by Michelle L. Dauberman
1. Harvest your Stevia plants as late in the fall growing season as you can. The longer you wait the sweeter the leaves will taste.
2. Before the light frosts begin to settle it will be a good idea to lightly cover your plants.
3. Protecting your Stevia plants extends the growing season but be sure to harvest your plants before the killing frost. If you wait too long you will lose your plants.
4. Now you’re ready to harvest, trim each stem from the base of the plant.
5. Remove each leaf from the stem and place them on a drying screen or a net.
6. On a warm fall day take the leaf-covered screen/net and place it in direct sun for about twelve hours. You can also use a dehydrator but utilizing the sun is better.
7. When your Stevia leaves are completely dry they are ready to be used or stored.
Using your home grown sweetener is easy. Just crush or grind the leaves to taste and drop them in you favorite beverage or dish.
If you’d like to store your Stevia leaves for future use put them in any air-tight glass container and they will remain sweet for around two years.
For information on the health benefits of this sweetener: http://extension.psu.edu/health/diabetes/news/2010/stevia