Homemade Stevia Extract

“Stevia leaves and stevioside are virtually calorie-free, beneficial in the prevention of cavities and do not trigger a rise in blood sugar. They are not only safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics, but in some countries stevia leaves are even prescribed as a medicinal substance for these conditions because they normalize pancreatic function and thus aid in the metabolism of sugar.”
Weston A Price Foundation: Sugar-Free Blues: Everything You Wanted to Know About Artificial Sweeteners

ek stevia extract Homemade Stevia Extract

It has taken me a long time to discover a way to make a stevia extract that is sweet but without the unpleasant aftertaste.

“The whole stevia leaves contain a number of beneficial compounds, including ascorbic acid, calcium, beta-carotene, chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, sodium, thiamin, tin and zinc.”

Stevia is an excellent sweetener for people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. It tastes incredibly sweet but some people dislike the aftertaste. I’m one of those people so I’m not a fan of stevia. Nevertheless, I have family and friends with blood sugar issues. It has taken me a long time to discover a way to make a stevia extract that is sweet but without the unpleasant aftertaste.

Normally, when making plant extracts infusions take 4-6 weeks. This does not work with stevia. The trick to making a nice stevia extract is to only infuse for less than 24 hours. During the infusion process, taste the extract every few hours. If the extract starts getting a foul taste, note the time and stop the infusion process. This method will produce a very sweet extract without the nasty aftertaste. I have also found that using homemade vanilla extract as the alcohol base improves the flavor greatly.

1tsp organic stevia powder
1/4c Homemade Vanilla Extract or organic vodka

Add the stevia powder to the homemade vanilla extract and let the stevia infuse for no more than 24 hours. Longer infusions will bring out the unpleasant aftertaste. I don’t normally filter extracts but with stevia filtering is needed to avoid pieces of plant material staying in the extract and fouling the taste. So, filter the extract to remove any stevia powder. A coffee filter or cheese cloth will work well. Decant the stevia extract into a bottle with a dropper for convenient use. Add some more straight vanilla extract if you find the stevia extract too sickly sweet.

stevia extract 2 Homemade Stevia Extract

Use a coffee filter or damp cheese cloth to filter out the stevia. Filter a second time, if necessary. I’m still not a fan of stevia but this extract with vanilla is pretty good.

“When applied topically, the stevia leaves also fight acne and speed wound healing while also reducing the formation of scar tissue.”

You can grow stevia at home. If you are looking to purchase, there is a local farm that grows stevia. They attend the Kamloops Farmer’s Market:

Suede Hills Organic Farm
Phil and Cindy Levington
6049 Thompson River Dr, PO Box 513, Savona, BC, V0K 2J0
T: 250.373.0191, C: 250.682.1188
certified organic STOPA farm no.166: organic stevia powder, alfalfa powder, pet supplements, worm castings

Homemade Broth Powder

broth powder Homemade Broth Powder

This homemade broth powder is a good camping or travel food. Adding some healthy fats to the broth will make this drink very nourishing and sustaining.

“Nutritional yeast is an excellent natural source of B complex vitamins (except for B12) plus a variety of minerals. Look for yeast that has been processed at low temperatures.”
Weston A Price Foundation: Guide to Superfoods

Commercial broth powders, bouillon granules or cubes are filled with some very questionable ingredients. These ersatz foods are among some of the worst industrial foods available. Making your own broth powder is a easy way to say “No!” to a boatload of food additives while still having access to a convenience food. With homemade broth, no one has to pay for convenience with their health.

This homemade broth powder is a good travel food. The powder can be used by itself in hot water or with bone broth. A cup of broth is tasty with 1-3 teaspoons of coconut oil, creamed coconut or butter. Add some extra nutritional yeast or fermented miso, if desired.

1c organic shiitake mushroom powder
1-2T sea salt
1-2T organic sage, finely ground
1-2T organic nutritional yeast, finely ground
1-2T wildcrafted dulse, finely ground (optional)
1 organic birdeye pepper, finely ground (optional)

In a spice grinder, finely grind the sea salt, sage, nutritional yeast, dulse and hot pepper into a very fine powder. In a bowl add the mixture to the shiitake mushroom powder and mix very well. Use 1-2 tablespoons of powder for each 2-3 cups of hot water. Adding some healthy fats to the broth will make the broth very nourishing and sustaining.

Vanilla Coconut Pudding

coconut pudding Vanilla Coconut Pudding

Coconut pudding is a quick and easy dessert filled with healthy fats.

This recipe originally came from Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats by Dr Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell. The addition of homemade vanilla extract and vanilla seeds gives this pudding a delicate flavor.

2c hot water and 1c cold water
1c dried organic coconut flakes
big pinch of sea salt
1/4c organic creamed coconut
2T homemade vanilla extract
2-4T organic coconut oil
1T local honey
1tsp organic cinnamon, sprinkled (optional)
vanilla bean seeds (optional)

Bring the 2c waters to a boil. Add the coconut flakes and sea salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. At the end of the cooking, melt in creamed coconut. Remove from heat and transfer to a Vitamix machine or food processor. Add the vanilla extract, coconut oil and honey. Blend until the mixture is very smooth. Add the 1c of cold water and blend again. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl. The homemade vanilla extract and vanilla seeds gives the pudding a very delicate favor. Top the pudding with a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired, but I like the pudding best with just vanilla bean seeds.

Let the pudding cool overnight in the fridge. The pudding may separate into a hard top and a liquid bottom. This separation doesn’t happen when using the Vitamix machine. If the pudding does separates using a food processor, just stir before serving. The pudding can also be eaten warm for breakfast or quick snack.

vanilla extract 3 Vanilla Coconut Pudding

If you look carefully you can see the tiny vanilla bean seeds in the coconut pudding. Delicious!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is very easy to make but does require a bit of time. Making vanilla extract uses the same technique as making any other extract.

vanilla extract 1 Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract was the first extract I ever made. It opened the door to making all kinds of  food and medicinal extracts.

1 part organic whole vanilla beans, chopped or split
4-5 parts organic vodka

There are a number of ways to prepare the vanilla beans. One is to cut the beans into small pieces before adding them to the vodka. This method gives a very strong vanilla flavor to the extract very quickly. The vanilla bean pieces can be minced up and used in desserts. Another way is to cut the bean in half and carefully split the vanilla beans down the middle. Splitting the vanilla bean lengthwise takes longer to make an extract but it’s easier to remove the vanilla seeds later.

To make vanilla extract, use a small pint-sized glass canning jar with a plastic lid. Put the vanilla beans into the alcohol. Ensure the vanilla beans are completely immersed in the alcohol. Label the jar as vanilla bean extract. Put the percentage of alcohol, today’s date and the decanting date. The vanilla extract will be ready for use in six weeks but the extract can be used before that day. DO NOT throw out the vanilla beans after making the extract. Use the whole vanilla beans in desserts.

The whole vanilla bean pieces can be removed from the extract and added to ice cream or desserts after being finely minced. Some people prefer using only the seeds. Splitting the beans down the middle makes it easier to remove half of a bean from the extract and scrape off the seeds. The vanilla seeds can be scraped from the whole, half bean using a sharp knife. If you have never used vanilla bean seeds for ice cream or desserts you are in for a treat.

If you run out of vanilla extract just add more vodka to the remaining vanilla pieces. The second extract will be less potent but it can save a trip to the store.

vanilla extract 2 Homemade Vanilla Extract

There is a second product that comes from making homemade vanilla extract. Splitting the vanilla bean lengthwise allows for easy scrapping of the vanilla seeds. Vanilla seeds are an amazing addition to ice cream and desserts.

vanilla extract 31 Homemade Vanilla Extract

Here’s some vanilla seeds in Coconut Pudding. Vanilla seeds are also delicious in ice cream.

If you would like more recipes on making medicinal extracts please see Healthy Household: Staying Clean Safely.

Healthy Household: Frankincense Liniment

“Embroctions or liniments are used in massage, with the herbs in a oil or alcohol base or a mixture of the two. Absorbed quickly through the skin, they can readily relieve muscle tension, pain, and inflammation, and speed the healing of injuries.”
Kitchen Medicine: Household Remedies for Common Ailments and Domestic Emergencies by Julie Bruton-Seal

frankincense 1 Healthy Household: Frankincense Liniment

Frankincense Liniment can also be rubbed over a swollen joint or muscle. To protect clothing, put a layer of shea butter or Frankincense Salve over the sticky resin.

I have been very frustrated trying to make Frankincense Liniment over the last few months. For my first attempt in making liniment, I tried using 40% alcohol (80 proof). Unfortunately, the alcohol wasn’t strong enough to crack the resin. The resulting liniment was of poor quality and didn’t work very well. I was very disappointed but not surprised.

Most herbalists recommend using 95% alcohol (190 proof) to crack any of the tree resins. Unfortunately, in British Columbia the Ministry of Morality has banned the sale 95% alcohol. I guess the BC government sees the citizens of BC as just too reckless to have such a powerful product available for sale.

My alcohol problem was solved by a busman’s holiday to Alberta. I don’t know if the Alberta government is wise or reckless but in Alberta, 95% alcohol is available for sale. So I stocked up with three bottles of Everclear which is enough 95% alcohol to produce liniment for years of household use.

I wanted to warn anyone that wants to make Frankincense Liniment or any remedy using tree resins about this problem. Unfortunately, you will need to make a trip to Alberta or the US to get an alcohol strong enough to crack resins. I’m angry that we must incur the inconvenience and cost of driving to Alberta or the US to get Everclear for making liniment but until the BC government lifts the ban on the sale of 95% alcohol we have no other choice.

frankincense liniment 2 Healthy Household: Frankincense Liniment

On the left is unprocessed frankincense resin tears. On the right is the resin tears after six weeks in 95% alcohol. Any remaining resin can be processed into liniment by adding more alcohol and decanting the liniment after six weeks.

“Frankincense is especially suitable for conditions where the joints and muscles are very stiff, swollen, and painful. It is also often used topically more than myrrh.”
Chinese Herbal Medicines Comparisons and Characteristics by Yang Yifan

Frankincense Liniment or Tincture
1 part wildcrafted Frankincense resin
3-4 parts 95% alcohol (190 proof) Everclear

One more point about liniments. Many liniments are made with methanol which is not safe for internal use. As I have stated before, I do not put anything on my skin that I would not consider safe to ingest. So, this liniment is made with ethanol. It can be used internally. I have no personal experience using frankincense internally but thanks to the internet there is information available about the safe, internal use of frankincense for those people interested in that use.

Have caution when working with resins. Resins are messy and sticky. Use a glass container that will only be used for that type of resin or use a container that can be thrown away after use. It will be impossible to clean the glass container after cracking the resin. The cracked resin will stick to everything it touches and once the resin dries it will produce a very hard, varnish-like coating.

Once you have acquired some 95% alcohol, this liniment is very easy to make and is just like any other tincture. Put the frankincense resin in a glass container that will only be used for this resin or can be thrown out after use. Add the 95% alcohol to the frankincense and seal the jar with a lid. Label the jar as frankincense resin. Put the percentage of alcohol, today’s date, and the decanting date. Decanting day will be in six weeks. The jar will need to be stirred every day for at least the first week. Use a stirring stick that can be thrown out after use or carefully swirl the resin tears in the alcohol.

On decanting day, carefully pour off the liquid into a glass bottle. Use a glass bottle that can be discarded or reused for more liniment because the resin cannot be cleaned out of the bottle. (Reusing a Green Pastures’ glass bottle works well.) Likely, you will still have resin tears at the bottom of the glass container. Add more 95% alcohol and repeat the process.

Frankincense Liniment can be used in a number of ways. It can be dabbed on wounds as a disinfectant with a cotton swab. The resinous quality of frankincense makes the wound waterproof and acts like a medical adhesive and normally doesn’t need dressing. If a dressing is required, add a layer of shea butter* or Frankincense Salve after the alcohol has dissipated to avoid the wound sticking to the dressing.

The liniment can also be rubbed over a swollen joint or painful muscle. It is best applied after a hot bath or a hot compress. A cotton ball or folded piece of tissue paper works well for application to a larger skin area.** To protect clothing, put a layer of shea butter or Frankincense Salve over the sticky resin after the alcohol has dissipated. The waterproof quality of the resin will allow bathing between treatments. The pain relieve from this liniment can be felt almost immediately. Ice the area as normal.

For more information about frankincense please see:
Homemade Christmas: Frankincense Oil and Frankincense Salve

*I would highly recommend shea butter. I use shea butter in a number of homemade personal care products. Shea butter is especially good as a moisturizer for mature skin.
**Cotton balls or tissue paper covered in frankincense resin makes an excellent, sweet smelling fire starter.