I've mentioned before that sweet and sour tastes are a bit tricky for me to get. Sweet tastes are the most challenging, at least if I don't want to get sick.
I have two sweet things I can eat that are completely safe: stevia leaves and fruit. The fruit, I have to grow myself or get it from the safe farmer of mine, who doesn't grow much fruit. The stevia I grow myself. So stevia is usually my one choice - thank goodness I'm not allergic to anything in the Sunflower family or I'd lose that too, eek!
Now, I'm not a big fan of stevia, but I'm getting there. I'm planting the stuff all over my yard so I can harvest more and use it year round, eventually. Or at least dry it and use it year round.
The easiest way I've found for me to use this stuff is to make a sweetened tea out of it and add that to foods I want to sweeten.
1. Boil some water, put a ton of stevia leaves into it after it boils, and let that sucker steep until it gets cold. Strain the leaves out and squeeze them to get the last bit of liquid, too.
2. Add this liquid to your recipe until desired sweetness.
3. The more stevia you add to the water before steeping, the sweeter it gets and the less liquid you have to add in the recipe. I haven't yet figured out what the saturation point is for this stuff, but I'm sure there comes a point where you don't get any more sweetness in the water no matter how much more stevia you add. My stevia plantings aren't large enough for me to experiment with this yet, but I'll update when I figure it out.
So, this is simple, but it's nice to use for sweetening, say, homemade sorbets, smoothies, and other drinks. It would probably work for homemade pastries and such that have added water required, although I haven't tried it in that regard. Maybe for dairy or coconut-based drinks and desserts, too.
There is a licorice aftertaste if there is too much of this sweetener. It used to be quite strong to me but I've become accustomed to it now. However, there seem to be a percentage of the population who experience another taste with stevia, where the licorice taste is stronger and has a very bitter quality to it. This is not the same taste and they don't like it; it actually seems to be a different taste entirely. Very interesting.
Although slightly frustrating, too, as my son seems to be one of these people and abhors stevia in all its forms. :-P
3/7/13 - I have now found a way to make stevia syrup, which sounds even better than my somewhat weak attempts at a sweetener, LOL. It can be found here: http://learningtocookalloveragain.blogspot.com/2013/02/stevia-syrup.html