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What is a Buddha's Hand?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2014
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A Buddha's hand is a very strong scented, odd looking citrus fruit. It is an ancient fruit that is not commonly thought of for its cookery uses. The flavor and scent of a this fruit are similar to those of a lemon, but its appearance is very different.

The Buddha's hand is bright yellow, and its long yellow "fingers" can number from five to 20. It needs warm weather to grow and can be damaged by the cold, but also by intense heat. Areas such as Southern California have ideal weather conditions in which the fruit can flourish.

This fruit can be found growing on small trees, and it is thought to have originated in India. Other stories claim that the fruit was used as an offering in religious ceremonies. When the fingers of the fruit are closed, they symbolize the closed praying hand. The Buddha's hand is thought to be one of the oldest known citrus fruits.

In China and Japan, the fruit is mainly used to scent or freshen rooms. It is also popular in fragrances and perfumes with a citrus base. The flesh of the fruit is not juicy, and the little pulp there is is incredibly tangy. Unlike most citrus fruits, Buddha's hand does not have a bitter pith.

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The rind of the fruit is often used to make a zesty marmalade, but it can also be added to drinks to impart a lemony taste. Chefs sometimes use the fruit as a flavoring for fish. It is also excellent in salads and rice dishes. The rind is often used as a main ingredient when making candy. It can also be mixed with ice cream or yogurt to give an extra kick.

The citrusy Buddha's hand is becoming an extremely popular alternative to the lemon in a number of dishes. The fingers should be cut off, sliced, and then peeled. All of the fingers can be used when cooking.

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Discuss this Article

anon299735
Post 10

@simrin: I know that the Hy-Vee grocery chain in the midwest can get these in. If they don't have any, you can request it. Its very interesting. I brought it into our store and people are really curious when they see it.

sunshined
Post 9

I can't imagine spending close to $10 for one piece of fruit. I would probably be more apt to use it as some sort of table decoration and hope it would last for awhile instead of cutting it up for food.

The color and shape of this would look great as some type of fall centerpiece. One thing is for sure - it would make a great conversation piece!

andee
Post 8

I enjoy the taste of Buddha's hand and like to use it mixed in with other fruit for a salad.

I have mixed small pieces of this fruit with melon, strawberries and a little bit of mint.

Many people do not know what this fruit tastes like and are pleasantly surprised. The first time you see a piece of this fruit, it can be a little bit intimidating and you wonder what in the world you do with it.

When this is served on a pretty plate, the combination of yellow, red and orange colors is very appealing. This is one of the salads that tastes as good as it looks.

myharley
Post 7

The first time I saw a Buddha's hand at a market, I had no idea what it was. It was one of the strangest things I had ever seen.

When I asked about it, I was given quite a bit of interesting information about this fruit.

I really like the intense citrus fragrance it has and like to use it in potpourri to freshen up the room.

If you have this in a small room, you can really smell the lemony fragrance. My favorite combination is to mix it with vanilla for a crisp, light scent.

I have never used it for food, but it sounds like there would be some interesting possibilities there as well.

ddljohn
Post 6

@fify-- I've made marmalade from the rind of Buddha's hand and it wasn't bitter at all. I wonder if you just had one that wasn't completely ripe yet? Was the citron entirely yellow? It should be yellow, if it's green, then it hasn't ripened yet.

@simrin-- Yea, it is expensive but if you use it to make marmalade and you store the marmalade in the fridge, it will last you a long time. I buy Buddha's hand to make marmalade maybe once every six months so I feel like the cost is worth it.

Plus, it's delicious! If you like zesty lemony flavors, then you will love Buddha's hand. It's the best lemony flavor ever!

I don't know if it's available in the Midwest but you could order it from California. There are online shops that deliver Buddha's hand grown in California anywhere in the US.

SteamLouis
Post 5

I've never seen a Buddha's hand citron before but I've heard about it from my Chinese friend. Does anyone know if we can get Buddha's hand in the Midwest?

My Chinese friend told me that the Buddha's hand is important in China. It is believed in China that if you keep a Buddha's hand citron in the home, everyone in the home will have a long and prosperous, happy life. They also use it for religious and medicinal purposes and for cooking as well.

I don't know if I could cook with it since it's such a foreign fruit to me. But I would really like to see one and taste it. I'm not sure if I believe it will bring me prosperity, but I'd probably keep it in the house for a week anyway. I wouldn't be able to buy it regularly since it's pretty expensive.

fify
Post 4

Buddha's hand is a really interesting fruit. I had bought it once simply out of curiosity from an Asian grocery store. When the "fingers" are closed, it really does look someone is praying with their hands together like Buddhists and Hindus do.

The ones I bought were opened up though, so it had a bunch of smaller "fingers" in the center and looked like an octopus with a texture of lemon. It smells a lot like lemon and tastes like a sweet lemon - lemongrass combination.

I tried grating the rind in milk sweets like I do with lemons and oranges. But it made the sweets kind of bitter so I think the rind is only good for a very quick infusion. If you let anything boil with the rind, it will turn bitter.

The inside however, is really sweet. I liked having it raw and I liked it as a marmalade. I used the marmalade as fillings or toppings on pastries and cakes and it was delicious.

BioNerd
Post 3

@GigaGold

I recall learning that the banana was once much different than its current form, and tasted less sweet and more like a potato. It will be interesting to see what kinds of fruits "evolve" in the near future.

dbuckley212
Post 2

@GigaGold

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