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How to Make Pandan Juice from Pandan Leaves

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Pandan juice and pandan extract are used in many Asian pastries. Pandan is a leaf that imparts a beautiful green colour and a bread-like fragrance that compliments both sweet and savoury dishes. Some people even enjoy the taste of it as a cool, refreshing beverage. Maybe you’re unable to find pre-made extract where you live, or you want to make your own natural version free of any additives or colourings. Either way, you can follow this recipe for an easy way to make it from scratch using fresh or frozen whole pandan leaves.

What You’ll Need

Besides water, you will only need one other ingredient for this recipe: pandan leaves.

Pandan is a plant native to Southeast Asia that has a distinctive smell, redolent of bread or pastries. The natural compound found in pandan that is responsible for this odour is called 2AP (2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline). 2AP is also found in foods like jasmine rice, basmati rice, and bread—to give you an idea of the flavour. Both the fragrance of pandan as well as its bright green colour are beloved in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillippines, Thailand, Vietnam.

Where to Find Whole Pandan Leaves

Pandan leaves can be purchased from many Asian supermarkets. I bought mine at T&T here in Canada. You might have to do some close searching to find it because the name could be something else. Pandan goes by many, many other names, including screwpine, rampe, annapurna, 香蘭 (xiang lan), and lá dứa.

I found pandan labelled “La-Dua” in the refrigerated produce aisle at T&T Waterloo. (It only seems to be there some weeks.) In T&T Calgary, I found packages of frozen pandan leaves in the same place as other Filipino ingredients like cassava and ube.

fresh la dua pandan from T&T
Fresh pandan at T&T, sold as la dua

If you buy them frozen, they may come pre-rinsed and pre-sliced, but I still prefer to give them a quick rinse.

How to Use Pandan Juice

To start with, you can substitute it for water in any bread or cake recipe. Pandan will give baked goods a nice light green hue and a slightly fragrant taste. Because it’s quite subtle, it will be okay in just about any recipe because it won’t steal the show.

I’ve used it to make adzuki bean buns, crazy cake, and a coconut swirl loaf. My mom has also used it to make a pandan cassava cake, a popular Southeast Asian dessert. Something about those flavours, pandan and cassava, work so well together.

And of course, who could forget about the notoriously difficult honeycomb cake which relies on pandan for its eye-catching colour?! This is one dessert I haven’t attempted yet, although it is on my to-bake list.

What to Do with The Pulp

Sadly, the pandan leaves themselves are inedible, but don’t worry. If you’re wondering what to do with the pulp, you can mix it into your potting soil. I’m using it as a fertilizer for my herb plants!

Something else I’m planning on trying next time is to put the pulp in one of those portable tea infusers and put it in the pot next time I make rice. It’s common to put whole pandan leaves in with cooking rice to give it more of a fragrance. (Did you know the chemical responsible for pandan’s smell is the same one found in basmati and jasmine rice?) I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with pandan pulp.

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homemade pandan juice from scratch
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5 from 4 votes

How to Make Pandan Juice from Scratch

You can make homemade pandan juice from fresh or frozen pandan leaves!
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 1 1/2 cup (120 mL)
Calories: 13kcal
Cost: $2.00

Ingredients

  • 100 g pandan leaves fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup water 60 g; see Note 1

Instructions

  • Rinse each pandan leaf thoroughly. Pandan is a little like leek in that they can hide a lot of dirt in between the leaves, especially towards the stem near the bottom.
  • Chop off the pale white stem area if that's included on the plant and discard, leaving only the dark green leaves.
  • Chop the leaves into small segments, about an inch long.
  • Add leaves to a high speed blender along with the water.
  • Blend on high speed until very smooth. (I use the Smoothie mode on my Blendtec which is perfect.)
  • Pour the juice a little at a time through a fine-mesh strainer into a container. Use a spatula or spoon to press down the pulp to fully squeeze out every drop of juice. Use the pandan juice as is, or see Note 2 for instructions on making "pandan extract."

Video

Recipe Notes

  1. We are making a fairly concentrated pandan juice, so I suggest a roughly 2:1 ratio of pandan to water by weight. If you want a more dilute juice (eg. for drinking), feel free to add a lot more water.
  2. Because we are making pandan juice from pandan leaves with basic home cooking tools, it will be hard to concentrate the product enough to match commercial pandan extract. However, if you leave pandan juice in the fridge overnight, you’ll see it separate into a colour gradient: some of the sediment will have settled to the bottom resulting in a darker green. If your recipe calls for pandan extract, you can pour off the paler liquid at the top and use just the darker concentrated stuff, though you will need to use more of it.
  3. I recommend finishing the pandan juice within two nights, or it will start acquiring the “off” taste of wilted veggies.

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