Healthy Homegrown Sweetener: How To Make Liquid Stevia Extract

September 9th, 2015 - filed under: The Food » Recipes

homemade liquid stevia

One of my very favorite hobbies is the taking of beloved store-bought items, and finding a way to replicate them at home with healthy, wholesome ingredients. The benefit here is threefold: firstly, I save money — often paying pennies on the dollar for the DIY supplies. Secondly, it’s always more environmentally friendly, with less packaging and plastic, less shipping of products, and less trips to the store for me. And finally, it’s better for my body and the bodies of those I love! I have complete control over the ingredients, which means no icky additives, no unnecessary fillers, and no unsavory extra anything.

But you don’t need me to tell you this, right? You know all this already, which is exactly why you’re here reading a “Green Lifestyle” blog. So good, I’m glad we’re on the same page.

Now let’s talk sweeteners.

homegrown stevia

Stevia is my store-bought sweetener of choice for day-to-day living, by which I mean: coffee, tea, iced tea, smoothies, etc. It’s not the best for baking but I don’t do much of that anyway, so stevia is my go-to. I prefer it because the extract has no actual sugar, which means it doesn’t affect my glucose levels or moods in the slightest. It’s also a great option for folks who are trying to lose weight, since it’s one of the only non-chemically-derived calorie-free sweeteners.

But whether you’re doing it for the blood sugar stability or the calorie conservation, liquid stevia is a great choice because it’s all-natural — a tincture made from pure plant extract.

The issue, however, is that it can be pretty expensive. Liquid stevia is prone to developing a bitter or funky aftertaste, which is definitely more prominent in the cheaper products. I really love the smooth finish of NuNaturals Stevia, but that stuff is a pretty penny at almost $12 per bottle.

So! Time to make my own.

home grown stevia

I started off by growing my own stevia plant in my herb garden. I’ve actually been nurturing this plant for over a year – it survived outside last winter and it’s managed the sweltering drought heat of this summer, so I’d say it’s an especially hardy herb. If you’re looking for something fun to add to your garden, fresh stevia is a great choice!

I like to use the leaves blended into smoothies for extra sweetness (a little goes a loooong way!) and boiled along with other fresh herbs like mint and nettle, in my mineral-rich meadow tea infusions that I make for the kids at preschool. There are lots of ways to incorporate fresh stevia into your cooking, so it’s a super fun herb to keep around.

Anyway, for the purposes of this recipe, we’re going to use dried stevia, which I make by picking and washing a batch of the leaves from my garden.

homemade liquid stevia

A little trip to the dehydrator . . .

home made liquid stevia

. . . And we’re ready to go.

Alternatively, you can pick and wash the herbs and then just hang them up to dry. I’ve got a few bundles hanging in my kitchen window right now, and although it takes a little more time, it works just as well.

Alternatively alternatively, you can just buy whole dried stevia leaves online. (Or buy some heirloom stevia seeds to get started growing your own!)

The stevia leaf can be stored in a sealed container, pretty indefinitely, until you’re ready to make your extract.

homemade stevia

To make the extract, you’ll need:

2/3 cup dried stevia leaf
1 cup neutral grain spirit, vodka, or Everclear (I used moon shine!)
a jar with a lid
cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer

home made stevia

Place the dried stevia leaf and alcohol in the jar and cover it with the lid. Give it a little shake and then set it aside. Leave it for 2-3 days, but no more than 3 days max, or it will become too bitter. I like 2 days of steeping, and I try to give it a shake every few hours.

home made stevia extract

Strain the stevia leaf from the liquid using a cheesecloth or very fine mesh strainer. The remaining liquid will be dark. All-natural, baby!

You can store your stevia extract in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. I like to keep the majority of mine in a big glass jar, and keep a little bit on-hand in a vial with a dropper, for easy use in my coffee and tea.

It’s really that easy! Almost effortless, I’d say, and so totally worth it when you factor in financial savings and eco-friendliness.

homemade liquid stevia extract

So now I want to hear from you. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted this kind of DIY eco-friendly life hack, and I’m wanting to do more of them! So I have two questions:

1) What’s your favorite eco-hack/DIY homemade product that you’re already using? And,
2) What’s the biggest eco-hack/DIY homemade product that you’d like to see a tutorial for?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • Anna

    This is so great. I can’t wait to try it!

    Why did you dry the leaves out first? What would happen if you put fresh leaves in?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I imagine that it would work, but I haven’t tried it. I’ll try that method next though!

    I like the dried method because you can dry the leaves in big batches and then store them indefinitely until you’re ready to use them.

  • Jennifer

    I can’t wait to try this! I just bought a house, so growing herbs is now a possibility! So stevia growing is on my to-do list.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh congratulations on the new house, that’s so exciting! Especially the gardening opportunities that property ownership allows. Mazel tov! Happy gardening! ♥

  • Alanna

    This is not a request for an eco-hack or DIY product per se (although it could be indirectly, I suppose, depending on what the details of your answer might be!), but I, like so many others on Instagram last week, would love to see a skin care post from you. :)

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Such a great-and simple-idea!!! I don’t have a dehydrator so I will have to be patient for the drying process:) I would love to see your recipe for the meadow tea infusion! Do they drink it warm or cold? Would love for P to enjoy some healing teas:)

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Great tutorial! I keep meaning to add stevia to my tea garden. I don’t know if I’ll go so far as to make extract but I’m quite interested in using fresh stevia in smoothies and infusions.

  • Madison_Marie

    Very helpful post..thanks!! (and, yes, I’d love to see more) I make my own veggie chick’n bouillon and “beef” broth that are outstanding, as well as
    a DIY sub for ener-g egg replacer. I will post the links below. (p.s. I pulse the bouillon in a spice grinder to make it very powdery and use 1 tsp per cup of water)

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  • Beignet

    My longest running DIY is deodorant. Works fabulously and I love scenting it for summer with essential oils, current favorite is Ylang Ylang. Simple recipe of baking soda, cornstarch and coconut oil. A little runny on very hot days but I never smell :) The other longest running is bone broth (omni reader here!).

  • Sonja

    Because I’m getting allergic reactions to deodorant which contains baking soda, I made my own with cornstarch, coconut oil and essential oils. So far I’m quite happy with that. I’m really interested to see more DIY-tutorials here. Especially products for cleaning the house (but maybe you already posted recipes for those a while ago… I have to check ;-) and for body care.

    Thanks for being amazing! :)

  • Candace

    Thanks for this! Now I have something to do with my stevia plant!
    One of my most used DIY things is all purpose cleaner I make with white vinegar, an essential oil blend that is essentially Thieves oil (but a fraction of the price), and water. I clean all of our surfaces with it and I love how when I run out I don’t have to worry about going to the store to buy another bottle, I just reach into my cupboards and I have more cleaner!
    A natural DIY I would love to see is how to make a natural version of neosporin.

  • Laine

    My favourite DIY as of late has been making homemade fruit chews. I blend fruit (often frozen) with chia seeds then pour into a bowl, stir in more chia, allow to gel then pour onto a teflex sheet in the dehydrator. After dehydrating I cut them into little squares though if I had neat little shapes that would be even more fun. Two of my faves that I’ve recently made were blueberry with acai powder that needed to get used up and fig with a pinch of aniseeds.

  • Laine

    I would love to see a tutorial for natural pest repellents for you garden!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yes Alanna! Will be working on this in early fall – thanks for the reminder!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh I have been wanting to post my meadow tea recipe, I will make a note to do that soon! I usually make a giant batch (like a 1-gallon) and then refrigerate it overnight. So I usually serve it cold. Waits loves it and so do all his little friends!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh you should definitely grow some next year Monika! It’s so easy, low-maintenance for sure. And it’s quite pretty. =)

    I know they sell seeds at Baker Creek!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awesome, thanks Madison!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yesss! I love my DIY deodorant. It was one of my very first natural hacks and really opened my eyes to how wonderful the healthy, homemade natural alternatives can be!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh that’s great that you found a baking soda-free alternative. I do have some home cleaning recipes, you can look here for the ones I’ve posted. I’ll be looking to add more coming soon!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Would you want like an antibacterial cream that speeds healing? That’s the idea of neosporin, right? Does it have numbing properties as well?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Wow those sound AMAZING. I bet Waits would love them – I gotta try that!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I do have this one for rodents! –

    Or did you mean more like aphids and horn worms and cucumber beetles and stuff?

  • Candace

    What prompted the idea for a salve like that is my son had an ingrown toenail and I had nothing to put on it. So yea just something to aids in healing would be nice :)

  • Candace

    Just something that would help aid in healing wounds, scratches, and other abrasions that happen to my son :)

  • Laine

    I was thinking more for insects! Any tips would be awesome!

  • Madison_Marie

    aaagh…I’m from Madison….and Marie is my middle name….most definitely NOT my name :) May have to change that discus log-in :)


    are you familiar with the site Clean Food Dirty Girl ?
    you are both 100 miles left of me, yet both have websites that appeal to me regardless.

  • Rebecca Carnes

    That would be awesome!! I’m really wanting to introduce P to some healthier drink alternatives…. we do a ton of Almond Milk, Smoothies/juices & tea would be a great addition:)

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  • Merilyn Lois

    Stevia is the best from what I’ve read & I have used. It is great to throw into the vita mix with whatever fruits and vegetables that I am going to mix up for breakfast along with Chia and flax. I can put lemon flavoured Stevia in my tea. My mind is so full of ideas of ways to use the flavoured Stevia.

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