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  /  The ABCs of stevia

All You Need to Know About Stevia

Mar 20, 2017

What is Stevia?

Stevia is a plant native to Paraguay that has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries in South America. Japan began to replace artificial sweeteners with stevia in the early 1970s. Stevia has been referred to as the “holy grail” of sweeteners, but we will let you decide that. It is considered 250 – 400 times the sweetness of sucrose, is pH and heat stable.


What is Reb-A?

Reb-A (Stevia Extract) is an all-natural sweetening ingredient extracted from the stevia leaf that is used in powder or liquid form to heighten sweetening intensity and improve taste.


The stevia leaf contains a number of very similar compounds or steviol glycosides that are all sweet. The best tasting of these is Rebaudioside A. In its highly purified form, it has sweetness between 250 to 400 times that of an equal weight of sugar.

For Rebaudioside A, the R1 position is a single glucose molecule, the R2 position is two glucose molecules. If Rebaudioside A only had the same sweetness as sugar it would have much more calorific content than sugar. However, nature has produced a molecule that is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and therefore a very small amount is needed to sweeten a product meaning it contributes essentially zero calories.


What are glycosides?

Glycosides are a collection of organic compounds that form a simple sugar and play a myriad of important roles in living organisms. Glycosides occur in large quantities in plants. They are soluble in water and SGF extracts a number of glycosides from the stevia plants, that main extract being Reb-A.


How is your sweetener made?

Some portions of the process are proprietary, but the major steps in the extraction involve:


- Water extraction (dried leaf is placed in warm water and the glycosides dissolve in the water).
- Pressing the wet leaf to squeeze out the sweet juices.
- Fine mesh filtration to separate leaf organic material and sweetened water.
- pH adjustment precipitates out bitter tasting organics from sweetened water.
- Proprietary filtration and extraction to isolate the desired glycosides.
- Drying the final product (evaporates liquids used in extraction).


What is SGF's Natural Sweetener?

SGF sells stevia extracts. They are all-natural, high-intensity and zero calorie sweeteners derived from stevia leaf (Stevia Rebaudiana), the sweet and finest tasting part of the stevia plant. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) no objection notices for Reb-A sweetener use in food products in December 2008.

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