Stevia In The Raw

I was at my grocery store this afternoon, picking up a few things, when I noticed a new package with the other sweeteners in the baking supplies aisle. It was Stevia In The Raw, from the same people who have, for all these years, produced Sugar In The Raw. I won't use Sugar In The Raw -- see the part about "it's sugar." I don't care how "raw" it is (which it ain't), sugar is sugar, and it's all hard on my blood sugar. But this looked new, so I picked up the bag.

Turns out it's the same bulking agent as is used in Splenda Granular -- maltodextrin -- mixed with stevia extract instead of sucralose. Like Splenda Granular, Stevia In The Raw is formulated so that the blend roughly equals sugar in sweetness, and can be measured the same. Since one of the big difficulties with using straight stevia extract is that it's way, way too sweet to use easily, leaving the cook to figure out what quantities to substitute for sugar in recipes, this is -- at least from the recipe adaptation standpoint -- a step in the right direction.

However, it must not be overlooked that maltodextrin is sugar. Refined sugar. Indeed, it is pretty much the same thing as glucose. The label says "under 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon." Since sugar is 4 grams of carb per teaspoon, that's a big improvement, less than 1/8th of the carb count of sugar. Still, don't fool yourself that this stuff is carb-free. I'll count it like granular Splenda -- 24 g per cup. Not terribly high, but enough to pay attention to.

What about flavor? I tried a pinch of the stuff straight, and I found it harsh, with the same bitter zing I always have disliked in straight stevia extract. In a batch of sugar-free ketchup, however, it tasted fine. Since I just bought the stuff today, further experimentation will have to wait, but I'm guessing, from that taste of the straight product, that it will work better in some things than in others, and that, in particular, it will be better in recipes where the concentration is not too strong.

Another thing to remember: Like granular Splenda, Stevia In The Raw will give neither the bulk nor the volume of sugar. Your recipes will be smaller in volume -- the package says to use baking pans 25% smaller than usual -- and won't have the moistness, gooiness, or browning that sugar brings. Like Splenda granular (or Splenda in the packets, or liquid sucralose, for that matter), Stevia in the Raw will best be used in applications where, in the original high-carb recipe, sugar is not the main determinant of texture.

I'm not making many desserts currently -- I'm recovering from recipe development, trying to knock off a few pounds -- but as I try this stuff, I'll let you know how it works.

One more point: I am still unconvinced that stevia is automatically superior to sucralose because it is natural. I have repeated it till I am blue in the face (or in the keyboarding hands): Natural is no guarantee of safety. Many of the most toxic substances in the world are 100% natural. I do not mean to suggest that stevia is dangerous. I'm just immune to the argument that stevia is particularly wonderful because "It's natural!" However, if you do prefer a natural sweetener, or are in some way sensitive to sucralose, this one seems worth a try.

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Stevia in the Raw

I am a diabetic who is allergic to splenda/sucralose and aspartame. I started using stevia in the raw which is ok for my coffee and tea. However is sucks @$$ when used in baking. It is sooo bitter! How do you get that bitter taste to go away. For instance, I tried making my favorite no bake cookies using stevia in the raw instead of sugar. It was just horrible! I even tried adding salt and increasing the vanilla but nothing seems to take that bitter taste away. Any ideas on how to fix the bitterness?

Stevia in the Raw

I'm not a fan of Stevia in the Raw; I, too, found the flavor less than wonderful. The only stevia I've found easy to use is the liquid extract. I have several in the house -- a plain (just sweet) one by NuNaturals, French Vanilla, Chocolate, and English Toffee by NOW, and Lemon Drop by SweetLeaf. I use these quite a lot.

In baking, I find a combination of erythritol or Swerve (a new erythritol-based sweetener) and stevia works well -- I use e-tol or Swerve for 50% of the volume of sugar called for, and make up the rest of the sweetness with the stevia extract.

You could also use xylitol in place of the e-tol. A lot of people really like x-tol, but I skip it because it's *seriously* poisonous to dogs, and I have three. It's apparently wholesome for humans, though, and actually good for your teeth, so if you have no dogs it's a good option.

Hope this helps!

Truvia

I've been using Truvia for at least a year and LOVE it; even more, since I found it in bulk. I save the packets for my purse, and use bulk at home. I can tell it doesn't mess with my blood sugar like regular sugar (I use organic raw for all but the biggest baking projects).

I was really annoyed by "Stevia Plus" which has additives that require you vigorously stir hot drinks WHILE pouring it in, otherwise it clumps up and doesn't do the job. Forget cold drinks: it won't even mix. I won't buy any Stevia w/ additives other than what Truvia contains (erythritol and rebiana).

I'm considering growing Stevia, this year or next. You have to order plants; it's apparently very difficult to grow from seed.

maltodextrin

interestingly enough, I've seen several products that contain malto dextrin and they are calling it a fiber. next time I spot one I'll write it down so I can pass on the info.

Stevia in the Raw fan

I have been making your Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Splenda and last week tried substituting Stevia in the Raw (the form that comes in the big bag). What I found is that the stevia makes the coffee cake noticeably sweeter! That didn't make sense to me since it does have that terrible, bitter taste, but two other people who ate some of the cake agreed! It also makes the coffee cake a bit more "cakey". Just thought I'd pass the info along.

Excellent Product

I've been using Stevia in the Raw for almost a year now. Love it!

Stevia vs. Splenda

I use Truvia, a brand of stevia and the package says each "pack" contains 3 carbs. I'm assuming that these carbs count towards my daily total. Is that correct? If so, doesn't that make it not so good for cooking as a substitute for Splenda?

BTW, made your oatmeal cookies this weekend. They are wonderful!

Truvia

According to the label, Truvia contains erythritol and a stevia extract, plus "natural flavors." I'm pretty sure those carbs come from the erythritol. Of the polyols (sugar alcohols), erythritol has one of the lowest absorption profiles -- you actual absorb almost none of it. Accordingly, I don't count it. This is in contrast to maltitol, the polyol most commonly used in commercial sugar-free sweets -- you absorb a little more than 50% of maltitol; I count half the grams listed on the label.

Hope this helps.

Stevia in the Raw

Thanks for your comments! I've seen this in the store but hadn't tried it yet.