Monday, October 26, 2009


Because I just can't get enough of fresh vegetables, to supplement my own harvest, I belong to a CSA.  Farmer Allan Balliett runs the Fresh and Local CSA out of Shepherdstown, WV.   He delivers in my neighborhood but even more convenient, he delivers on the university campus where I work.   A couple of weeks ago he asked me if I'd like some Stevia plants.  Huh?  It is a South American herb used as a sweetener and is many times sweeter than sugar.  He delivered a few stalks and then the fun began to try and figure out what to do with them.   I found some recipes from herbal related sites that suggested steeping the flowers and leaves in an alcohol mixture, then adding water and boiling it down a little.  I took a mason jar, stripped the plants of leaves and flowers and put them in the jar.  Added some lemon balm from my herb garden.  I had a small bottle of vodka, left over from making pasta sauce so I added that to the jar.  It wasn't enough to cover the leaves and since I didn't want to buy another bottle, I called my honey, S, thinking surely he will have vodka.  He didn't but for some reason he had an unopened bottle of grappa in his freezer.  Holy moly, I'll take it!  The next day with grappa bottle in hand, I poured enough of it over the leaves/vodka mixture.  Steeped it for a couple of days after which, thanks to the lemon balm, the mixture was now a gross looking green.  Strained the mixture, added a couple of cups of water and then simmered for a while to reduce it.

The idea was to use it to sweeten homemade ice tea.  I made lots and lots of iced tea because my son and I love it.  I made the tea the usual way (boil 4 cups of water, add 7 tea bags and steep for 5 min.  Strain, pour into pitcher and add 4 cups cold water.  I usually add sugar to the hot mixture after straining).  Instead of adding sugar I added 2 teaspoons of the stevia mixture.  IT IS DELICIOUS!

Now what do I do with the rest of the grappa, sitting in my freezer?

1 comment:

  1. That sounds great! I looked for some Stevia this year and wasn't able to find it, but wasn't even sure what I'd do with it when I did! I've heard that the aftertaste is herbal -- so it makes sense that it would be great in iced tea and make it just sweet enough. Thanks for the recipe - and I'm really enjoying your blog!
    Jenny (from wmoms)