Latin Name: Stevia rebaudiana
Origin: Argentina, China, India, Paraguay
Aroma: Sweetish, slightly musty and leafy
History: This plant has been in use for 1,500 years in South America, where it was commonly used to sweeten drinks. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Europeans discovered its use in Paraguay, and has since been growing in popularity in Europe and North America.
Farming/ harvesting: This small perennial herb grows near ponds and other fresh water with well drained soil. It is most native to Paraguay, but has been naturalized in several countries. It is harvested by cutting the entire stalk and hanging upside down to dry, then picking the leaves from the stem.
Culinary applications: This is most commonly used as an extract, where the sweet compounds are taken out of the leaves and is famously a sugar substitute. However, you can use the leaves in teas and steeped like a tea to sweeten various drinks and dishes.
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