Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sugar Free Lemon Strawberry Italian Soda with Stevia Sweet Juice Concentrate

by Kay Curtiss

Are you one that doesn't like the taste of Stevia?  Try this before you write it off -- Stevia Sweet Juice Concentrate (SJC).

Never heard of Stevia Sweet Juice Concentrate?

I hadn’t either but I saw a blog post about it on The New Lighter Life Blog (NLL).  It’s basically a simple syrup that has “fermented” and the bitterness is gone. It's so easy to make and have on hand.

Are you ready for it?  Are you sure?  Ok here is what you need . . .

Stevia SJC (Sweet Juice Concentrate)

2 cups filtered water
1/2 Tbsp Pure Stevia Extract

Pour pure stevia extract into a pint jar (I used a mason jar which holds the perfect amount of liquid), add water to jar and mix.  Let the jar sit uncovered for 48 hours on your countertop.  After 48 hours, cover jar with lid. This can be stored in your refrigerator or you can leave it on your counter up to a week, depending on how fast you use it.  Note from NLL blog:  I’ve had mine sit out for a week with no ill effects.

The amount of SJC you need depends really on your preference.  Start with little and work up.  You can always add more.  Stevia is sweet and SJC can be overwhelming.

Note from the NLL blog:  Also, I was completely out of SJC and about 36 hours into the fermentation of a new jar.  I tried my batch at that point and it just didn’t taste right.  I don’t understand the need for 48 hours but can attest to the necessity of the fermentation time.

Initially it is a little cloudy but it ends up being completely clear by the time your Stevia SJC is ready to use.

That's it!  I've used Stevia for a few years and it's been fine for me but I wanted to try this for some other applications that I think it would work like the SUGAR FREE LEMON STRAWBERRY ITALIAN SODA that I've been anxious to try after seeing Chef Todd make the Lemon Peach Italian Soda in the Thrive it Up Cooking Show. Here is Chef Todd making the original version:

Here's the nutritional information for Chef Todd's Lemon Peach Italian Soda:

I made up some Stevia SJC and it worked wonderfully in my Sugar Free Version!  I also used Strawberries instead of Peaches - I think any of the Thrive FD Fruits would work great.

FD - Freeze Dried
Thrive product numbers are for Pantry size cans

2 cups Thrive FD Strawberries (#22344)
1 1/2 t. Thrive Classic Lemonade Powder (#22899)
2 cups Stevia Sweet Juice Concentrate**
1 t. vanilla extract
Soda Water
Whipping Cream

To make the concentrate, add strawberries to blender or food processor and puree into powder. Add 2 cups Stevia SJC, vanilla, and mix well.  Add water to make 3 cups.  Makes about 3 cups concentrate.

For each soda, add ¼ cup of the syrup with ½ cup ice, ½ cup soda water, and 1 tbsp. cream to a glass. Stir well to incorporate.

Here's the nutritional information for my Sugar Free Lemon Strawberry Italian Soda:

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