Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Practical Cooks
Stevia is one of those exciting sweet plant derivatives that some people love and hate. It has a different flavor that takes some getting used to, in liquid or powder form. Depending on what you’re sweetening, stevia can easily replace sugar most of the time.
Can stevia go bad? One of the best things about stevia is its incredibly long shelf life, almost four years from the date of manufacture for raw stevia.
Since stevia can last so long, it’s an adequate sugar substitute and worthwhile to have around. It keeps on the shelf, whether in solid or liquid form, and it continues to sweeten your recipes or your coffee years after you purchase it.
Stevia has many uses, and we’ll examine some of them now. Not only is it a great sugar substitute for the health-conscious, but it also has a pleasant taste to it that’s easy to get used to over time. That means you might start craving stevia instead of sugar.
What Is Stevia?
If you’ve never heard of stevia, then don’t worry; you’re not alone. Some people might think of the stuff they put in their coffee that almost tastes more bitter than sweet; others might think of that little droplet bottle you can buy at health food stores.
Whatever preconceived notions you might have about stevia, it’s a good idea to know what it is before you make a final decision about whether or not you’ll incorporate it into your daily routine.
The bottom line is that stevia is a natural sweetener from a specific kind of plant. The Stevia rebaudiana is native to Brazil and Paraguay, and stevia is derived from the leaves of this species. It’s a member of the chrysanthemum family, a famous tea-producing family.
Store-bought stevia and home-grown stevia are going to be very different. Anything you buy at the store will not be pure stevia leaf. Instead, it will contain a highly processed stevia leaf mixed with other substances, like erythritol.
You can grow stevia yourself. The leaves are naturally very sweet and can be used in food, soups, and drinks. There are easy ways to process stevia leaves at home so that you can get a pure product without all the added materials.
How to Store Stevia Long-Term
The best way to preserve stevia, especially if you grow and harvest it yourself, is to dry the leaves at low heat with good air circulation. It can take anywhere from one to two days, depending on environmental conditions and the amount you are drying.
Some people like to use dehydrators to preserve their plants, stevia included. If you leave the stems on the leaves, you can even dry them in the sun. Then simply remove the stems before storing them.
Stevia leaves keep best for about one year in air-tight glass jars. You can use plastic bags or other containers, but glass jars are the best for preservation. You want to keep the leaves as far away from humidity as possible. Keeping them dry will help extend the shelf life.
If you don’t want to store them as leaves, you can crumble them or put them through a food processor to get a nice stevia powder before packing it all away. It won’t be challenging to get a nice powder out of them if they are correctly dried.
What Can You Use Stevia For?
Stevia has a wide breadth of uses. Its primary use is as a sugar substitute. That means that you can replace it with stevia for anything you might use sugar for. Whether you’re making brownies, a cake, or soup of some kind, you can use stevia instead of sugar.
As a sugar substitute, stevia has become particularly popular in the health world. Many believe that it has beneficial properties to help with weight control and other sugar-related health problems.
Another widespread use for stevia has been as a coffee sweetener. Since most coffee sweeteners are highly processed, many people these days are looking for alternatives that meet their health goals. Stevia is a much safer option in that regard.
Stevia can last for years as long as you store it in an airtight container and don’t let it get wet or hot for extended periods. Here are a few more quick facts about this sugar alternative.
Can you freeze stevia?
Stevia has many uses, and it’s relatively easy to preserve. It lasts for a long time without much effort and retains its sweetness and flavor for years after purchase.
Stevia does not require refrigeration to last, but you can certainly store it in the fridge if you prefer to do so. It won’t hurt stevia to be in a cold environment, and it may help the sweetener last a little bit longer.
You can also freeze stevia. As we’ve seen, stevia is reasonably resilient and doesn’t require much effort to last for a long time. If you want to freeze it, you can try lining an ice cube tray with the powder and then covering it with a thin layer of distilled water. Once it’s frozen, you can transfer it to a freezer-safe container for storage.
Does stevia have any side effects?
Because stevia is a sweetener, it may have similar side effects as sugar. You can feel bloated if you have too much or experience nausea. Some people report feeling dizzy or numb after consuming stevia.
As always, you should consult a physician if you experience any side effects with stevia. While it is considered safe for everyday use, it can experience adverse effects. It’s also possible to experience allergies to stevia, so be mindful of that if you feel strange after consuming it.
Stevia is an effective sugar substitute with a pleasant taste and lasts for a long time on the shelf. You can grow it yourself or buy it from the grocery store. Either way, it’s nearly impossible for stevia to go bad if you take the right measures to store and preserve it.