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Buddha’s Hand: It reached out for me in the supermarket.

November 20, 2008 by Joan Nova in Potpourri, Vegetables | 8 Comments

Has it ever grabbed you? Have you seen it? tasted it? used it?
I saw this in a local supermarket and was intrigued. “What a great item for my blog”, I thought, and then I found out the price…$13 each! Like a hot potato, it was quickly out of my cart and back on the shelf. While I didn’t have my camera with me (bad blogger…I should never be without my camera), I  remembered my cell’s capabilities and snapped this (not-so-good) photo.

Still intrigued,  I came home and researched it on Wikipedia.

FYI: This is the way it grows.

From Wikipedia: Buddha’s Hand, Buddha’s Hand citron, or Fingered citron (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus) is a fragrant citrus fruit. It grows on a shrub or small tree with long, irregular branches covered in thorns. Its large, oblong leaves are pale green and grow about four to six inches. Its flowers are white or purplish and grow in fragrant clusters.

The fruit itself is a type of citron and is often described as lemon-like or lemon-esque. The fruit is segmented into finger-like sections. It has a thick peel and a small amount of acidic flesh and is seedless and juiceless. It is very fragrant and is used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and personal items, such as clothing.

The peel of the fruit can be candied into succade. In Western cooking, it is often used for its zest. The inner white pith is not bitter as is usually the case with citrus, so the fingers may be cut off and then longitudinally sliced, peel pith and all, and used in salads or scattered over cooked foods such as fish.

The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the “fingers” of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer.

The origin of Buddha’s Hand is traced back to Northeastern India and is believed to be the first citrus fruit known in Europe. It is speculated that the Greeks and Romans brought them back from Asia.

The tree itself is sensitive to frost, as well as intense heat and drought. It grows best in temperate conditions. Areas such as the coast of Southern California as well as inland valleys are considered ideal for its planting. Trees can be grown from cuttings taken from branches two to four years old. One must bury the cuttings (replete with foliage) deep in the soil.

It is thought that in some areas it is given the name goblin fingers due to the frightening aspect of the “open” position.
NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Robin Sue says:

    Ha Ha I did see this the other day at Whole Foods. It was fun to look at and smell but did not want to take one home with me. It was in with the lemons. Thanks for sharing all about it I will have to show my kids, who loved the thing and thought it did look like a spokie hand!

  2. Maryann says:

    Very very cool! I’ve never seen anything like it! Thanks for the photo :)

  3. jesse says:

    Whoa, that looks a liiiiiittle bit scary. I saw some Iron Chef using it during one of the shows… but I forgot what they did with it exactly. =( Perhaps you’ll come up with some completely brilliant technique that will leave us all breathless, yes? =D

  4. Abby says:

    Creepy! I’d love to try it, though.

  5. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    Wow, that is an incredible looking fruit. I have never seen or heard of it before. I would love to try it too, but the store can keep it for $13!

  6. lemon_tart says:

    The only time I’ve ever seen those used is on Iron Chef America and they are totally creepy!

  7. Anne Lossing says:

    Your blog looks really fun and interesting!! I’m going to enjoy following along ….JUNGLE

  8. Holler says:

    I enjoyed this post! I am very impressed with your quick thinking! I always forget about the camera in my phone and I think I would be scareed of being arrested if I started taking photos in the supermarket :D

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