How To

How To Make Homemade Pandan Juice & Pandan Extract


At the mention of pandan, what comes to your mind?
Heavenly, aromatic, yummy kuihs and cakes. Right?
Pandan chicken? Oh yeah!

Pandan or also known as screwpine is one of South East Asian prized flavoring treasures. In Malaysia, we simply called them as pandan, pandan leaves or daun pandan (in Malay). I’m really proud of our pandan leaves. Besides using pandan mainly as flavoring agent in baking and cooking, you can also use pandan as coloring agent.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to make pandan juice from scratch for the looooooongest time. Because I never make any desserts requiring pandan juice (actually more like I skipped them because I always thought making pandan juice is hard work), the learning process never takes place. Well until I decided to learn how to make chiffon cake that is. More precisely pandan chiffon cake. I know I can’t escape this time. Tsk, turns out making pandan juice is not as hard (or scary) as I imagined it to be.

Homemade Fresh Pandan Juice
Freshly squeezed homemade pandan juice is DA best! ๐Ÿ˜
Not for drinking ya.

Let’s learn to make pandan juice & pandan extract (concentrated pandan juice):

First thing first, if you don’t have a pandan plant at home, you should (referring to Asian weather). It’s easy to take care with 96% survival rate based on my personal statistic. I grow my pandan plants in a pot and also in garden bed. The one that grows in garden bed has larger leaves sizes and produces many pandan babies. Both are placed at shaded areas with plenty of morning sun. They grow well on full sun area too. I water at least once a day. Even on days I don’t water, they still look amazing. That’s how cool pandan is. ๐Ÿ™‚

Homegrown pandan plant:

Pandan Tree
My pandan plant on garden bed which has grew into three adults pandan bushes and many babies (not visible from this angle). Young pandan leaves are light green in color and thin. They grow and become matured pandan leaves which are green or darker green and thicker in texture. Old pandan leaves are those that are near the soil, really dark green in color and extremely fibrous.

If you don’t have pandan plant at home, where can you get pandan leaves?
In Malaysia, you can get them in wet markets (pasar besar or pasar borong). The market in my town sells pandan in bush form (like in my photo above). Yup that’s right. There are also pandan leaves in packet form found in sundry shops and supermarkets. They are usually kept in the fridge/cooling area for freshness. Then there’s also the option of getting pandan leaves from your relatives, friends or neighbours. ๐Ÿ™‚

Picking the right pandan leaves:

To make pandan juice and pandan extract, use matured pandan leaves. When you’re picking matured pandan leaves, look for the young light green leaves. Matured pandan leaves are those located right after the young leaves. Pick those. You’ll need 10 pieces.

I read from one blog that suggested using young pandan leaves. For comparison and education purpose, I’m going to make pandan juice and pandan extract using both young and matured pandan leaves. At the end of this post, I’ll let you know which one has better aroma, color, etc.

Young & Matured Pandan Leaves
Here’s a comparison between young and matured pandan leaves. The colors are very different.

Trim & rinse:

Thorns On Pandan Leaf
Just look at this thorny tip. Be careful when picking the leaves. Use a pair of scissors and cut the tip to get rid of the thorny part (itches the hand if you squeeze juice by hand). I didn’t use my hand to squeeze the juice but I still get rid of the thorny part because I don’t like the look of it. Haha

Pandan Leaves
Also snip off the whites at the base of the leaves (they are quite bitter). Then you can rinse the leaves to get rid of dirt. You don’t have to let the leaves dry thoroughly since you’ll be adding water later on.

Making of pandan juice & pandan extract:

Cut The Pandan Leaves
Use a pair of scissors and cut the pandan leaves around 1cm-2cm length into the blender. Because pandan leaves are fibrous, they can wear your blender’s blade. So cut as thin as you can (even less than 1cm if you prefer). But because I’m a wild child ๐Ÿค˜, mine is usually between 2cm-3cm. Tsk, you can also choose to use a knife to slice the leaves. But I prefer scissors as I have one less thing to wash (cutting board) and because I can just cut the leaves and fall right into the blender.

Young & Matured Pandan Leaves
Here’s another comparison between young and matured pandan leaves. You can see the differences in colors and thickness of the leaves.

Ready For Blending
In this photo, I’m using 20 pieces matured pandan leaves. For 10 pieces of leaves, the level will be half of this.

Add a cup of water (200ml/200g) and blend the leaves. For how long? Around 1 minute give and take.

Note: If the recipe calls for less amount of pandan juice, I would advise you to start with about 100ml of water first.

Blended Pandan Leaves
Beautiful ๐Ÿ’š pandan pulp!

Pour Through Fine Strainer
Pour the pandan pulp through a fine strainer. You can also use muslin/cotton cloth for straining. I find using this fine stainless steel strainer is good enough. Use the back of a spoon to press on the pulp to get the juice out.

Squeezed Pandan Pulp
Squeezed dried pandan pulp.

If you want, you can blend this pandan pulp again with another cup of water. You’ll get a lighter shade of pandan juice. Use it for recipe requiring pandan juice or you can make pandan extract from it as well. I usually blend the pulp once only because I have no other uses.

I don’t discard the pulp into rubbish bin. Instead, I use them as compost for my plant.

Homemade Pandan Juices
Fresh homemade pandan juices. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the left is pandan juice made from matured pandan leaves (darker in color) and on the right is pandan juice made from young pandan leaves (lighter in color). Because matured and old leaves will absorb more water compared to young leaves, I’m guessing that’s the reason why the pandan juice quantity made from matured leaves is less (by a tiny bit) compared to pandan juice using young leaves.

There is also suggestion in the web to use santan (coconut milk) instead of water for blending (if the recipe is using santan). If you’re doing this, make sure you prepare enough quantity of santan since the santan liquid can be absorbed by the leaves.

Use this pandan juice to make pandan flavored cakes (chiffon, layered cake), kuihs (kuih talam, onde-onde, serimuka, kuih dadar), kaya, jelly, green jelly noodles for cendol, waffle, ice-cream and many more.

Pandan Juice
Extra: This is pandan juice made from 20 pieces matured pandan leaves and 250g water.

Continue reading… to find out how to make pandan extract:

Extract means a preparation containing the active ingredient of a substance in concentrated form. ~ source Google

So yes, pandan extract has the same meaning as concentrated pandan juice.

I never knew we can make pandan extract until I chanced upon Wendy’s concentrated pandan juice blog post.

To make pandan extract, follow the exact steps in making pandan juice. Once you’ve the pandan juice in a glass, cover with a lid or cling film and leave it in the fridge for few days. Don’t place the glass at the fridge door as frequent movement will slow down the separation process (huh? read on and you’ll know why).

I use the pandan juices from matured and young pandan leaves which I made earlier (jump to two photos above) to make pandan extracts.

Making Pandan Extract From Pandan Juice
Here’s the progress 8 hours later. The pandan juice made from matured leaves has not changed but for the juice made from young leaves… you can see a clear separation. The dark green sediment at the bottom of the glass is pandan extract!

Pandan Extract Made From 10 Pieces Young Pandan Leaves
Here’s a clearer view.

Half-Done Pandan Extract Made From 10 Pieces Matured Pandan Leaves
This is the pandan juice of matured leaves 33 hours (1 day 9 hours) after putting it in the fridge. Still work in progress. It’s beautiful though, right?

Pandan Extract Made From 10 Pieces Matured Pandan Leaves
Pandan extract made from matured pandan leaves done after 55 hours (2 days 7 hours).

How To Get Pandan Extract
To use the homemade pandan extract, slowly pour out the upper layer into a bowl. The pandan extract looks glossy and slimy, like when you squirt green watercolor paint from the tube.

Btw, don’t throw away the upper layer. Smells it. It still has that lovely pandan aroma. You can add this to red bean soup or even cendol or barley. And if you’re making another round of pandan juice, why not use this light green liquid instead of water? Good idea, right?

Pandan Extract Made From 20 Pieces Matured Pandan Leaves
Extra: Pandan extract made from 20 pieces matured pandan leaves. To view the photo, start at top left and going clockwise. It took 88 hours (3 days 16 hours) to get the layers separated. Actually it’s not really done yet if you want to be more perfect but I could wait no more. ๐Ÿ˜›

It only takes 8 hours to make pandan extract from young pandan leaves while it takes 55 hours for matured pandan leaves. Both using 10 pieces of leaves. It took me 88 hours to make pandan extract out of 20 pieces of matured leaves. From this test, I can conclude that using matured pandan leaves for making pandan extract needs more days of waiting. I’m not sure if there are other factors involved such as how fine you blend the pulp. All I know is the sediment of matured pandan leaves take longer to sink.

Since making pandan extract needs couple of days of waiting, make sure you make the extract few days in advance. Remember to use only matured pandan leaves.

Storage of pandan juice and pandan extract

I store pandan juice and pandan extract exactly using the glass shown in the photos in this post and cover with cling film in the fridge. You can also store in plastic or glass container with lid.

Remember: If you store pandan juice too long, it will become pandan extract after a few days… which is not really a bad thing. Win-win situation.

How long can they be kept?
Pandan juice and pandan extract can be kept as long as they doesn’t smell rotten. I have one kept only for like 5-6 days and another one going over a week.

Can I freeze pandan extract?
No! Don’t ever freeze it.

I tried freezing pandan extract (thinking I can keep them longer) and here’s how it looks like after defrosted:

After Freezing Pandan Extract
It looks normal (maybe just a little weird). I had poured out most of the upper layer before putting in the freezer.

After Freezing Pandan Extract
I poured the extract into a bowl. Not looking good with very very faint pandan aroma.

Disintegrated Pandan Extract After Defrosting
I added the extract to santan (coconut milk) because I was making chiffon pandan cake. Look at all the disintegrated (separated) greens?

Disintegrated Pandan Extract After Defrosting vs Good Pandan Extract In Coconut Milk
A comparison with the evergreen freshly made pandan juice mixed with santan (background) and the ill-looking defrosted pandan extract mixed with santan.

So yeah, remember don’t freeze it!

Compare, compare, compare

Below is a comparison table between pandan juice made from matured leaves and young leaves (using 10 pieces of pandan leaves each).

Pandan juice from matured leaves Pandan juice from young leaves
Color darker green lighter green
Smell strong; has that distinct pandan aroma weak to mediocre pandan aroma
Taste has pandan aroma, quite bitter very little pandan aroma, little bitter
Used in chiffon cake lovely pandan aroma, darker cake color extremely light pandan aroma (almost non-existence); lighter cake color but by not much

Tsk, you don’t have to worry about the bitterness. Once you add sugar, the bitterness will be gone.

Conclusion

Pandan juice made from matured pandan leaves win hands down. They provide the best pandan aroma and beautiful green color. I asked my grandma about her pandan tips (just to test her out hehe; I know I’m nottie) and she also suggested using matured pandan leaves. ๐Ÿ™‚

Between using freshly made pandan juice and pandan extract, I recommend using freshly squeezed pandan juice for best result. Your dessert will smell so much nicer with fresh pandan juice. I can attest to this because I made two pandan chiffon cakes using fresh pandan juice and pandan extract for comparison.

If you need large quantity of pandan juice or extract or extra ‘pandan-kick’, you can use 20 pieces (or more) of matured pandan leaves. Otherwise 10 pieces of leaves are usually more than enough.

Just a little extra more

If you have a booming pandan plant and not sure what else to do besides making pandan juice and extract, here are some ideas:

1. Use in cooking (pandan chicken, rendang, rice for making nasi lemak)
2. Decorate your home with pandan leaves in a vase.
3. Give your kitchen cupboards or drawers nice pandan fragrance. Tie 2 pandan leaves in a knot and place it in your cupboards and drawers.
4. Make pandan brush for greasing pans, cake moulds, satay and BBQ meat.

Hope you find this post useful. Let me know if you have anything to add.

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9 Comments

  • Reply foongpc May 29, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Oh interesting comparison between the young and matured panda leaves!

  • Reply foongpc May 29, 2016 at 1:46 am

    OMG! Did I write panda?!!! I mean pandan. PANDAN. Damn autocorrect! LOL

    • Reply Che-Cheh May 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      LOL ๐Ÿ˜† You are really a PANDA!!!

  • Reply Dawn June 10, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    This post reminds me of my growing up days in my family home in Ipoh. I still remember I have to cut the darker green pandan leaves, heaps and heaps of them, cleaned, cut up, and no blender then, so have to sit on the floor with pestle and mortar….tumbuk away with all the elbow grease I had! Finally use a muslin cloth, put bit by bit (cause no strength) and squeeze the juice out! Thinking back, dinosaur era! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Che-Cheh June 10, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Dawn, I kow tow you for using mortar and pestle to ‘menumbuk’ the pandan leaves. Super difficult.

      • Reply Dawn June 16, 2016 at 9:57 pm

        It was difficult but was told to suck it up no matter how much I hated doing it…those were the days before the existence of Bamix or any blender ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Reply Che-Cheh June 17, 2016 at 4:16 pm

          These are precious memories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply Valere December 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Wait, if pandan juice is better, then why the need for pandan extract?

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 28, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Hi Valere, good question! If you’re going to use it as coloring agent (natural color for icing or cake for example), pandan extract is the better choice since it’s more concentrated.

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