I know what you are thinking…what is this thing? That’s exactly what I thought as I was standing in the grocery store. Tons of questions started running thru my mind like: What is this? What is it called? What do you do with it? Can you eat it?
According to the sign at the store, this was Buddha’s Hand. I immediately thought I needed to buy one for my next Sass 101 blog!
Buddha’s Hand, fingered citron
What is it?
It’s a citron. Citron fruits are fragrant, but unlike an orange or a lemon, it doesn’t have the juicy pulp in the middle. It’s literally all rind, no seeds or flesh. It looks like a lemon crossed with a squid. It’s “segments” grow on the outside as “fingers” – hence the name, Buddha’s hand.
Where did it originate from?
Northern India or Southern China
Apparently it’s a popular gift for Chinese New Year because it symbolizes happiness, longevity, and good fortune.
In China and Japan, Buddha fingers are mainly used as an air freshener. It is also popular in fragrances and perfumes with a citrus base.
Can you eat it?
Yes, apparently you can eat rind and all. (I tried it – I wouldn’t suggest eating it raw.)
Any recipe that calls for lemon zest or some sort of citrus zest – you can use this! It’s the perfect substitute for ordinary lemon zest! Just cut the “fingers” off and wash them, then zest/peel. I also saw a few recipes online using it in salad dressings or even infusing the peel in vodka. (YUM!) Also, many people claimed the peel of the Buddha’s Hand is fantastic candied.
It’s best kept refrigerated and consumed within a few days!
It’s very fragrant….and I mean VERY fragrant — in a good way. Just letting it sit out on your countertop is like an air freshener. I cut mine up and my husband could smell the citrus all the way in the living room. My hands smelled like citrus the entire day – even after washing (scrubbing).
It’s a fun conversation starter – like seeing my husband’s reaction when I showed it to him!
If you happen to see it in your local grocery store or farmer’s market — I highly recommend checking it out. It is at least worth a sniff.