When baking with pandan, I would normally use store-bought pandan paste instead of freshly-squeezed pandan juice. This is because fresh pandan leaves are not available here and often times, the frozen pandan leaves that can be found in most Asian stores are of such subpar quality that they are just not worth using. Once in a blue moon however, I might be able to get decent frozen pandan leaves (ones that haven’t sat on the freezer shelf for months on end) and what I mean by “decent” is that the leaves are actually still fragrant (and yes, I can actually smell the floral pandan fragrance through the air holes of the package even though the leaves are still frozen, and that’s how I know the leaves are “fresh”).
Anyways, I actually managed to get a couple packages of these super “fresh” frozen pandan leaves a couple of weeks ago and decided to try making pandan paste with them. Although I find store-bought, bottled pandan paste to be an acceptable substitute (beggars can’t be choosers) and extremely convenient, I would (if given a choice) prefer not to consume the artificial coloring that can be found in the bottled paste. The process to extract the paste isn’t complicated but it does take some time and effort. So is it worth it? I only managed to get about 3 measly teaspoons of pandan paste out of a package of pandan leaves. However, I have to say that it is so TOTALLY worth it! The flavor is exactly like if you use freshly-squeezed pandan juice, but using the paste instead of the juice allows you use it in your recipe without having to adjust the liquid content. And the important thing is that whatever you make with it, the item will be naturally flavored and colored…and that is always a good thing! :D (Stay tuned for my next post if you’re interested to see the result of using homemade pandan paste in my Pandan Chiffon Cake recipe and for more info on pandan, read about it in my Whole Grain Pandan Butter Cupcakes post.).
Note: I first read about this process in the Table For 2….. or More blog1 (7-ounce) package frozen pandan leaves 3 cups water
Defrost pandan leaves (just leave the package on the counter for an hour or so). Then, trim off the roots, white and light green parts, as well as the thorny tips. Rinse the leftover dark green leaves and cut them into small pieces (about 1″). Combine the leaves and 1 cup water in a blender, and blend on high speed until mixture is combined and leaves are finely minced. Pour mixture through a sieve set over a jar or bowl, and squeeze the finely minced leaves to extract the juice. Place the pulp back in the blender and repeat the process with the remaining 2 cups water, one cup at a time. Once you have collected all the juice, line a large sieve with one basket-style coffee filter and set it over a large bowl. Pour the juice into the sieve, cover tightly with a plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the water from the juice has drained away and only a paste-like pandan residue is left. Gently scrape the paste off the filter with a spoon and store it in a covered container in the fridge for about 1 to 2 weeks. Use in place of store-bought paste.