Today, I wrote an article for Not Dabbling in Normal about the benefits of growing stevia, a plant that naturally produces very sweet leaves.  One can chew on the leaves and get a pretty good rush of sweet, but it’s not terribly convenient or attractive to grind up leaves when cooking.

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I decided to make a stevia extract which is a liquid into which the sweetness of the stevia leaves has been concentrated.  I saw a variety of articles and recipes on how to make stevia extract, but two in particular caught my attention.  Each required a liquid to make the extract.  One used water, the other used vodka.  I decided to try both varieties and see which I liked better.

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I am not much of a drinker.  In fact, I am pretty much not a drinker at all except for the occasional medicinal shot of brandy when I have a sore throat.  Aside from that, I don’t know the difference between varieties of alcohol.  I walked into the local drug store and headed for the liquor aisle where a huge array of vodkas greeted me.  I didn’t know one brand from another so I decided the surest way to pick a good vodka must be by the aesthetics of the label.  I looked and looked and debated, but I finally settled on Gordon’s vodka.  See?  Doesn’t it just look pretty.  The simple light blue label just seemed pleasant to me…it must be good stuff.

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So I got the vodka and headed home.  To make both the vodka and the water-based extracts, I coarsely cut stevia leaves until I had 2 cups for each recipe.  I don’t really know what a coarse cutting is, so I decided to use coarse language as I sliced the leaves into chunks.  I can’t really see how it will help make things sweeter, but if the recipe calls for cussing, I figured I better oblige (actually, I called in Emily…she’s the pro).

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(Research…purely for research)

So, into a mason jar I added 2 cups of leaves and one cup of my liquid – vodka in one jar, water in another.  I covered each and will let it stand for 24 hours gently shaking the jars a few times during that period.  I started the brew last night and the liquid has turned green by this morning.  The vodka-based extract is greener so I suppose it has drawn more of the essence of the stevia out.  At the end of the soaking period, I will filter each through a coffee filter and then simmer the extract over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to concentrate the extract and remove the alcohol.  It’s best to store the liquid in a jar in the refrigerator for future use.

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Everywhere I have read says that I will need to dilute the extract with water before using in a recipe.  I suppose the sweetness of the mix is very powerful.  I’ll know more about that soon!  We’ll use these extracts in cooking and I’ll report back later.

So, what do you think?  Have you heard of or used stevia (or truvia, the store variety)?  Did I buy a descent variety of vodka?

18 thoughts on “Vodka…sweet!

  1. I have never heard of stevia. I am not the one to ask about vodka either. I guess I can’t provide much help on either of these topics. I have to say that this sounds interesting. Well, back to my VB code.

  2. How close the floor was the vodka? The closer to the floor, the worse the quality.

    How much did you spend? Less than $10 for a fifth = swill. $15-20 is acceptable/good. $20-30 is very good. $30+ is top notch.

  3. Gordon’s is perfect for extracts, cheap! We have some fine habanero vodka made with Caldwell’s but the label isn’t as pretty. They are also good for making herbal aftershave.
    I used to add stevia to a bitter medicinal tea that I prepared for my mother and mother-in-law when the digestion required encouragement. It’s available dried at a local herb shop. I think, in the absence of extract, you might be able to steep it in whatever liquid is going in your recipe but the quantity would need experimentation.

  4. I have definitely heard of stevia, as I am in eating raw foods, which doesn’t allow for sugar. Once again, you amaze us with your energy and skill. I’ve never seen photos of stevia, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by them in your most recent post. Keep it up!
    .-= Laura-Jane´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving from Whimfield =-.

  5. Nice, throw poor Emily under the bus!!!

    I know less than you about the vodka,but I approve of your choice. My third car was named Gordon, and I tend to pick things randomly like that. But I have used stevia packets (nasty aftertaste) and Truvia (MUCH better).
    I will stick with Splenda until they sell it in bulk at Sam’s for a reasonable price.

    You would have been a good pioneer!
    .-= Capri Kel´s last blog ..Put A Ring On It! =-.

  6. Kent – I wonder if I could make my own…interesting…

    Diane – I was hoping that cheap would be ok for extracts, esp since I planned to cook off the alcohol anyhow. I will have to try making others…it’s a cool idea!

    Carla – We eat so much of it right off the plants here at the office…I love it!

    Laura-Jane – thanks! I like monkeying with stuff and stevia seemed weird enough to suit my personality…

    Capri Kel – You are right…unfortunately, I think I have expanded Emily’s vocabulary more than she has expanded mine…same with purchasing alcohol. I have bought a handful of things, but I suppose she has never bought a drop…I am such a creep!

  7. I’ve never tried to make sweetener from stevia, Warren, but I’m very surious about your results. Please let us know how it came out. I have made vanilla extract using both vodka and bourbon. I have to say I like the vodka version better because the bourbon seemed to overpower the vanilla flavor. The longer it has steeped, though, the less the bourbon flavor comes through. Depending on the recipe, the bourbon can actually add a good flavor to the mix.

  8. I don’t really know what a coarse cutting is, so I decided to use coarse language as I sliced the leaves into chunks.

    Bahahahaha! My kind of cooking! I hate to admit I don’t even know what stevia is. I wish I could say the same for Vodka. Me and vodka met once when I was much younger, we didn’t get along to well… so I’ll leave the vodka work up to you (unless you’ll help me get off the bathroom floor).

  9. Because of the way you exracted it, you might have an afertaste.

    Truvia is not the only store variety, there are many stevia brands on the market. I use SweetLeaf Sweetener Stevia (the first brand). It’s the only brand that uses only pure water during extraction, so there is no aftertaste, in packets or liquid. Other brands use chemicals and alcohols during extraction, which cause an aftertaste. Some of these brands are now masking the aftertaste by adding other things in it.

  10. Granny – I’ll post again with results…meanwhile, my next project is vanilla…with the rest of that vodka. I am excited for that as well!

    Kim – yes, you can use it in liquid form though it doesn’t take much stevia to sweeten. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

    Debbie – my experience with vodka is limited though I am familiar with the bathroom floor experience…anyhow, this is a much better use I think!

    yoda – I’ve not seen the other brands…I’ll definitely have a look! I haven’t noticed the after taste but I’ll see how it goes with this batch

  11. Beau – I took that pic in Canaan Valley near Spruce Knob. It has an incredible tundra -like appearance…beautiful place if you ever get the urge to travel

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