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Has anyone used the buddha's hand fruit?

Our coop just started carrying what they call "Buddha's hand." It looks like a yellow hand or maybe more like an octopus with yellow tentacles. If you scratch it just a bit it's very fragrant. Supposed to be a source for homemade citron. Our coop started stocking them right before the holidays as something exotic. They are fairly large but also very expensive. (About $19 for one.) It would probably make sense to share one of these with someone or use them for gifts.

Has anyone used these at all? What are good uses for citron that are not too sweet?

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  1. I thought of buying one - for use as a center piece and conversation item. It is mostly skin and pith, so you would be using it mainly for the fragrance.

    I have vague memory of someone using it on a recent Iron Chef America episode, though all that comes to mind is slices of the 'fingers'.

    paulj

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      I just saw some in the grocery store for the first time today. It seems that the fruit is mostly good for impersonating lemon zest, and as an air freshener. Hence, I think I might hang one from the rearview mirror in my Beetle. If I don't get a ticket or get accused of hanging someones hand from my mirror, then it should make my car smell great! Maybe it would also make people less likely to want to break into my car. ,)

      1. re: lisanaillon

        HA!!! I will think of this the next time I see these at the coop!

    2. Here is a link to a good recipe for candied buddha's hand citron:

      http://www.sanfranciscofoodie.com/scr...

      I've made marmalade from buddha's hand using a standard orange marmalade recipe (I think it was from JofC). I cut the fruit into quarters and grated on a coarse grater, holding the base end of the fruit. Since buddha's hand contains no juice to speak of, I used grapefruit and lemon juice.

      I've had limoncello made with buddha's hand, but I didn't make it. I would guess that you could sub it for lemon in any limoncello recipe.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Non Cognomina

        I made some "buddhacello," and yes, I just used a limoncello recipe and substituted the buddha's hand zest for the lemon zest in the recipe. It turned out pretty well -- it has a very distinct aroma. (My sister may have further comments, since I gave her a bottle for Christmas.) The basic recipe (adapted from a recipe I found here: http://hedonia.seantimberlake.com/hed...) is:

        about a quarter cup of grated citron zest
        1 750 ml bottle of 100 proof vodka
        2 cups sugar
        2.5 cups water

        Put zest and vodka in a glass container, cover tightly, and let steep for about two weeks. When time is up, make a syrup using the sugar and water. While it's cooling, strain solids out of vodka using a fine mesh strainer. Then strain again through cloth. (Note: cheesecloth is too coarse; I used rags torn from an old white cotton bed sheet. Be sure to wet the cloth before you start. This step can take a while, but it's worth it to get all the sediment out.) Add about half the sugar syrup to the infused vodka, taste, and keep adding until it tastes sweet enough to you (traditional limoncello is quite sweet, but yours doesn't have to be). Pour into pretty bottle(s) (e.g. the final container) and age for another two weeks.

        You can use this recipe to make liqueur from just about any citrus fruit, but you might want to increase the amount of zest for less aromatic fruits such as tangerines.

        1. re: jlafler

          It's delicious -- it does have a distinct, floral aroma and flavor.

          1. re: jlafler

            We grow Buddha Hand, and I've made Buddhacello. I separated the zest from the pith and infused them separately (to see how the pith portion tasted) in Everclear for a long time. The pith infusion tasted good, so I combined them. The resulting Buddhacello is flowery and wonderful. The next time, I'll just grate up the whole hand, and not worry about limiting it to the zest.

            After infusing, I took the left-over pulps (both zest and pith) and pureed them. I pressed out any remaining alcohol for the Buddhacello , and use the pulp for other things, like a marmalade or to add a citrus note to baking, salsas, sauces, etc.

              1. re: smash

                I saw the Buddha Hand once and would like to grow it. Any tips on how to grow it? Any ideas where to get it?
                Thanks!
                Rick

          2. I only became familiar with Buddha's hand through Hangar One Vodka. They have a variety called Buddha's Hand and it is my favorite "citron" vodka. I have never used one in cooking.

            1. The wiki article says the pith is not bitter, so sections can be use whole or diced like zest to add flavor and aroma. In Asia it is used for its perfume. Another article says limited pulp is quite acid.
              paulj

              "You don't really want to cook with this thing. Use it as a centerpiece to perfume a room, astound the mailman or scare small animals and children."
              http://www.post-gazette.com/food/2003...

              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                You really DO want to cook with this thing, actually.
                Shave it for salads, add it to anything lemon(think, Shaker Lemon Pie), put it up in vodka(thank you, Hangar One), marmalade, tagines, candied peel. All these things and more.
                It is delicious, rare and special. Use it for decoration, but then cook with it, please!

                1. re: rabaja

                  How well does it keep? Apart from making marmalade and candied peel, most uses only require a small part at a time.
                  paulj

                  1. re: paulj

                    you can get them in all different sizes, and they will last the longest when kept refrigerated.

              2. I saw them for the first time around Thanksgiving at our local Fresh Market. At $7 I thought it was a bit expensive; so at $19, it sounds exhorbitant. The produce manager told me they're mostly used as conversation pieces; their usage mostly as you would lemon zest.

                1 Reply
                1. re: zook

                  Buddha's hand fruit looks like a lemon that was adopted by a family of carrots and forced to grow underground. Click on image here to the left.

                   
                2. The Chez Panisse fruits cookbook has a recipe for shaved citron/Buddha's hand salad that looks interesting.

                  1. $19??? My word. I haven't seen them since I left NC in September, but there they were 7.99.

                    I don't knokw what to use it for, but I'd expect that it is, like others say, for fragrance mostly. Good luck!

                    1. I candied some whole in sugar syrup and packed on each in a wide mouth jar and sent them in this years Christmas boxes!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: OCEllen

                        Whole candied ones must have looked very dramatic in jars! Very creative idea.

                        1. re: karykat

                          They do! Great fun and tasty. I'll do some simpler candied kumquats in about a month - my tree is loaded with big ones!

                          1. re: OCEllen

                            Did you soak and/or blanch the citrons before candying them? I slice Buddha Hand, simmer it in syrup for 15 minutes, wait 24 hours, and simmer again for about 20 minutes to 230 degrees. Then I set the pieces out on silpats to dry. I never blanch mine to "remove the bitterness." There is residual bitterness in the finished product, but I like it. I don't think Buddha Hand needs all that heavy-handed blanching like some of the other, really bitter citrons. I'm just curious what other people do.

                            1. re: mikael3

                              reviving this thread, hoping for more info on whole candying of buddha's hands

                              toodie jane, there's a recipe for while candied kumquats in David Lebovitz's Room For Dessert

                              1. re: pitu

                                rather, for WHOLE candied kumquats
                                : )

                            2. re: OCEllen

                              recipe pleaase for candied kumquats? :- )

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                Rinse and dry kumquats and in each poke a small hole with a pin, end of a paper clip or some such as this prevents them from 'exploding' during the cooking process. Cook whole in a syrup of about 1:1 sugar to water - ie. one cup sugar to one of water - until translucent. Put in sterilized jars and process about ten mins. in a water bath to seal - jars that don't seal should be refrigerated - for best storage. Method and magic - tested!

                        2. Thanks everyone. I have no idea why the ones at our coop should cost so much more. Could it be that they are organic and therefore more? I'm going to check our local Whole Foods.

                          Thanks for all the great ideas. It's hard to imagine using THAT much peel, but marmalade and that Chez Panisse salad sound like some good options. Or sharing one with someone else who wants to experiment.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: karykat

                            Actually, Whole Foods was where I saw the 7.99 ones, so that should be a good bet for you. Their prices are often high, but sometimes, because they are so large, they get good deals on exotic stuff like this.

                            I wonder if they'd make good preserves of some kind.

                            1. re: alysonlaurel

                              Buddha's Hand Citron is great in creme brulee, too. It has a sweet spiciness (kind of jasmine topnotes and some kind of fruitcake spice undertones) that blends really well -- I use it where I want the brightness of citrus without the overt character of lemon.

                              Buddha's Hands are notoriously unpredictible in keeping. If you get a fresh one, it might last for two weeks, just sitting out...or, you may come back after two days to find it completely covered in white fuzz. I find it's best to keep them in the fridge, in a container that breathes (brown paper bag, or just sitting out). You can cut off the moldy parts and use the rest, and because most Buddha's Hands have sweet pith, you can use the whole fruit.

                              Buddha's Hands are extremely frost-sensitive, so while native to China, in the US they are mostly grown in California's Central Valley, near Fresno. Whole Foods is probably able to offer such a great price because they can buy in bulk, for multiple stores. We (I work with Hangar One) purchase them wholesale from farmers for $3 each.

                              1. re: taqsim

                                Fantastic idea and great background. Thanks much.

                              2. re: alysonlaurel

                                I think they would make fabulous marmalade. Since you would be using all the rind. You would probably have to add other juice from lemons or oranges or something, since they wouldn't yield much.

                                1. re: karykat

                                  I have now made two batches of BH marmalade. I did not add juice (except for 2 tsp. of lemon juice for a little more brightness and acidity to help it set); the boiling water was enough liquid. For one batch I added some Campari, and for the other batch, I added some Amaretto.

                                   
                            2. They are available in the winter from one of the vendors at my local (southern Cal.) farmers' market. Last year I put slices of the peel into a bunch of granulated sugar, and left it there for a week or so to flavor the sugar. I then removed the slices and discarded them (though in retrospect I bet they would have tasted delicious), dried the sugar in a very low oven, and re-pulverized it in the food processor. I have used the fragrant sugar through the year for various sprinkling purposes -- tart fruit (blackberries -- mmmmm) and waffles, for instance.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ozhead

                                What a great idea. I have a Buddha hand tree in my front yard in Palm Springs & hate letting them go to waste, so I'm always looking for ways to use them. Trying the limoncello recipe right now.

                              2. ooh, it's such a lovely find! I LOVE the buddha's hand citron!

                                I make it into a flavored vodka, much like the limoncello recipe (and, no offense, hangar one, the homemade one's much better). I wash it, peel the rind in strips, twist them strips to make sure the oils get loose, and drop in a vodka container (better to use one with a wide mouth so you can take out the strips before it gets bitter) and store it in a dark, cool place for about 3-4 weeks. It's SO awesome. Recently I've been putting it over ice with 7-up and yuzu juice form the japanese market.

                                I've also infused vodka this way with the etrog citron (only available after the jewish holiday of sukkot) and calamani fruit (available fresh seasonally at phillipino markets). Soon I want to try the skin and leaves of kaffir limes. or maybe kaffir limes with lemongrass and coconut milk. Mmm...

                                1. I recently used one as a table decoration for a fancy dinner. Just sliced off one end to make a flat surface for it to sit on, and voila! Cheaper than flowers, and the smell is more compatible with food.

                                  1. I am looking for a good source for the Buddha Hand fruit. Is it possible to purchase from your coop? We use it for marmalade. Very tasty.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: dougsbbq

                                      I've seen them at Whole Foods, near the turnips (oddly).

                                    2. I just bought one at whole foods near Boston

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                        I recently bought one at my local Meijer store for $3.99