I will never forget my first stevia plant! After a long search and finally tasting my first leaf, I was almost disgusted at the intense sweetness of such a small leaf. Stevia is however safe to use for diabetics and it does not affect the blood sugar levels at all. The active compound called stevioside, is about 300 times sweeter that normal table sugar. It has quite a distinct after taste and most people find this taste something to get used to. There are several ways to use it in your everyday life and unfortunately it does not crystallise. You can add dried leaves to a pepper grinder and just grind a bit into your coffee (if you donâ€™t mind the residue), alternatively you can make an alcohol-based extract or a concentrated â€˜syrupâ€™. The compound is quite heat stable so this should not be a problem. Stevia is also used in some fever blister remedies.
An easy to grow perennial with flushes of small white flowers in summer. It needs fertile soil in order to produce enough stevioside and a good weekly watering. They should be planted in full sun and any old woody growth should be pruned back at the beginning of the season. We found that bees love these little flowers and older plants tend to spread seeds which may give you a few surprise plants in the garden