I recently became aware of this South American plant, which, according to a lot of granola eating types, is a cheap, easy, healthy, and tasty substitute for sugar, but is blocked by the FDA, supposedly because of collusion with “Big Sweetener.”
I’ve tried stevia in apple pie and several other baked items. I don’t know about it’s status with the powers that be but I do know that it has a rather bitter after taste. As far as I can tell it is no substitute for sugar. The recipes I used were from a cookbook adapted for stevia. Yuck
I found stevia to be neither cheap, easy to use, healthy or tasty. It tastes nasty, it is easy to overly sweeten something and it seems ideally suited for stuff like granola and oatmeal but not for cooking.
I can buy it in my local supermarket, must not be too illegal.
I was fortunate to be there when they were demoeing it too, and snuck a taste of the raw product. I don’t know if it were cut with flour or something, but it wasn’t very sweet, and a touch bitter. Not as EWWWUGH bitter as nutrisweet, but given a choice I’d rather eat “nothing” than something with stevia in it.
I can understand how diabetics would like it as a better substitute for sugar. (That is, if it IS a diabetic-safe sweetener, I haven’t looked into that aspect.)
Well, I actually use stevia on a daily basis, and I am quite fond of it. I’ve purchased it in a number of forms (liquid, pre-measured poweder packets, and powder) at my local market. It’s not great as a complete sugar substitute, but I love it in my tea, coffee, cocoa, etc. But it is very strong and should be used sparingly. It does contain 0 calories, though, and the brand I use has some fruit fiber added to it. anyways, just my two cents on the subject.
Stevia has been readily available, especially in health and “health conscious” food chains, in the Boston area for over a decade. it may not be in every local grocery, but it’s not hard to find. I don’t know how cheap it could be, but on a per-serving basis, the least expensive brand is currently pricier than the least expensive brand of the usual sweeteners. However, I wouldn’t judge its potential price by that. Oddly, “pure fructose” is often in the same price range, and it is possibly the most widespread sugar in the plant world (and is less than a tenth the price when purchased as, say “corn syrup”) It’s a marketing thing
I’ve been urged to use it in various dishes by friends and family members (I’m almost always the one who cooks for gatherings). I’ve never been impressed, and often been disappointed. Recently, my sister asked for a stevia sweetened tofu pie (don’t laugh-- even my most meat-and-potato pals love my no-bake fruit-tofu pies and cheesecakes. I make them in big batches because everyone wants to take one home). When I asked why she wanted stevia, she said “I’ve heard such good things about it, but I can never get it to come out halfway decent.”
Neither can I, Sis, neither can I. Frankly, I’m not wasting any more time trying, even if I do have half a box left in the pantry. If you want my opinion, someone’s been selling you a bill of goods. I’ve filed stevia away with all the other blind “it’s an herb so it must be good” crap I’ve heard over the years.
Call your local grocery stores. Try it yourself. If you find it to be as good as you’ve been told, please post back with a recipe. I always love learn a new trick.
On second thought, if anyone has a good consistent stevia recipe (I find it varies greatly between brands), post it here. I have half a box to use up.
Stevia is a South American shrub whose leaves have been used for centuries by native peoples in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten their yerba mate and other stimulant beverages. Although the FDA has not approved its use in foods, you can buy it in health food stores as a dietary supplement. The European Union concluded in 1999 that it is “not acceptable” as a sweetener because of concerns about its toxicity. Infertility has been shown in rats fed megadoses and mutagenicity has been demonstrated in the lab. Very large amounts can interfere with the absorption of carboydrates and disrupt the conversion of food into energy. (Nutrition Action Health Letter, April 2000)
As an alternative, then, why bother with Stevia, which is only 300 times as sweet as sugar, when you can go with Monellin(from the serendipity berry)? Granted, it * does *contain 4 calories per gram, but at 3000 times the sweetness of sugar, you wouldn’t need too much.
Since it’s a protein, I’m gonna guess it won’t work so well for baking, though.
Why not just use Splenda? It tastes good, and you can cook with it. And it’s FDA approved!
As to the question of why not to use sugar - the biggest problem with sugar is its high glycemic index, meaning that your body absorbs it very quickly, then your body cranks up the insulin to get your blood sugar down, then the sugar absorption runs out, and you’re left with extra insulin in your blood, which takes your blood sugar too low, making you feel crappy - tired, hungry, cranky.