::Used plant part::
Leaves, always used fresh (slightly withered). Even in their native area, pandanus leaves are often replaced by an extract that also contains green food colouring.
Pandanaceae (screw pine family).
The leaves's aroma is distinct and hard to describe, somewhat nutty, reminiscent to fresh hay and definitely pleasant. A similar scent is found in some aromatic rice varieties grown in South East Asia (e.g., Thai jasmine rice).
The scent of pandanus leaves develops only on withering; the fresh, intact plants hardly has any odour.
The flavour component of pandanus leaves is not well known. It is speculated that the flavour is due to a volatile product of oxidative degradation of a yellow carotenoid pigment that forms only when the plant whithers. In that respect, there are similarities to saffron and rose, which also contain caroteniod-dervied aroma compounds.
The best candidate is 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which was found in pandanus leaves at levels of about 1 ppm (Cereal Chemistry, 70, 381, 1993) and which also occurs in aromatic rice cultivars; another possibility is ethyl formiate, which is also common to rice and pandanus leaves (Naturwissenschaften, 71, 215, 1984).
Yet another study found 3-methyl-2-(5H)-furanone as main volatile compound in pandanus leaves, besides 3-hexanol, 4-methylpentanol, 3-hexanone and 2-hexanone (Flavor and Chemistry of Ethnic Foods, [Proceedings of a Meeting held during the 5th Chemical Congress of North America], Cancun, Nov. 11-15, 1997 (1999)).
The leaves also contain piperidine-type alkaloids (pandamarine, pandamerilactones) with pyrroline-derived structures (Phytochemistry, 34, 1159, 1993)
Pandanus utilissimus, a species native to Madagascar, with unripe fruit.
On distillation, the leaves do yiels traces of an essential oil, but it is unclear to which extent the volatile oil contributes to pandanus' flavour. In Sri Lankan pandanus leaves (Pandanus latifolius, allegedly synonym to P. amaryllifolius), the following aroma components have been identified in concentrations less than one microgramm per kilogramm (ppb) fresh material: styrene 0.62, ?formylthiphene 0.76, linalool 0.29, β-caryophyllene 0.55, β-farnesene 0.18, 1,2-dimethoxybenzene 0.15 and β-selinene 1.24 ppb. (Phytochemistry, 21, 1653-1657, 1982)