Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stevia Harvest

Yesterday's frost coated the leaves of my stevia plants with a thin layer of ice. When touched, the ice layer broke into tiny pieces and shattered in my hand. The leaves beneath were still green and fresh. Once the morning fog dissipated and the sunshine was able to reach the stevia plants, they were as good as new! There were only a few 'black spots' indicating damage on some of the leaves. Yesterday afternoon I harvested all the remaining stevia that was growing in my garden. The stalks with leaves were given a warm water bath and shake. Then, using kitchen shears, I removed the leaves and then gave them another quick wash. I layered the damp leaves on a large tea towel covered tray and set them in front of the wood fire to dry. After they reach the desired stage of dehydration, I will place the leaves in my food processor and give them a few quick pulses to chop them into small bits of dried stevia leaf. A zip-lock container keeps them safe from moisture and absorption until use. This leaf is a welcome and sweet addition to cups of herbal tea during the winter months.

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