Making homemade Pandan Extract is very easy, but let me tell you my secret to get the vibrant green color with a strong pandan flavor.
Indonesia surely has a comprehensive list of recipes for delicious desserts. Many of the sweets are produced with abundant tropical produce such as coconuts and rice flour. We also love to use pandan as ubiquitous vanilla in Western desserts to enhance baked goods and sweets. Some desserts would just use the leaves for the taste and aromatic fragrance, while you can find the other in bright green hue color specifying using Pandan Extract for both the taste and color.
Pandan Extract can be bought from the traditional market, baking supply, or grocery store. However, let me tell you that the homemade one will taste so much better than the artificial one. If you have access to fresh or frozen pandan leaves, follow my recipe, and try making your own extract at home.
Pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius) are long and slender green leaves of a member of the pandanus palm or screwpine family. The plant is grown in South and Southeast Asia. They are popular in Southeast Asian cooking as the leaves impart aromatic notes to foods. They are also used as a natural food coloring, especially for desserts because of their green color.
Similar to vanilla, the unique aroma of pandan leaves is used to flavor many desserts. However, it should also be noted that pandan tastes nothing like vanilla. Pandan’s flavor profile is indescribable, which is not like anything else. The fresh leaves of pandan taste are sorta grassy and nutty. They are most commonly infused with coconut milk to create those delicate notes with a staunchly tropical taste.
Tips for Making Pandan Extract
1. Use mature pandan leaves
To make the recipe at home, choose mature pandan leaves, which usually have a darker green color in color compared to the young ones. The darker they are, the desserts will be more fragrant and greener.
2. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces
You can either use a mortar and pestle or blend using a food processor to make this pandan extract. As pandan leaves are extremely fibrous, you need to cut them into smaller pieces before you throw them in the blender.
3. Mix with suji leaves for the darker green color
The extract made from pure pandan leaves will result in a pale green color dessert with intense pandan flavor. To get the signature darker bright green color, I usually mix pandan leaves with suji leaves (Dracaena angustifolia). Suji leaves look quite similar to pandan, but they do not have a sweet fragrant aroma like pandan leaves and they give darker natural green color to foods than pandan leaves do. So, when I substitute half of the pandan leaves with suji leaves, I get a darker green color, but the pandan taste is not as intense as the one made from pure pandan leaves.
The Ratio of Pandan Extract
This is the ratio of pandan and suji leaves I come with:
20 pandan leaves for pale green color extract and intense pandan flavor
10 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract with less intense pandan flavor
20 pandan leaves and 10 suji leaves for darker green color extract with intense pandan flavor
The amount stated is actually the minimum amount you need to make the recipe works. In fact, you can add more leaves to create a darker and more fragrant extract. You can play with the ratio of pandan and suji leaves as you wish to get the desired flavor and appearance. Add more pandan leaves more intense pandan flavor while adding more suji leaves for darker green color.
Use Pandan Extract to Make These Recipes
Now you have learned how to make Pandan Extract at home. You can especially use it to make the following recipes.
- Pandan Coconut Ice Cream
- Klepon / Onde-Onde (Pandan Glutinous Balls with Palm Sugar Filling)
- Putu Ayu (Steamed Pandan Coconut Cake)