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Jan 6, 2014 07:03 AM

So, I bought a this thing...

I periodically buy things at the grocery store even though I have never heard of them and have no idea what to do with them. Actually, scratch that. I periodically buy things at the grocery store BECAUSE I have never heard of them and have no idea what to do with them.

Today's example is a Buddha's Hand Citron. I could tell by the smell (and the name on the label) that it was a citrus fruit, but I mostly bought it for its striking resemblance to a head crab from the video game Half Life. Either that or a Cthulhu beard. Cheese Boy described it in a previous thread ( ) as 'a lemon that was adopted by a family of carrots and forced to grow underground'.

In any case, now I have a this thing and I'm searching and researching what to do with it, but I'm curious - do you buy random things at the grocery store just cause they're weird? Have you lucked into anything you really loved that became a routine part of your culinary repertoire? Anything truly heinous that you wish you could travel back in time and choose to not purchase?

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  1. They have them every winter at Whole Foods and when I researched it a few years ago or asked someone there about it or some such thing, I was told they are mostly used in table arrangements. Surely there must be more than that to it.

    There are so few things at the market that I haven't seen before, but there are many things I ate in Asia that are just not here, like custard apples. I am told they are too delicate to ship. Our large Asian market carries durian (no thanks), dragon fruit (yes and so beautiful!) and lychees (ok), but I can't say WF or other markets have had anything so exotic for sometime--fruit or veg.

    9 Replies
    1. re: sandiasingh

      We top strawberry shortcake with sliced strawberries and diced Dragon fruit when we can find it.

      Lychee we enjoy in every form as an alternative to fresh, canned or dried pear.

      So many ways to use these 'unusual' fruits.

      1. re: sandiasingh

        Buddha hand has the most wonderful citrus aroma and makes a fantastic extract or flavoured vodka. I chop one up with the least amount of pith and one month later, you have knock your socks off Madeleine, macaron, meringue puffs, and souffle

        1. re: Nevy

          I agree. Buddha's Hand infused vodka and gin is amazing. Slice super thin and let soak for as long as you can. The longer, the more floral it tastes and smells. I forgot about a half dozen jars and came upon then after two years of infusing. It blew me away, and I still have some left I serve to discriminating guests.

          1. re: Nevy

            Nevy, what do you mean "the least amount of pith"? The fruit is basically all pith.

            1. re: JMF

              I don't use the entire fruit when I create the flavoured alcohols. I try to slice it so it has a balance of peel and pith instead of 80% pith and 20% peel.

              1. re: Nevy

                The pith isn't bitter and has good flavor. You are losing a lot of good stuff by not using it.

                1. re: JMF

                  In my first trial, I used everything and I found it to have a note that was not pleasant. It was a bit bitter and overtly sour. My second attempt was to use less pith with the same vodka and it was more floral and delicate in comparison. Perhaps it was the fruit in my first trial but since then, I've had the better results with a balance of pith and rind.

          2. re: sandiasingh

            I do this all the time and I've had some fantastic discoveries. I mostly stick to fruits, cheese, and pastry/desserts. I crave fresh jackfruit now and I'm slowly making my way through the many fresh dates found at the Arabic market.

            If I have the courage, one day I'll buy durian or geoduck

            1. re: sandiasingh

              Soursop, which I enjoy as a canned fruit, is one of the things that gets called "custard apple". So does cherimoya, which IS sold fresh in some markets. Canned soursop is a tad pricey, so I stretch it by using the syrup to replace part of the cold water when making a packet of any tropical flavor of Jell-O, and putting the fruit into it as well. I recently found frozen soursop in a flat packet in the Hannaford supermarket chain, but have not opened it yet.

            2. I absolutely do this! Glad to know I'm not the only one. I discovered star fruit and dragon fruit this way. I love going to the Asian supermarket and buying inexpensive items to figure out how use later. I use a brand of red curry paste (the name escapes me) with a Thai label- the ingredients include "lemons grasses". I mostly bought it because that seemed funny but it's really delicious!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Hobbert

                I thought most CH's do this! Impulse buys chowhound style.


                Here's one idea for Buddha's Hand that went over very well as a gift idea.

                1. Buddha's Hand is a beautiful decorative table item...makes cool garnishes too

                  1. It is great for Candied Citron