How to extract tamarind juice Wash the tamarind

Tamarind (or sampalok in the Filipino language) refers to the fruit of the Tamarindus indica or to the tree itself. The fruit is used as the base for soups, stews and sauces in many Southeast Asian dishes. You will find tamarind listed among the ingredients of dishes from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of the region. Unlike citrus that need only to be cut and squeezed, the traditional way of extracting the juice from the tamarind is to boil it in water and to mash the fruits to squeeze the pulp. It does entail work so a lot of people opt for the more convenient tamarind paste in jars or the powdered soup base for cooking sinigang. I used to but not anymore. I extracted the juice from a hundred grams of fresh tamarind today to cook a pot of dinuguan. Cover with water

The first thing to do is to wash the tamarind to make sure that it is clean before it goes into the pan. Boil the tamarind in water

Place the washed tamarind in a pan and cover with water. Boil until the skins burst, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl

Transfer to a large bowl with half of the cooking liquid. Mash with a fork

Mash the tamarind with a fork. If you have a vegetable masher, it will make the job easier. Strain the juice

Strain the juice into another bowl. Add more of the boiling liquid

Place the strainer with the tamarind over the bowl and pour in the rest of the cooking liquid. Mash and force the pulp through the strainer

With the tamarind submerged in liquid, mash once more, forcing as much of the pulp through the strainer. Strain once again

Strain once more. Tamarind juice

And you have your tamarind juice.

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

19 Responses

  1. Cherleen says:

    Nangangasim ako!

    I remember ganyan ginagawa ng Nanay ko dati nung bata pa ako pag nagluluto siya ng sinigang. Those were the days when sinigang extracts were not in the market yet.

    And yes, why not try doing it again? Para naman mapakinabangan ang makalt na puno ng sampalok namin. Hindi yung tagawalis na lang ako ng dahon niya araw-araw! lol

  2. Rose says:

    I would imagine that powdered tamarind doesn’t have quite the same taste, do you find the same for tamarind in a jar? I use blocks of mashed tamarind (like this one:, it still needs to be soaked and strained. I’m using tamarind in a jar currently since it’s a lot less work and I don’t really taste any difference. Then again, I don’t usually use tamarind as a base for most of the stuff I cook, just as last-minute flavour.

  3. Connie says:

    Cherleen, you know, the texture is different when you use fresh tamarind juice especially in sinigang. And there is something about the seemingly mindless mashing and straining that is soooo relaxing.

    Rose, the tamarind paste in jars are okay but they’re rather expensive here. My kids like their sinigang really sour and to achieve that, I use half of the contents of the jar. Haven’t tried those tamarind blocks yet. Will check if I can find them here.

  4. Haley says:

    You are always creating such interesting dishes! I learn something new every time I visit your blog.

  5. Nikita says:

    “And there is something about the seemingly mindless mashing and straining that is soooo relaxing.” — this made me smile. it’s really a matter of mindset. I think the reason they made instant sinigang mixes is people felt all the mashing was too much work. :-)

  6. Connie says:

    When you read and write most of the day, you tend to crave for an activity that does not require too much analyzing. For most people, it means watching TV or just lying down. Doesn’t work for me. When I watch TV, I still tend to analyze. And when I lie down and do nothing, same thing. It’s worse, in fact, because my mind races. When I pick up a book, still the same thing. Cooking… heck, that’s recreation. So long as hubby and kids aren’t screaming, “Hungry na kami!!!!” hehehe

  7. misao says:

    hi mss. connie… i agree with you about cooking as recreation.

    pagfeeling ko, mababaliw na ako with work or studies, angry/frustrated about something, or plain bored, i would go down to our kitchen and play. be it kneading dough (very relaxing), slicing some fruits for a refreshing salad, the smell of baking cookies or pounding meat with a mallet.

  8. Connie says:

    Misao, I think the aromas have a lot to do with the relaxing feeling. A natural aromatherapy!

  9. Crisma says:

    Besides teaching us all the creative ways of cooking—you are also teaching us the value of being industrious, of not being tamad or relying on short- cuts, tempting as they are, in this fast-paced world. And for that, sobrang thank you again, Connie. You are teaching us that if we want to achieve the real essence of any dish (like sinigang, or dinuguan) we have do labor and enjoy doing it too. And yes, you are right about that again— that cooking is recreation. In my case have turned down several instances when my hubby wants us to just dial the number for pizza delivery—in truth sometimes he says naawa na raw siya sa akin sa kakaluto ko— but then I said, he doesn’t have to pity me kasi for me cooking is FUN! ;)

  10. Maria says:

    I remember when I was younger, in the Phillipines, I use to mash the tamarind for sinigang. When we came to the states, we started using the sinigang mix, which later on I found out that it has MSG. I would prefer to go back to the old fashion way of using ffresh tamarinds. Does anyone know where in Los Angeles i can buy fresh tamarinds? Thanks…

  11. emy M says:

    Maria,I don’t think you can buy fresh
    tamarinds good for sinigang in LA.Seafood
    City now carries frozen tamarind that you can
    make juice out of,like Connie has demonstrated.
    This is late but I hope you’ll find it

  12. Alisa says:

    I remember when the commercial for the sinigang mix came out…”sampaloc ay iyong nilalaga, pinipiga, sinasala..” they made extracting tamarind juice look like tedious work, and the sinigang mix was the answer to our prayers. Im glad you made this…goodbye sinigang mix!

  13. Jean says:

    How much tamarind do you normally use to prepare a pot of sinigang for 5 people? And do you use the native tamarind or the thai one being sold in the big supermarkets? Your blog is wonderfully informative! :)

    • Connie says:

      Yes, native. The amount depends on whether the tamarind pods are large or small.

      Sinigang for five people would be around 1 kilo of meat; I’d say anywhere from 1-1/2 to 2 c. of tamarind would yield enough juice for a tasty broth.

      • Jean says:

        Thanks Connie!! I’ll definitely try doing it the natural way. My family loves sinigang but we’ve been using powder mixes all this time.

        • Connie says:

          You’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes when you use fresh tamarind juice. :)

  14. Dugald says:

    Thanks for the great description!

  15. Arlette Samaniego says:

    I want to buy tamarind juice (retail sale). Do you know where? Tahnk you.

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