Cooking With The Sun!

Look what I got!

Cooking with a Sun Oven

My new baby! I couldn’t wait to try out my new Sun Oven Solar Cooker!

I have been reading the Taylor Made Ranch blog for a couple of years now, and have been so jealous of Tammy’s beautiful Sun Oven.  I have several plans that I found (here’s a good one in Mother Earth News Magazine) to build my own, but somehow my husband and I have never found the time to build one.  When the Sun Oven went on sale this past fall, I jumped at the opportunity to own one!

The oven can do so many things.  Of course it can cook and bake, but it can also be used as a dehydrator and a water sterilizer!  Since Ray and I are trying to live a self-reliant off-grid lifestyle, we decided it would be a great idea to have several methods of cooking food, and the Sun Oven is one of the best off-grid cooking methods we have found!

Cooking in a Solar Oven

Wild blackberry pie filling – nothing better!

I couldn’t wait to try it out.  The oven was out of the box and cooking within an hour! 😉

For my first item, I decided to bake a blackberry cobbler.  Ray and I live in an area where wild blackberries are very abundant. Every year in July and August we gather the blackberries and either freeze them to use in muffins, infused water, cake filling, etc. or make blackberry pie filling. I can the pie filling in pint (for cobblers) or quart (for pies)sized jars. So, I got a pint jar of the blackberry pie filling and made the cobbler, then set it into the preheated Sun Oven.

Wow!

Just…          Wow!

Even though it was early November with the sun low in the sky, the cobbler cooked very well, browning nicely around the edges!  It was really good and I was so impressed! In a normal oven this recipe takes about 45 minutes to cook.  In the Sun Oven, it took almost an hour to cook.  No matter – it wasn’t using any electricity, natural gas or propane, so I was happy to let it bake away!  It was delicious!  (and gone within 24 hours 😉 )

Solar Oven Baking

The cobbler is almost done. You can see that it is starting to brown a bit around the edges. You can also see the temperature dial, showing approximately 340 degrees inside the oven.  Niiiiiiccceee!

Next I wanted to try cooking some kind of meat.  I had a pork loin in my freezer and I also had a bottle of Morse Farms Mandarin Jalapeno Barbeque Sauce, so I thought the two would make a wonderful pulled pork sandwich.

Cooking in a solar oven

Here is a pork loin roast sizziling happily away in my Sun Oven!

Without bothering to preheat the oven, I stuck the roast in and let ‘er go! No, I didn’t add any liquid.  The instructions that come with the Sun Oven says that it’s almost impossible to burn anything, so I decided liquid wasn’t necessary! Within an hour the roast was sizzling and browning and smelling oh so good.  I let it cook for about 3 hours, as the temperature never really got over 325 that day and actually hovered between the 275-300 degree fahrenheit range, due to the overcast skies.  What’s cool about this is that the oven was working much like a slow cooker or “crock pot” and I knew the meat would be good and tender after several hours.  After about three hours, I shredded the pork loin (easily done with 2 forks) and added about 1 cup of the marinade. But wait, there’s more!  I decided to try stacking an apple/raisin/walnut crisp on top of the now shredded and flavored pork loin.  The Sun Oven came with these stacking pans and they work wonderfully!

Here is the apple/raisin/walnut crisp baking, stacked on top of the pork roast! The smell coming from this box was amazing!

Here is the apple/raisin/walnut crisp baking, stacked on top of the pork roast! The smell coming from this box was amazing!

After just another hour, the pork was moist and delicious and the apple crisp was done.  I had dinner and dessert!  The stacking pans really come in handy.  If I was just a bit more industrious, I could have also put in a small loaf of bread on the rack right next to the pans!

Pulled pork in Mandarin Jalapeno barbeque sauce, with a slice of Swiss cheese on a hamburger bun. Sooooo Gooooood!

Pulled pork in Mandarin Jalapeno barbeque sauce, with a slice of Swiss cheese on a hamburger bun.

The pulled pork turned out very moist and delicious.  The apple/ raisin/walnut crisp was to die for!

The best part?  Nothing burns!  Really!  To be honest, folks, I am notorious for burning things.  In fact, when my kids were growing up they used to tease me and say that the smoke alarm was their dinner bell!  😉  Even after cooking the pulled pork for an hour in sticky barbeque sauce, they were very easy to clean up afterward.  I literally swished the pans with warm soapy water, rinsed them off and – et voila’ – clean!

Speaking of bread…

Cooking bread in a Sun Oven

Two full sized loaves of french bread happily baking away in the solar oven. They didn’t really brown much, but that’s okay because they tasted amazing!

I had to try baking bread.  French bread.  On a day with lots of white puffy clouds.

Hmmmm…  It was sunny first thing in the morning.  Not a cloud in sight!  So I made some french bread dough, let it rise, made it into loaves and let it rise again.  Just when I was ready to pop them into the preheated oven, a few clouds obscured the sun.  Then a few more.   Lovely.  Can you hear my sourchasm?

It didn’t matter!  It took almost 2-1/2 hours to get these loaves baked, but by golly, they baked.  And they were good!  The insides achieved a great crumb with really nice texture in spite of the weather.  I thought they would be concrete inside, or perhaps gooey, but no – perfect french bread minus the browning.  I read that I could get the bread to brown if I put either a sugar glaze or an egg white wash on the loaves, but that’s just to make them pretty.  We don’t care if our bread is pretty, we just want it to taste good!

My next experiment?  Brownies!  My youngest son was coming up for a day to help out with some of the heavy chores, and one of his favorite desserts is brownies!  Michael graduated from college recently with a Major in Social Science and a Minor in Sustainability, so he was excited to see how the Sun Oven performed.  Well…

Baking brownies in a solar oven

Mmmmm… these brownies turned out great!  And I didn’t have to worry about burning them!

These brownies turned out so good!  I could have left them in the oven just a tad bit longer, however, because the very center was a bit on the gooey side. Since foods cooked in the Sun Oven don’t burn, I shouldn’t have been so hasty to take them out. No matter, that’s how Michael likes them anyway!

So, what have I learned so far?

  1.  Cooking in a Sun Oven is a lot of fun, and it really does work!
  2. Food does not burn in the Sun Oven, so if in doubt whether the food is done, cook it a little bit longer instead of constantly opening the door to check it.  Every time the door is opened, you loose a lot of heat and it will take just that much longer to cook.
  3. The food cooking in the oven smells so good, it will attract various wildlife along with your local neighborhood dog.  Place the oven where you can see it at all times or, better yet, put it somewhere the dogs can’t get to it.
  4. Wear sunglasses.  The reflection from the oven can be blindingly bright!
  5. Use hot pads.  Yeah – for some reason I had it in my brain that these don’t get very hot.  They do.  If the temperature gauge reads 350 degrees, your food and pans will also be 350 degrees.
  6. Place the Sun Oven on a level surface.  Since I have been cooking during the winter, the sun is very low in the sky, so the Sun Oven is tilted at it’s max!  If you don’t have a level and sturdy surface, the oven just might tip over!

My next experiment is going to be making zucchini chips and hamburger jerky, because I am curious to see how the Sun Oven works as a dehydrator.

I am so glad we bit the bullet and bought this Sun Oven.  We still plan to build our own solar oven with the plans mentioned above (here is another DIY solar oven), because there will be days during the summer when we will want to cook down tomatoes for canning, bake bread, dehydrate vegetables and fruits, etc., all at the same time!

The solar oven is another important tool for our off-grid homestead.  On days when the sun is shining, even in the winter, we have a free energy source to cook food.  If the time ever comes that our well goes dry and we need to drink our collected rainwater, the solar oven will provide a way to sterilize the water and make it safe to drink.

Have you ever cooked in a solar oven?    0001

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Here’s The (Ground) Beef!

I bought 40 pounds of 93/7 hamburger and processed it all into meal sized portions for the freezer last weekend. Whew!

Ground Beef from Zaycon

The Zaycon 93/7 Ground Beef comes in four – 10 pound packages.

I have been buying my boneless/skinless chicken breasts through Zaycon foods for about a year now and just love it!  The breasts (also sold in 40 pound packages) are huge with hardly any fat on them! You can see what I did with all those chicken breasts HERE.

Then I tried their bacon.  Mmmmm…. bacon!   The Zaycon bacon comes in twelve 3 pound packages.  What I like to do is bake an entire package of bacon all at once (yes, I bake mine in the oven – so much easier!) and store them six strips wide on layers of paper towels in the freezer. I don’t bake them until they are crispy, just lightly browned and almost done. Then, when we want bacon for breakfast, or baked in squash, or to crumble on a salad, all I have to do is place some strips in a cast iron pan over medium high heat for just a few minutes to “refresh and crisp”!  It’s a great time-saver.

I was so happy with the chicken breasts and bacon, that I decided to try their 93/7 ground beef.  It’s unbelievable how much cheaper the Zaycon ground beef is than the grocery stores around town, and the meat is also a lot fresher!  Since I got four 10 pound packages of ground beef, I decided to use each package in a different way.  Every time someone uses the link on the right to purchase Zaycon foods, I am compensated a dollar – so, thanks to those of you who have supported this blog with your purchase!  :0  If you would like to see if Zaycon delivers in your area, the link has a map of all the delivery sites in the United States.

Zaycon Hamburger

I got this hamburger press from Tupperware many years ago. It makes perfectly uniform hamburger patties for even cooking! It also speeds up the process of making lots and lots of hamburgers!

The first package of ground beef was made into hamburger patties.  I got this hamburger making press many, many moons ago and have loved it ever since.  It makes perfectly sized hamburgers that are all just about the same weight.  That way, when cooking up the burgers, they are all done at the same time.  Using this press it took very little time to get a bunch of hamburgers formed!  I mean, a bunch!  The only thing I added to  the burgers before forming them was a little bit of sea salt and some black pepper.  That way, in the future, if I have run out of the frozen cooked ground beef, I can always use the burgers instead!  Once the hamburgers were formed, I layered them between parchment paper and placed them in the freezer. When they were frozen solid, they were packaged two by two with my sucky machine (aka Food Saver).

Then, it was time to make meatloaf. Or should I say meatloafs.  Maybe meatloaves?

Whatever.  😉

Hamburger from Zaycon

Some of the ingredients I put in this batch of meatloaf. I don’t think I have ever made my meatloaf the same way twice!

I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make meatloaf, just some of this and a little bit of that.  I always add eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, catsup and onions.  Then, I tend to throw in whatever else sounds good and may be at hand, such as garlic, jalapenos or chiles, rice, carrots, parsley, cauliflower, etc.. Most of the time the combinations are really good.  Sometimes, not so much. Ask me how I know a combo of chiles, jalapenos, garlic and onions may be a bit too spicy in a meatloaf!  I usually combine all the ingredients in my mixer with the dough hook attachment, and then finish off with my hands.  When ready for making into the actual meat “loaf”, I have found that the small aluminum loaf pans or the plastic tubs that sandwich meats come in work perfectly.  We don’t buy sliced sandwich meat anymore, but these tubs seem to last forever, and have come in handy in so many ways! Then, off to the freezer.

Ray and I just love meatloaf and baked potatoes…   mmmmmm,  comfort food.

But I think Ray actually prefers to eat the left-overs the next day in a meatloaf sandwich.

What to do with Ground Beef

Nine dinners (and lunches) all ready to defrost and cook! Easy Peasy!

The next day was meatball day.  I searched for recipes on the internet and found one that Ree Drummond (Pioneer Lady) uses.  It was fairly simple and plain, so I could serve the meatballs in any number of different sauces:  teriyaki, beef gravy, spaghetti., etc..  Ray and I spent a couple of hours mixing together the ingredients, making the meat mixture into balls and then frying them on fairly high heat to get a good brown crust on them, but not cooking them completely through.  The meatballs were then placed on parchment lined cookie sheets and popped into the freezer.  Once frozen, I placed 25 meatballs into gallon sized freezer bags.  I got 4-1/2 bags, or 115 meatballs!  Now, whenever we want to have a meatball sandwich, or meatballs in gravy over mashed potatoes, I just pluck some meatballs out of the bag, let them thaw for a few minutes, then add them to whatever sauce I’m using – easy peasy!

Frying up the meatballs. I am so glad I found Ree Drummond's recipe - the meatballs turned out just perfect!

Frying up the meatballs. I am so glad I found Ree Drummond’s recipe – the meatballs turned out just perfect!

On top of spaghetti,                       All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.                 Remember that blast from the past?

Finally, I had one more 10 pound package of ground beef.  Whew – almost done!  I decided to just brown the ground beef, wash it, then package it in 2 cup increments.  This is the perfect amount to make tacos, chili, stroganoff, etc..

Two cup packages of ground beef all ready to be thawed and made into a pasta sauce, chili beans, enchiladas, etc...

Two cup packages of frozen ground beef all ready to be thawed and made into a pasta sauce, chili beans, enchiladas, etc…  In the end I had 15-1/2 two cup packages!

“Wash it?” you ask.  Why, yes, I wash my ground beef by placing the hot ground beef under hot water running from my kitchen faucet. Tilt the pan just a bit. The fat floats up and over the top of the pan and runs down the drain, rendering your ground beef nearly fat free!  Or, you can put the ground beef in a colander and run it under hot tap water.  Either way works.  Yes, a lot of the flavoring does go down the drain with that fat, but if you are adding stuff back like taco seasonings or peppers and onions, you won’t miss the fat flavoring at all!  And it’s much better for you!  Caution: if you aren’t using a fairly lean ground beef, you may have a lot (and I mean a lot) of fat, which could be a potential problem for your plumbing. Try draining the ground beef in a colander that you center over a large pot and run the hot water over it that way.  If you do this, chill the fat/water combo and all the fat will rise to the top, solidify, and now you have tallow!  What can you do with tallow?  Make soap!  Tallow soap is wonderful!  Click on my Soapmaking link at the top of this page for more ideas.Olive Oil and Lard Soap Recipe

So, there you have it!  For a few hours of labor (it was actually fun making meatballs with my dearest) you can prepare lots of freezer ready food.  In the morning when I know I am going to have a busy day, I will place a meat loaf in the refrigerator (on the door where it is the warmest) and then around 4ish in the afternoon pop it and a couple of Idaho’s in the oven for a delicious, easy meal.  But then, the easiest thing for me is to tell Ray it’s his night to cook and have him grill up some burgers! 😉0001

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Beef and Chicken Jerky

Last Christmas I was given a really cool gift – a jerky maker!how to make chicken jerky

This thing works like a caulking gun.  You mix your ground meat with whatever spices or cure you are using, load up the barrel, and then smoosh the stuff out onto a dehydrating tray or cookie sheet.  After several hours in your dehydrator or oven – voila – jerky!  It’s that simple.  The coolest part about it is that you make your jerky from ground meat.  No need to thinly slice the meat anymore!

I actually prefer this kind of jerky.  Why?  Because it’s a lot easier on the teeth and jaws!  I have eaten (at least tried to) many commercially produced beef jerky products before that were just like shoe leather.  They had lots of flavor but took forever to actually eat!  The jerky made from ground meat tastes just as good but doesn’t cause sore jaws!

beef and chicken jerky recipe

hamburger beef jerky ready to be dehydrated.

The Nesco jerky maker I got has six packages of spices with six packages of cure.  If you buy this product, you should probably make a batch or two using the spices provided, just so you know what it’s supposed to look like, taste like, etc.. Then, branch out and try some other recipes.  I have gathered several good recipes and list them at the end of this article.  Once you try these, you can start developing your own recipe to reflect your own tastes!

One note about the “cure” package that is included in the Nesco Jerky Maker.  The cure contains sodium nitrite.  Large amounts of sodium nitrite isn’t good for you.  Period.  There have been lots of studies proving that it can cause cancer. Sure, small quantities here and there aren’t much of a concern simply because there are lots of naturally occurring nitrites in healthy natural foods that we eat every day.  Spinach has lots of nitrites.  So does celery.  By the way, so does your saliva!  So, what is the sodium nitrite good for?  It keeps the meat a nice pink color and it prevents botulism.  Deli meats are “cured” with nitrites to prevent botulism from growing deep inside the meat while it hangs in a cool room. However, I don’t plan to stop eating bacon or salami any day soon.  Nope.  So, why tempt fate and add more in the jerky when it’s not really necessary?

The biggest fear of not using nitrites is with the devastating effects of botulism poisoning.  It’s deadly.  But, for botulism to thrive (it’s actually the toxins produced by the botulism that causes the problems) it needs four things:  an anaerobic environment (no oxygen), moisture, warmth, and a low acid food.  When canning meat, you have an anaerobic environment, you have moisture and you also have a low acid food.  But, when you pressure can the food, you are able to kill the botulism before it can cause any harm.  That’s why you always pressure can any low acid food such as meats and most vegetables.

When making jerky, it’s perfectly fine not to add in the sodium nitrite cure if you are going to eat the jerky within a month or so.  Why?  Because you took out one of the major needs for the botulism to grow – moisture!  If you want to vacuum seal your jerky, which would put the meat into an anaerobic environment – just throw it into the freezer!  Now you have taken away the warmth AND the moisture requirement for botulism to grow.  That’s what I do.How to make beef and chicken jerky

One more word of caution.  Some dehydrators out there don’t get very hot.  For your jerky to be perfectly safe, the meat must reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, poultry 165 degrees.  This temperature ensures that all the pathogens that the meat can carry are killed off, including E. Coli, salmonella and other nasty bugs.  So, if you are drying in a conventional oven set at 170 degrees (which is the lowest most ovens go), you are perfectly fine.  However, if you dehydrator temperatures do not go that high, you will need to place your almost dried jerky strips in a preheated 275 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Since this will cook the jerky just a bit more, you will want to pull your jerky from the dehydrator before it has finished dehydrating to do this.  If, after the 10 minutes in the oven your jerky still isn’t done, that’s okay.  Just put it back into the dehydrator (after you have thoroughly washed the trays!) and finish dehydrating.  You have already killed off all of the bad bugs!

So – lets make some jerky!

HAMBURGER JERKY

This is the standard – or what my Nesco Jerky Maker was meant to be used with.  You can always buy your hamburger, but I prefer to grind my own.  That way I know what went into my hamburger and I can better control the fat content.

Once the hamburger has been ground up, mix in the spices and cure package (if you are using it) until it looks pretty uniform.  I found that when using my Kitchen Aid with the food grinder attachment, if I grind the meat using the large extruder plate, mix the meat and spices, then put the entire mixture back through the grinder with the smaller plate, I get a really good consistency that isn’t totally mush, but has mixed everything together really nicely.

how to make chicken jerky

The jerky “gun” loaded with the hamburger mixture and ready to go!

Now, load the barrel of the jerky maker. It will hold about 1 pound of meat.  Following manufacturer’s instructions, extrude the meat mixture onto either your dehydrator trays or onto a cookie sheet. Or, if you don’t have a jerky maker, roll the meat out between two sheets of waxed paper on top of a large cookie sheet.  Cut the meat into strips then freeze the entire cookie sheet with the meat on it.  When frozen (it shouldn’t take too long), you can carefully lift each previously cut strip of meat off the paper and place onto your dehydrator trays.  If you are using your oven to dehydrate, just separate the jerky strips a bit, leave them on the cookie sheet, and dehydrate it that way.  Once the jerky starts to dehydrate, flip them over and remove the paper.  Whichever method you use, carefully flip the jerky strips after about an hour, and then again at two hours.  It could take anywhere from 4-18 hours to sufficiently dry your jerky, depending on the humidity, temperature, method used and thickness of the meat.

CHICKEN JERKY

You can make jerky from just about any kind of meat you want to.  Of course we have all heard of venison jerky, beef jerky and turkey jerky – so why not chicken jerky?

how to make beef jerky

Chicken jerky ready for the oven.

I took two breasts I had frozen last week (see how I prepared 40 pounds of chicken), cut them into strips and then ground them just like I did the beef.  You have to be careful with grinding chicken, however, because it tends to mush up a lot easier than the beef or even turkey.  I ground my chicken breasts on the large extruder plate, then added spices, and put only half of the chicken and spice mixture through the extruder again.  When it was mixed again, it was a perfect consistency. Proceed just from here just like you are making beef jerky.

Now, as promised, here are some jerky recipes I have found and used.  I listed the web site that the entire recipe can be found and an ingredients list.  If you find a recipe you like, just visit the website to find the entire recipe!  Enjoy!

This one comes from:  www.allergyfreealaska.com

jerky 1

 

This recipe is from:   www.food.com

jerky 2

 

You can find this recipe here:  www.modernistcookingmadeeasy.comjerky 3

One more beef recipe:  www.offthecuttingboard.wordpress.comjerky 4

Now for some Turkey (or chicken) Jerky recipes.

Find this one here:   www.foodpreservation.about.comjerky 5

One more:   www.beefjerkyrecipes.comjerky 6

Have fun making and developing your own jerky recipes!  If you have a blog and have posted your version of the best jerky in the world, please let me know in the comments below!

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Good Night, Sweet (stevia) Prince

Good night, sweet prince”  (Forgive me, I love Shakespeare.)

What I am referring to is the death of my stevia plant.  I killed him.  On purpose.

how to grow stevia

He was a beautiful plant, except where I kept cannibalizing him!  😀

Why?  Because for it to survive, he must live inside my house, as he did last winter, and that’s not going to happen this year.  Why?  Well, for one reason, we are in the early stages of selling our home in the valley so we can move up to our future homestead and build our new house. (It’s about time!!) The garden where the stevia was planted (before I potted it up last winter) has long since been turned back into lawn – which according to our real estate agent is what most potential buyers want to see. So, my poor sweet prince has had to live in his pot on my front porch. 🙁

But more importantly, I don’t want to have the stevia in the house because last winter he became infested with an itty bitty critter called scale.  I’m not sure where the scale came from, and though I think I finally got rid of that pesky pest, but I don’t want to chance infecting my other house plants, either here or up on our future homestead.

Salad in the window

Here is my sweet prince in my windowsill last winter. The plant thrived and even bloomed in that south facing, warm window!

He served me well.  Very well. ” And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

Well, don’t be silly.  I know plants don’t go to heaven.  But I will tell you, this plant was heavenly!  Next spring I hope to start at least four stevia plants, and I will use what I have learned about growing this plant so my future sweet leaf plants thrive as well as, or even better!  What did I learn?

First – they like water, but don’t like wet feet.  In other words, keep their soil moist but not wet.

Second – they love sunshine – sort of.  When my stevia seedlings were first planted in the spring, they actually did quite well.  That is until the zucchini horned in on their space and shut out their direct sunlight!  Once I pulled out the zucchini (it got squash mosaic virus), the stevia started growing like wildfire!  Well, not really like wildfire, but certainly faster than it did when it was partially shaded by the big bad zucchini! Of course, that was in the spring.  Once the hot days of summer set in, the stevia seemed to suffer a bit in the strong sunlight!  I think they would have done better with a bit more afternoon shade.  Lessons learned.

One of two stevia seedlings in the garden.  Can you see how that squash leaf is starting to encroach in the stevia's sunlight?

One of two stevia seedlings in the garden. Can you see how that squash leaf is starting to encroach in the stevia’s sunlight?

Third – humans aren’t the only critters who like the stevia leaves.  I don’t know if bugs can taste sweetness (I am sure they can’t), but it seemed like every aphid, white fly and eventually scale wanted to munch on my stevia.  The white fly and aphids were easy enough to control with a spray made of water and just a drop of olive oil steeped in rosemary.  The scale seemed a bit more resistant.  I discovered, however, if I examined the plant every day and scraped off each scale as I found it, then continued to spray on my organic pest concoction, the scale was at least controlled (I haven’t seen an adult scale in about three months now) or completely eradicated!

Since I knew I wasn’t taking the stevia with me up to the future homestead and I couldn’t bring her into the house, I decided to harvest the last of her sweet leaves.  The simplest way to preserve the leaves is to just dry them in open air out of direct sunlight.  They dry to crunchy status within a day or two.  Store them in a jar or some other air-tight container and they can be used for at least a year.

how to grow stevia and what to do with it

Air drying stevia. It only takes a few days – then store in an airtight container.

How to I use my dried stevia leaves?  I drop some crushed leaves into my herbal teas. The heat from the water produces a lovely, natural sweetness.  Or, soak in very warm water for about 15-30 minutes (until soft and pliable and cooled off), crushing leaves against the side of the container every 5 minutes or so, then strain water into a pitcher of a cool beverage that you want to sweeten.  Lemon balm and stevia is refreshing on a hot summer day!

I have also made a tincture with stevia, which works great.  See this post HERE.

how to grow and use stevia

Store stevia syrup and/or tincture in dark glass bottles in a cool dark place.

As I throw the stevia carcass on the compost pile, I can only dream of next year’s crop.  I hope to be able to keep the new plants in the ground year-round, but we’ll see if that’s possible on the future homestead.  Being a semi-tropical plant, stevia does not like frost, and freezing temperatures are a death sentence.  However, with careful tenting and heavy mulching, I am hopeful.

how to grow and use stevia

Stevia flowers are beautiful and the plant usually blooms in the fall (November in my area). However, the blossoms can make your stevia leaves a bit bitter, so harvest as soon as you see the first blossom…      In other words, do as I say, not as I do!  😉

Do you have a stevia plant?  If you do, do you leave it in the ground for the winter or pot it up and bring it inside?  Also, do you have any special recipes you use your stevia in? If you do, please  share your recipe in the comments below, or add your post url containing the recipe!

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