How to Make Pandan Juice and Pandan Extract

Pandan leaves are special leaves that are really important in the cooking of Southeast Asia. People use them to make food taste and smell nice. As I did too many dishes with these leaves, I think there should have a post to introduce this amazing ingredient. We will find out where they come from, why they are so important in cooking, and how different cultures use them. Let’s discover why they are so interesting in Southeast Asian food, and how to make pandan juice/ pandan extract for cooking.

What are Pandan Leaves

Pandan leaves are like long, green ribbons that come from a special plant called Pandanus amaryllifolius. These leaves have a unique aroma and flavor that make them special in cooking. Because of the pleasant aroma and vibrant green color, people use them to color the desserts and replace vanilla.

Pandan leaves
Pandan plant

These leaves are mostly found in Southeast Asia, which includes countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. That’s where they grow naturally. I remembered my mom bought a bunch of leaves home in special occasions, made juice from it and used the juice to make syrup, mung bean milk, mung bean milk tea, Vietnamese steamed layer cake (banh da lon), Vietnamese tapioca dessert (che bot loc), Pandan Rice Cake (Banh duc la dua). It also dyed foods such as glutinous rice balls (che troi nuoc) and many more, like a natural coloring.

Thanks to the wonderful characteristics of pandan leaves, nowadays they are exported worldwide and applied not only in Southeast Asian dishes but also many more, eg. Pandan Belgian waffles, Italian panna cotta, French macarons or Chinese mantou.

Nutritional Benefits

Inside those long, green pandan leaves, there are some really good things for your health. They have vitamins, minerals, and natural stuff that is absolutely healthier than artificial food coloring. So, when you use pandan leaves in cooking, you’re adding a little bit of goodness to your food.

In some places in Southeast Asia, people use pandan leaves as a kind of medicine. They believe that these leaves can help with certain problems in the body, like when your tummy doesn’t feel good or when you have pain. According to Eastern medicine, pandan leaves are used to treat many diseases such as: joint pain, gout, cough, bronchitis and stabilizing blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes.

When you eat food that has pandan leaves in it, you’re not just making your food taste better; you’re also getting some healthy stuff. While they may not work like magic, they can be part of a meal that’s good for your body and taste.

Glutinous rice balls
Green glutinous rice balls dyed by pandan extract

Moreover, these leaves can be applied in beauty care, according to Southeast Asian women. During the scorching summer months, immersing oneself in a bath infused with pandan tea can effectively soothe sunburned skin. Otherwise, you can create a nourishing hair treatment by boiling clean and chopped pandan leaves, and let the water concentrate overnight. Mix this concentrated solution with three tablespoons of coconut water and use it for a scalp massage and hair wash. This natural remedy can promote a lustrous hair. Mixing the solution with regular shampoo can help treating dandruff and preventing hair loss.

Making Pandan Juice And Pandan Extract For Cooking

There are three methods to leverage all the benefits of pandan leaves in cooking.

  • Method 1: Direct method. You can use the whole leaves to roast or simmer with other foods and ingredients, like roasting glutinous rice with chopped pandan leaves, or boil with milk to add fragrance to it. I like to decorate drinks, like pumpkin milk, with fresh pandan leaves too.
pumpkin milk
Decorate drinks with pandan leaves
  • Method 2: Making pandan juice. With pandan juice, it’s easy to dye dough, from rice, glutinous rice to wheat flour dough. Add pandan juice directly to mung bean paste and milk mixture to make mung bean milk. Other than that, you can boil pandan juice and make tea with it, then add to mung bean milk to get mung bean milk tea. Pandan syrup is made by cooking this juice with sugar. Vietnamese steamed layer cake (banh da lon), Vietnamese tapioca dessert (banh phu the) all use the juice as an irreplaceable ingredient.
  • Method 3: Making pandan extract. For the extract, usually I use it for dying food naturally, together with beetroot. I love to dye snowskin mooncake, Vietnamese glutinous rice ball and Western dishes like panna cotta and bread.

Let me share you how to make pandan juice and pandan extract for cooking.

How To Make Pandan Juice and Pandan Extract

You’ll need:

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Steps to Make Pandan Juice

  • Prepare the Pandan Leaves: Wash the pandan leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Cut them into smaller pieces, around 2-3 inches long. This helps release their flavor and it’s also easier to add into blender.
How to make pandan juice and extract
  • Blending the Pandan Leaves: Put the cut pandan leaves into the blender. To make pandan juice, add about 2 cups of water and blend them together until you get a bright green mixture. To make Pandan Extract, don’t add water or just add 1 tbsp of water if the blender finds it hard to blend.
how to make pandan juice
  • Straining the Juice: Place a strainer over a clean bowl or jug. Pour the blended pandan mixture through the strainer to separate the liquid from the solid bits. You’ll be left with the pandan juice/ pandan extract in the bowl. You can use cheesecloth, or even your hands, to squeeze all the leftover to get more juices.
how to make pandan juice and extract
  • Chilling the Juice/ Storing: You can enjoy pandan juice right away or chill them for a while. Put it in the fridge with air-tight cover. To store the extract and juice for longer, label and freeze them up to 3 months.

Pandan Recipes Ideas

There are plenty of pandan recipes for you to try. The most traditional, typical dishes are Southeast Asian dishes. Moreover, think of pandan extract anytime you need a natural green coloring. Let’s try these with:

Pandan Juice

Pandan Extract for dyeing or adding aroma:

how to make pandan juice and extract

Making Pandan Juice and Pandan Extract

Yield: 500ml juice/ 10ml extract
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Let's discover why they are so interesting in Southeast Asian food, and how to make pandan juice/ pandan extract for cooking.

Ingredients

  • 10-15 Fresh or frozen pandan leaves
  • For Pandan Juice only: 2 cups of water

Instructions

  • Prepare the Pandan Leaves: Wash the pandan leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Cut them into smaller pieces, around 2-3 inches long. This helps release their flavor and it’s also easier to add into blender.pandan juice and pandan extract
  • Blending the Pandan Leaves: Put the cut pandan leaves into the blender. To make pandan juice, add about 2 cups of water and blend them together until you get a bright green mixture. To make Pandan Extract, don’t add water or just add 1 tbsp of water if the blender finds it hard to blend.how to make pandan juicehow to make pandan juice
  • Straining the Juice: Place a strainer over a clean bowl or jug. Pour the blended pandan mixture through the strainer to separate the liquid from the solid bits. You'll be left with the pandan juice/ pandan extract in the bowl. You can use cheesecloth, or even your hands, to squeeze all the leftover to get more juices.how to make pandan juice and extract
  • Chilling the Juice/ Storing: You can enjoy pandan juice right away or chill them for a while. Put it in the fridge with air-tight cover. To store the extract and juice for longer, label and freeze them up to 3 months.Pandan juice

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 500ml
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 48

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