Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo Hunt: Stevia rebaudiana: Sweet Leaf Plant

My friend told me about this plant Stevia which is used a a sugar substitute. I have not tried using my plant, and it looks like a beautiful pot plant. The girl at the garden centre told me I have to bring it indoors in winter. She also tells me by adding a few leaves in my cup of tea will sweeten my tea. As a scary cat, I have not tried it yet. My plant I bought in New Zealand looks different from Wikipeadia. Supersized stevia! This is undoubtedly the most robust variety of stevia that we have ever seen. The whole plant has a sturdy upright look with strong thick stems and monstrous leaves that can exceed 10cm/4" long and 5cm/2" across. Even when grown in pots the plants reach heights of 90cm/36" or more. Taste is similar to regular stevia. "You can't believe how sweet this plant is! Stevia leaves are 10 times sweeter than sugar, but have almost no calories and lack the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. Refined Stevia has been available for years at health stores as an all-natural alternative to sugar. Now is your chance to grow the plant at home. Plants grow to 3' tall and are only hardy to zone 10. In the winter, bring it indoors and use it as a house plant" http://www.directgardening.com/detail.asp?ProductID=1540 http://www.stevia-stevioside.com/stevia_rebaudiana_bertoni.php


Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana

The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
Stevia, which is also known as 'sweet herb' is a native plant of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.  The Gaurani Indians of Paraguay have been using stevia to sweeten drinks such as Mate for hundreds of years.  
The Japanese have been growing  stevia in hot houses since the early 1950's  and in the late 1960's when the government banned certain artificial sweeteners its use increased dramatically. In Japan stevia is used to sweeten pickles, meats and fish, soy sauce, fruit juice, soft drinks, yoghurt, deserts and low calorie foods. 
Stevia leaves are used as a calorie free sugar substitute in food and drinks. Two or three leaves of stevia is enough to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee. Dried powdered leaves are 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar, 2 tablespoons of stevia can replace 1 cup of sugar. To make a liquid extract combine 1cup of warm water with ½ cup of mashed fresh leaves in a jar with a lid and let stand for 24hrs. Strain and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Stevia does not brown or crystallize like sugar so cannot be used in recipes such as meringues. 
Stevia doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics. It is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

Growing Conditions

Stevia is a perennial growing up to a metre tall, likes full sun and prefers an acid soil. It flowers late summer to early autumn, it should be harvested as it begins to flower as this is when the stevioside content (the compound which gives stevia its sweetness) is at its highest. 
Thursday Challenge is a place for photographic fun and learning. GOOD (Anything you think is good...) I have to qualify this. If this Stevia is as good as it is, then it is good. However, I am not sure. I don't even dare to try it for myself. So my plant remains a beautiful pot plant. http://www.spunwithtears.com/thursday.html

1 comment:

Carver said...

Interesting post and a beautiful plant.