stevia isn’t picky. I’ve grown it in plain dirt, enriched soil, and the clay that is prevalent in my area. It doesn’t like the clay as much, so I moved it to a mixed soil with mushroom compost mixed in. Now I need to chop the “tree” down!

Water is important. I’ve let mine dry out, but if it dries out too much it won’t come back from it. You can try bringing it in for the winter, but most homes are too dry and it dies after a few months.

Preserving your Stevia Harvest

There are several ways you can preserve stevia for using during the winter months.

  • Drying
  • Freezing
  • Extract-alcohol
  • Extract-glycerin
  • Extract to dried powder

Drying Stevia

To dry stevia, remove the leaves and flowers from the stems. Don’t throw the stems away, we’ll be using them in a minute. Dry as you would any other herb: with a dehydrator, oven, or on trays in a warm spot.

When they are thoroughly dry, place them in a jar and seal tightly. Watch for mold, just in case, but don’t make the mistake I did my first year. I dried some and put it in a jar. A few months later, I noticed a white substance on the leaves. Thinking it was mold, I threw it out. Later I realized that the white stuff I saw was exactly what I wanted – dried stevia juice! If you see it, keep it!

To use, place a few dried leaves in a tea bag with your regular tea blend, add to the coffee filter, or use like a seasoning in sweet dishes.

Freezing Stevia

To freeze stevia, chop into small bits and place a teaspoon or so in an ice cube tray. Cover with distilled water. Freeze.

When frozen, transfer to a freezer container. These will keep until you get a new plant in the spring.

To use, just pull out an ice cube and add to your water, tea, coffee, etc. You may find it to be too sweet, like I did. You can cut the amount of leaves back to ½ teaspoon or whatever suits your needs.

Making Stevia Extract with Alcohol

To make an extract, prepare as you would for any tincture.

Chop enough plant material to fill a pint jar ½ full. This is where you can use the stems from above. Cover with alcohol. I use a plain 40% vodka since there is no odor, taste, or color. Cap tightly and shake well.

Place in the sun for a few weeks. Shake daily if you can. After a few weeks, taste a drop or so – it should be super sweet. If not, leave it a bit longer. Strain and keep in a dark place.

To use, use a teaspoon or so in recipes that call for any other extract.

Making Stevia Extract with Glycerin

To make a glycerin extract, prepare as you would an alcohol extract (above), except use liquid vegetable glycerin instead. After straining, I place some in a small dropper bottle. Just a few drops in my iced tea and it tastes just like southern sweet tea, without all the calories!

Making Stevia Powder

Simmer some stevia on the stove for a half hour to an hour. The more plant material you have, the stronger it will be. Strain and cool.

When it has cooled, place the liquid in a glass baking dish. Leave in a warm place for the liquid to evaporate. On top of the refrigerator is a good location. Alternatively, you can put the simmered stevia directly into your glass baking dish, then slide this into a very slow oven, like 170°F for a few hours.

What you have left is the pure stevia powder that you buy in the store, except that yours is all natural. Many commercially prepared stevia powders will contain other things like anti-caking agents or malic acid. Yours will be the real thing!

Stevia is a natural alternative to sugar, so if you’re trying to cut sugar, learning how to use stevia can make life easier.

Don’t want to grow/make your own?

If you’d like to purchase a natural stevia that hasn’t been overly-processed, and/or adulterated with fillers, chemicals, or other ingredients, here are some options:

Have you tried stevia yet? Have you ever grown/made your own? Tell us about it!

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Debra Maslowski

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Connect with Debra Maslowski on G+.

Learn to Grow, Make, and Use DIY Stevia Sweetener was written by Debra Maslowski.

SEPTEMBER MADNESS – PRICES SLASHED ON MORINGA PRODUCTS TO CLEAR

SEPTEMBER MADNESS – PRICES SLASHED ON MORINGA PRODUCTS TO CLEAR

Moringa Tea Bags were £6.99,  now £3.99

Moringa Leaf Powder was £12.99 now £6.99

Moringa anti aging handmade luxury soap was £6.99 – now £3.99

Moringa Oil – was £14.99, now £7.99

Moringa oliefera is a fast growing tree, found mainly in tropical and subtropical areas. However, our suppliers , have managed to grow it successfully in a micro climate region in Spain.  The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of  B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A as betacarotene, vitamin K, manganese, and protein, among other essential nutrients. Moringa leaves contain 18 types of amino-acids, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatory compounds, and more than 90 nutrients, making it one of the best nutritional supplements ever. Moringa is a total powerhouse of goodness. It is an excellent source of minerals like iron and calcium, and of vitamins A, B, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E as well as macrominerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients.

The following  shows the %RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) provided by 30 grams of Moringa leaf powder:

  • Calcium 601 mg 60%
  • Magnesium 110.4 mg 37 %
  • Iron 8.46 mg 84 %
  • Copper 0.171 mg 19 %
  • Potassium 397.2 mg 11.3 %
  • Phosphorus 61.2 mg 9 %
  • Vitamin A 4.89 mg 163 %
  • Vitamin B1 0.792 mg 52.8%
  • Vitamin B2 6.15 mg 361 %
  • Vitamin B3 2.46 mg 13 %
  • Vitamin C 5.19 mg 8.6 %
  • Vitamin E 33.9 mg 226 %
  • Protein 8.1 grams 12.8 %

BENEFITS OF MORINGA

Here are just some of the fantastic benefits that this plant provides:

*Rapid improvemteatimeents in energy, stamina, and endurance

*Better mental clarity

*Lowers blood sugar levels for diabetics

*Lowers blood pressure when taken regularly

*Lowers cholesterol

*Balances your hormones

*Boosts your immune system*Detoxifies your body

*Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitical properties

*Relieves constipation

*Serves as a diuretic

*Relieves skin problems

*Impromoringa-drinkves eyesight

*Assists with sleep

*Supports hair health and growth

*Heals cuts and wounds

*Helps treat depression

*Treats minor infections

*Improves appearance of skin

Moringa seeds also purify dirty water! If this plant can clean water, it can purify your body too…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW IN TODAY – Mooncups & Natracare!

NEW IN TODAY – Mooncups & Natracare!

The Green Lady would like to offer our lady customers as many options as you need without dedicating the whole shop to Sanitary protection!  To start off then we have two options for you both of which are eco friendly and healthier options. If you require other eco varieties do let us know and we will endeavour to stock the most popular, so long as we can still get in the door!

 

The Sustainable Choice

Natracare products are made from renewable, natural materials including organic cotton, bioplastics (made from plant starch) and wood pulp.
Ethical, environmental and animal-friendly, Natracare products are biodegradable – and can even be composted!

A Period Without the Drama

Mooncup® is the original, soft, medical-grade silicone menstrual cup designed by women as the convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads. 

 

Tried and trusted since 2002 by users around the world, the Mooncup menstrual cup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.

The healthier and convenient alternative to tampons and pads which saves you money too. Made to last for years, the Mooncup menstrual cup is an easy way to dramatically reduce the waste you produce. There are two sizes:

Size A Recommended for those who are 30 and over, and all who have given birth vaginally regardless of age. Size B Recommended for those under the age of 30 who have not given birth vaginally.

 

 

 

 

 

Pain Relieving Massage Oil for Menstrual Cramps – by Katie Vance

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

For many women, including myself, painful menstrual cramps are a monthly reality.

Sometimes the pain just won’t go away no matter what I try. I’ve tried drinking more water, over-the-counter medications, changing my diet, exercising, and still no relief.

Before having children, I could take it easy on the worst days. Now that is impossible! We are always on the go and I am always on my feet. I need relief… pronto!

I’ve also struggled with hormone imbalances since having my children. That can make each month an emotional roller coaster with the full spectrum of PMS symptoms.

Painful cramps, emotional stress, and overwhelming fatigue make me one scary mama.

That is why I turned to the experts. Believe it or not, there is a lot of research on aromatherapy massage and dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps). Quite a few researchers have conducted studies on the use of essential oils for menstrual cramps and cycles.

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

One study used lavender (Lavandula officinalis), clary sage (Salvia sclarea), and marjoram (Origanum majorana) essential oils for menstrual cramps. Participants massaged a 3% cream on their lower abdomen starting at the end of the last menstruation continuing to the beginning of the next menstruation. Results show a significant decrease in pain. I’m not sure why this study was conducted from the end of menstruation to the beginning, but I suspect it is because the recipe includes clary sage essential oil. While some women report that clary sage essential oil can bring on a heavy menstrual cycle, there is really little to no evidence to support this claim.

Another study used a similar method with lavender, clary sage, and rose essential oils for menstrual cramps and menstruation. This study also found aromatherapy massage to be effective.

One more study used inhalation of lavender essential oil. This study found that smelling lavender essential oil can help reduce pain associated with menstrual cramps.

After reading all of these studies, it was time to put them to the test. For the past three months, I have been using the following roll-on blend and have noticed significant improvements in the severity of my PMS symptoms. I won’t call it a miracle cure because I certainly do experience some symptoms, but I have noticed that they are less intense.

Note: Of course, before using any natural remedy, you should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner. If you are experiencing difficult menstrual cycles, first consult your OB/GYN to make sure there isn’t a more serious underlying condition.

DIY Pain-Relieving Massage Oil for Menstrual Cramps

Ingredients

  • 3 drops clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender (lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
  • 1 drop geranium (Pelargonium x asperum) essential oil
  • 10 mL avocado oil
  • 1 – 10mL roller bottle

Instructions

  1. Add essential oils to roller bottle.
  2. Fill the rest of the way with avocado oil and secure cap.  Shake well to blend.
  3. Roll (or massage) on abdomen one time daily during menstrual cycle. (I generally start 1-2 days before my cycle or whenever I start to feel cramps).

Notes & Substitutions

This recipe is at a 3% dilution ratio because it is meant to be used for a short period of time. Up to 7 days maximum.

Another essential oil that could be substituted into this recipe is rose absolute essential oil. While it is very expensive, rose absolute works wonders for those going through menopause or who have significant mood swings.

This recipe can be used in a roller bottle or as a massage oil, but the essential oil part (clary sage, lavender, and geranium) also make a wonderful diffuser blend. Simply add the essential oils to your diffuser and enjoy for 15-30 minutes. Enjoy some quiet time, prayer time, or meditation while the oils diffuse.

For Your Aromatherapy Oils go to The Green Lady Eco Store www:thegreenladyecostore.co.uk

Katie Vance

  • About Katie Vance

Katie is a wife, mother, blogger, aromatherapist, soapmaker, and lover of all things DIY. She blogs at The Wise Wife. You can also find Katie on Google+.

Pain Relieving Massage Oil for Menstrual Cramps was written by Katie Vance.

NEW Moringa Tea Bags!

MORINGA TEA BAGS! To add to our wonderful range of Moringa products you can now buy Moringa Tea Bags.  They contain all the benefits of Moringa leaves, and when you’re done drinking the tea you can put the leaves into your cooking for double the goodness. They come wrapped in foil for freshness.

Ingredients: Organically grown moringa oleifera leaves, air dried

No artificial flavourings

No preservatives

Caffiene free

The Moringa oleifera tree makes an excellent nutritious energy drink. The tea is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that will help clear your mind and boost energy levels.

To make the tea, place one teabag in a cup and pour hot water (not boiling) over them. Allow to steep for several minutes. Add a little stevia or honey to sweeten if required. Every cup of tea you drink will provide you with vital nutrients. Moringa tea is considered to be an excellent defence against damaging free radical damage to your cells.

Pack Size: 25 Bags

NEW to The Green Lady – EARTH CONSCIOUS vegan deodorants!


 

 

The Green Lady is very pleased to announce that we now stock these award winning natural deodorants from Earth Conscious.

Earth Conscious is a transparent UK brand. They believe in making conscious choices about the way that we live rather than always accepting the status quo. Hence their natural deodorant. Earth and body friendly, yet still functions in a modern world. A mini revolution.

They are not eco warriors, just normal(ish) people (like me) trying their best to take responsibility for their actions.  Manufactured in the UK, using eco friendly packaging and top quality certified ingredients that cause no harm, and available to all with their low price, this is very important to them.

Their products make as minimal impact on the earth as possible. The ingredients used are of course completely natural (no lab made ingredients posing as “natural”!), certified organic where sourceable to ensure that once they are washed off the skin they will provide no threat to wildlife, marine life or plants.

Make the healthier choice, join us by switching one thing today, a better choice for the earth. If we all do this together we can make a difference in our small steps.

 
 

 

 

FARM GROWN SUPERFOOD MORINGA NOW AVAILABLE HERE

moringa-powderThe following is a comprehensive guide outlining the benefits of  The Green Lady’s  Moringa, plus uses, recipes etc.

baby-tree

 

 

Moringa oliefera is a fast growing tree, found mainly in tropical and subtropical areas. However, my suppliers, Wikaniko, have managed to grow it successfully in a micro climate region in Spain.

 

 

 

HOW THE MORINGA IS PRODUCED

Note: The seeds that the plants were grown from were organic seeds. Any further planting will be made by cuttings from the mother plants to ensure good quality Moringa. The Green Lady’s Moringa is organically grown, i.e., grown without pesticides or herbicides, and the whole process from planting to products is personally supervised by the company owners. Read more

URGENT UPDATE RE MEDICINAL CANNABIS OIL – ORDERS CAN STILL BE TAKEN DIRECT TO ME UNTIL 1ST NOVEMBER 2016 WHILE STOCKS LAST

 

We have recently learned that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started issuing letters to CBD suppliers advising them that CBD is being designated as a medicine and that sale of CBD products must stop within 28 days.cannabis-oil

This will be alarming news to many people.  However, it is a complex situation which has some positive aspects to it.  In the short term, if you are already using CBD products, you would be well advised to stock up as much as you can afford.

CLEAR (Cannabis Law Reform) has been aware of this possibility for several weeks and consequently they have been working with leading CBD suppliers and licensed producers of both low and high THC cannabis on establishing the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA).  They are already in correspondence with the MHRA seeking to represent all stakeholders, to establish a consultation process on regulating CBD products and to protect the interests of producers, suppliers and consumers.

What these MHRA letters mean is that for CBD to be sold in future, suppliers will have to obtain either a ‘marketing authorisation’ or a ‘traditional herbal registration’ from the MHRA.

A marketing authorisation can be fantastically expensive, requiring an initial application fee of £103,000 and full scale clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.

A traditional herbal registration is not as expensive, around £6,000 but relies on the product having been “traditionally used to treat the stated condition for a minimum of 30 years, 15 years of which must have been in the European Union (EU).”  It also requires “scientific evidence relating to the safety, quality and traditional use of the herbal product”. It is far from certain that CBD will qualify for this scheme and in any event registration is only granted if the medicine is used for minor health conditions where medical supervision is not required.

CBD is not a ‘controlled drug’ and is not prohibited but most CBD products are in fact low-THC, whole plant extracts derived from industrial hemp, legally grown under licence.  So yes, they are a legal form of cannabis and, of course, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, cannabis has ‘no medicinal value’.  So, you may well ask, how can the MHRA classify it as a medicine?                      MHRA Headquarters

This is just the first of many complications for the MHRA, the Home Office and the government. Potentially, it could be very positive as it could make the government acknowledge the medicinal value of cannabis and, in effect, force the beginning of cannabis regulation.

The path ahead is uncertain. The UKCTA (UK Cannabis Trade Association) is pressing for an urgent meeting with the MHRA. Apart from the advice to consumers to stock up, these will be very worrying times for CBD suppliers and their employees. Another factor is that GW Pharmaceuticals is very close to applying for FDA approval in the USA and an MHRA marketing authorisation for its CBD epilepsy medicine, Epidiolex.

CLEAR, the UKCTA and leading CBD companies are working together to clarify and progress this situation.  We will keep you closely informed of developments.

 

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