Stevia rebaudiana– Another plant to add to your home garden!
At City Greens, we have tried to highlight the variety of plants that can be included to grow at home. Today, we bring another such possible crop to grow- albeit this can be done more for commercial purposes.
All who are scouting for a zero calorie natural sweetener can attempt growing this plant.
Botanically, Stevia rubidiana is known by many vernacular names viz., sweet herb, candy leaf, sugar leaf, bio sweetener etc. This belongs to the plant family Asteraceae.
This plant has its origins traced to South America. Many years ago, people in South America used these leaves to sweeten beverages (Tea), as medicine and chewed them raw for its sweet taste!!
The stevia herb entirely can be used. However, the maximum sugar content is present in the leaf.
What makes stevia sweet??
Steviol glycoside, which is naturally present in the leaf gives the sweet taste to plant
There are about 11 steviol glycosides present in this plant of which Rebaudioside A and Stevioside are the most abundant.
Will stevia replace our table sugar??
No doubt… Yes, it will
Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than our sucrose!!
How to grow this natural sweetener?
By planting cuttings!!
One can attempt growing the same by sowing the seeds, but germination percentage is very less.
What type of climate does it need?
It needs a temperature of around 30-32 degree Celsius
For commercial growing, in soil media- well drained red soil is most suitable for this plant
In the hydroponic method, you can use Cocopeat as growing media go grow.
At our research centre, we are attempting and planning to test stevia with different hydroponics system (NFT, DWC).
After how many days will stevia be ready to taste??
You must wait for 4 months after planting to be able to get the sweet taste in the leaf- directly while chewing it.
But, to get more sweetness in the leaf (more of Steviol glycoside content), pluck the leaves prior to flowering!
After the first harvest – subsequent harvests can be done at 3 months intervals.
How to use the leaves after harvesting?
Simple! Pluck and Eat! Fresh and Healthy!!
To store the leaves for a longer period, one needs to shade dry the leaves immediately after harvest, as exposure to harsh sunlight/high temperature may reduce its characteristic aroma and essential oil contents.
A long period of drying reduces its stevioside content (sweetener content)!!
After drying, pack and store it in a cool and dry place.
Enjoy it by adding to your tea, foods etc.
Stevia is used very widely on a commercial scale.
- It is used in powder and tablet form in almost all artificial sweeteners.
- Herbal tonics and tablets containing stevia are also available.
- It is safe for diabetic patients.
- Suited for obese persons.
- It has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, diuretic and cardiotonic property.
- It also prevents skin diseases like dermatitis, eczema, wrinkles, skin blemishes, acne outbreaks, scarring, rashes, and itchiness
- Stevia also acts as a synthesizer of oral contraceptives, cholesterol suppressing medicine, antitumor activity against prostate tumors and activity against rheumatism.
Some studies have tried to understand the negative impacts of stevia consumption.
These studies have not found any direct co-relation yet – but it is said that if stevia is consumed in very large quantities it may have a role to play in antifertility.
Hope you try this out! We sure are going to!! And the next time you go to a store don’t forget to check out the ingredients mentioned to any of the many available artificial sweeteners present in the market.