Introducing the "Green Grass Jelly" Plant

Most Singaporeans are familiar with the grass jelly dessert which is black in colour and made from the plant,Mesona procumbens. This dessert is popular in China and various Asian countries including Singapore.

The process of making this dessert, called 'chinchow' (spelt 'cincau' in Malay), is somewhat complicated as the plant material is usually dried first before it is boiled in water containing potassium carbonate. The decoction is allowed to cool and set into a jelly.

In Indonesia, a green version of this dessert can sometimes be found. Known most commonly as "Cincau Hijau", or green grass jelly, the dessert is made from a plant that is botanically known as Cyclea barbata. A member of the Menispermaceae family, the plant is a slender vine with a hairy stem and spade-shaped leaves. The mature plant sometimes develops a tuberous root. The tiny flowers of the Cyclea barbata plant are borne in round clusters which collectively grow on a pendulous branched stem.

In the garden, this plant is best grown in a sunny and well-draining location. It should be well-watered and is relatively pest- and disease-free. It is, however, not a common plant in Singapore. Propagation of new plants is achieved via stem-cuttings but with some difficulty. The nursery at the National Parks Board is in the process of propagating this plant. Look out for it in future gardening bazaars held in HortPark! Like the common black grass jelly, the green grass jelly makes a refreshing dessert on a hot day and is best served chilled. It has medicinal properties and is used traditionally to treat stomach complaints and high blood pressure.

How to Make Green Grass Jelly (serves 4 to 6 persons)

Ingredients needed:

  1. 50 mature cincau leaves (harvested from lower parts of the vine)
  2. 50 g of white sugar
  3. 1.5 litre boiled water (cooled to room temperature)

Steps:

 1.    Soak leaves in water at room temperature for 10 minutes.

2.    Remove the stiff leaf stalk from each leaf.

3.    Rinse the leaves twice under running water. Then, rinse the leaves one last time using boiled water cooled to room temperature.

4.    Cut the leaves into small pieces.

5.    Blend the leaves, white sugar and boiled water using a fruit juice blender.

6.    Sieve the solution twice.
  

7.    Pour the solution into serving containers, such as, small cups according to your preference and allow the jelly to set inside the refrigerator.

By Dr Wilson Wong & Vicky Lim

Total Comments: 12

Janice 8/16/2012 9:24:57 AM

Hi, How i can get this plant? Can i try to plant it?

Febri 10/16/2013 2:47:43 PM

I used to have the plant... But it died :< I called it camcau though...

Hadi Prijanto 2/3/2014 7:11:13 PM

Could you give us more information regarding to green grass jelly plantation? We highly appreciating for your generous help and information, tkuvm.

Patricia 10/2/2012 1:17:26 PM

I intend to grow this plant. Where can I buy the stem cutting?

sydneyroosters 9/17/2012 5:28:41 PM

Hi, how much water did you add to the blender? I see the ingredients state 1.5L, but some of it was used to rinse the leaves in step 3? I tried this today but it was too dilute... Thanks

Li-San 2/13/2014 10:42:13 AM

Hi Hadi, <em>Cyclea barbata</em> requires a brightly lit place to grow well. It can be grown under semi-shade outdoors, but the soil needs to be kept moist if it's exposed to full sun outdoors. The plant requires moist, well-draining and fertile soil to grow well. Propagation, however, is tricky from NParks' experience - the success rate of stem-cuttings is low.

Li-San 7/17/2014 10:27:25 AM

Hi YC, The plant can be purchased from some of the larger nurseries.

Syanti 4/29/2014 1:05:50 PM

Contact me for cuttings: syantitjoa@gmail.com

Lisan 10/4/2012 11:15:25 AM

Hi Patricia, You can try Hua Hng/World Farm at 15 Bah Soon Pah Road, but you may want to contact them first to see if they have stocks before going down. Similarly, you can contact other large nurseries to see if they carry these plants.

Lisan 9/20/2012 9:43:36 AM

Hi Sydneyroosters, The total amount of water prepared is 1.5L, but the exact amount of water added into the blender could vary as the water was added little by little to avoid diluting the mixture.

Ng Y C 7/16/2014 9:18:37 PM

Now 2014, has NP managed to cultivate this plant? Otherwise is it easily available now?

Bob 8/8/2014 9:22:24 AM

Does anyone happen to know the best growing conditions for Cyclea barbata, especially the best soil PH? Thanks!
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