Stevia extract can be really tricky. It took me a couple of months of using it before I became comfortable. Now that I’ve been using it for over 2 years, I’m really very comfortable with it. But I have occasional flashbacks to the not so edible concoctions of my early days with stevia extract. So these are my top 10 tips for using stevia. If you’re new to using stevia, or if you’re used to a different brand, I’ve included some tips for the new THM Pure Stevia (affiliate link to the Amazon). The texture is a bit different, and it’s super intensely sweet. Which makes it a great bargain and it’s got a great flavor.
Just to be super clear: these tips apply to the *super* concentrated stevia extract (which I’ve reviewed here.) You can also use a blend of stevia with erythritol or xylitol (brands like THM Sweet Blend or Truvia). The blends measure more like sugar, and are a little easier to use when you’re just learning. Because the extract is so concentrated, it’s less expensive but a little trickier. Hence this top 10 list!
10 Trim Healthy Mama Stevia Tips
- Tap the bag before opening to settle the powder. THM stevia is VERY powdery (think powdered sugar or baking powder.) So it can ‘poof’ when the bag is opened. Tapping it will help to shake the contents down and prevent the powder poof.
- Shake it! I missed the ease of shaking my stevia like the old New Naturals (their formula was granulated, so it wasn’t as clumpy). I prefer to store the THM stevia in an alternative container, since the bag doesn’t reseal very well, and it’s so fluffy & powdery. I have a glass spice jar (affiliate link) similar to this:It’s hard to see in the photo, but one side flips up to pour and the other side has larger holes like a parm cheese shaker. The bigger holes allow me to shake the clumpier/powdery stevia, or I can use the measuring spoon (doonk) on the bigger opening. My jar is a bit smaller and is an Olde Thompson style spice jar, but same concept…I love still having the shake option to add sweetness to my tea or yogurt. However, shaking on extract is an advanced move. 🙂 Which leads me to tip number 3…
- Use the “doonk” when measuring stevia extract…it’s the teensy spoon that they enclose in the packages. This takes the guesswork out of measuring stevia extract, as all of the official THM recipes will be converted to ‘doonks’ instead of shakes. I’m not cool enough to know how to pronounce “doonk.” I prefer to use Sweet Blend (or a homemade version of stevia mixed in a base of erythritol or xylitol) because using tiny doll house sized measuring spoons is a little too complicated for me. But on the occasion that I *do* need to measure stevia extract, I love this set of stainless steel mini measuring spoons. (affiliate link) The “smidgen” spoon is = a “doonk” or 1/32 tsp.
- Level off (flatten) the stevia in the doonk by smushing or scraping it against the top of the bag…don’t use heaping doonks. A tiny bit extra adds a LOT of extra sweetness, so you want to be as accurate as possible. This stuff is VERY concentrated and VERY powdery as you can see, and a LOT sweeter than other stevias…possibly twice as sweet? Which brings us to the next tip…
- Always err on the side of ‘less’ with any stevia, but especially with the THM stevia! It’s far easier to add more than to take out ‘too much’. Start with the least amount recommended in the recipe and then taste as you go. If the sweetness is not quite there, add a bit more. The main rule with learning to use stevia is this: test, taste, adjust. 🙂 You’ll get so much more comfortable in being able to ‘eye it’ down the road once you find your happy place with stevia.
- Stir WELL. Nothing is worse than noshing down on a clump of undissolved stevia. So stir your concoctions well. The THM stevia does dissolve well but it can also be a little hydrophobic and clump in liquids at first. You’ll want to stir vigorously to make sure it’s well incorporated.
- Add a pinch of salt: if you get a “hollow” sweetness that is not pleasant, I find that adding a pinch of salt helps a lot. I’d go so far as to say *always* try a tiny pinch of salt in any stevia recipe. It makes that much of a difference. If you really love specific measurements, then I’d do a half a doonk of salt for every doonk of stevia. Taste, test, adjust.
- Don’t start with chocolate recipes! Start out sweetening things like ice tea and yogurt. Both really meld beautifully with the sweetness profile of stevia. Here’s a favorite of mine:Recipes with cocoa are much more challenging as stevia isn’t as good at covering the bitterness of cocoa…I reserve my THM Sweet Blend (or any blend of stevia and erythritol or xylitol) for recipes featuring cocoa powder, and had to change brands of cocoa to fall back in love with chocolate baking. (I love Rodelle cocoa– Amazon affiliate link, but I buy it at Costco)
If you’re a chocoholic, and you just can’t love the stevia versions, try a couple squares of 85% chocolate as your fix while you get the hang of chocolate recipes.
- Go a tad sweeter…there are times when you want to go a *little* past “perfect” sweetness level. Heat & certain ingredients tend to dull the sweetness of stevia. This is why I always taste a bit and go a little past the pleasant point if you’ve got any of those factors going on:
- heat: baking or cooking a recipe makes it “need” a bit more sweetness
- added fats/oils or gluccie: this dulls the flavors a bit, and you’ll need more sweetness to compensate.
- cocoa: the bitter flavors of cocoa are not masked well by stevia alone. I recommend a blend, and using a bit more (especially if you’re heating/baking the recipe)
- DON’T give up! Stevia has such different properties than ‘regular’ sugar, that it can be frustrating to make the switch at first. Give yourself time. Your taste buds will adjust, and before you know it, you’ll be sweetening things with confidence, it will feel second nature, and you’ll be rejoicing in the benefits of your healthier lifestyle!
Did I cover all of the tips? What’s your best tip for just getting started with stevia extract?
Favorite Stevia Recipes
Here are some of my favorite “just starting out with stevia” recipes:
To pin these tips!