Buddha’s Hand – Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis

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I was at my local grocery store, when I noticed this oddity. I had no clue what it was, so a photograph would have to do until I could research it. This wasn’t for sale, ironically.

Turns out this is called a Buddha’s Hand.

It is believed that sometime after the fourth century, Buddhist monks carried this fruit from India to China, where it came to symbolize happiness, wealth and longevity. The Chinese like to use it as a centerpiece in their homes, and present it as an offering on temple altars. The Japanese like to use it as a decorative ornament and place it on top of specially pounded rice cakes, or they use it in lieu of flowers in the home’s sacred tokonomo (alcove).

Though esteemed chiefly for its exquisite form and aroma, the Buddha’s Hand citron is also prescribed as a stimulant, expectorant, and tonic in non-traditional medicine.

Decorative:

  • Seasonal centerpiece
  • A fragrant air freshener

Edible:

  • Shave thin slices of Buddha’s hand and add it to a salad
  • Top steamed tofu or fish
  • Sugar and Salt: Use zest or a whole finger to make scented sugar and flavored salt
  • Zest mixed into cake frosting makes it very aromatic
  • For salad dressing:
    • 4 Tbsps olive oil – 1/2 teaspoon salt – 2 Tbsps Meyer Lemon juice – 2 Tbsps zested Buddha’s Hand
    • 1 Tbsps balsamic vinegar – 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, minced – 1 clove minced garlic
  • Combine all vinaigrette together in bowl and allow vinaigrette to marinade overnight.
  • Candied citrus peel – which you can eat by itself or use in baked goods.
  • Make infused vodka or flavored simple syrup for cocktails.

Β© Ilex Farrell

12 thoughts on “Buddha’s Hand – Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis

  1. Wow, I will look in our stores, I NEEEEEEED such a hand :o) although I ahve not really good hand when it comes to such exotic thingies, I bought a Pitahaya last year, thought it’s super special… and I’ve got a tasteless watery thingy… for 5 bucks uhoh :o)

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  2. I’m so glad you posted this strange thing. I came across them in my grocery story last year and was immediately intrigued. Lucky for me they were selling it and you can bet I bought one. Problem was I anticipated being able to actually eat it, especially being a citrus lover and all. But once I got home and looked it up I learned that that is not the case and it is best used for zesting like you mentioned, although I didn’t go so far as to discover all the uses you’ve described above. I’m grateful for that, now to find some vodka… πŸ˜‰

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