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.
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. 🙂
Homegrown pandan plant:
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. 🙂
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.
Trim & rinse:
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
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:
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 🤘, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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. 😛
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:
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.
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. 🙂
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.