Stevia Extract

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Sugar Substitute

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Description

Free of: Sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, corn and additives.

What is Stevia Extract?  Stevia extract is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, native to Brazil and Paraguay.

The active compounds are steviol glycosides (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside), which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable. The body does not metabolize the glycosides in stevia, so it contains zero calories, like other artificial sweeteners. Stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

History of Stevia Extract  The plant Stevia rebaudiana has been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní peoples of South America, who called it ka’a he’ê (“sweet herb”). The leaves have been used traditionally for hundreds of years in both Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten local teas and medicines, and as a “sweet treat”. The genus was named for the Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus.

In 1899, Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni, while conducting research in eastern Paraguay, first described the plant and the sweet taste in detail. Only limited research was conducted on the topic until, in 1931, two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste.

Production of Stevia Extract  Rebaudioside A has the least bitterness of all the steviol glycosides in the Stevia rebaudiana plant. To produce rebaudioside A commercially, Stevia plants are dried and subjected to a water extraction process. This crude extract contains about 50% rebaudioside A. The various glycosides are separated and purified via crystallization techniques, typically using ethanol or methanol as solvent.

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