I’m not going to lie, Buddha’s Hand is one intimidating fruit: it’s about the size of a baby’s head, if that baby was Medusa with snake-like appendages growing wildly from its waxy neck. It's the ugly duckling of the citrus family and resembles an octopus more than its lemon relatives
I vaguely remembered reading about the odd citrus fruit known as Buddha’s Hand when I unexpectedly happened upon it at Fresh Market. This was not the type of exotic food I was expecting to see at a suburban grocery store located in Richmond’s west end. But there it was, nestled between the grapefruit and oranges, this large yellow monstrosity with arms reaching towards me like a baby wanting its mommy. I had to buy it.
I set my newly purchased Buddha’s Hand on the kitchen table, and looked at it bewildered. I hadn’t the faintest clue how to use it, so I did what any self-respecting tech-savvy girl would do; I reached out to my followers on Instagram and Twitter for advice, and as always, they came through. It turns out there are numerous ways to use it, including making tea from the peel or zesting it into pasta, but what appealed to me most was the infused liquor and candied peel suggestions – I like my vices.
As the name suggests, Buddha’s Hand originates from northeast India and China. It contains little to no juicy flesh (the one I bought had none) and consists of nearly all rind and pith, which is the white part of the fruit. Unlike other citrus, the pith is not very bitter. It's extremely aromatic with a strong lemon-lime flavor and zero acidity. So if you ever cross paths with a Buddha’s hand, take a deep breath, remember it tastes sort of like Sprite, and have fun with it.
Buddha’s Hand Infused Tequila Blanco
Tequila Blanco (750 ml bottle)
¼ pound Buddha’s Hand Citron (about 1/3 of the “fingers” or tentacles”)
Thoroughly wash the fruit and cut off about a third of the “tentacles.” Choose a glass container with an airtight lid that will fit both the tentacles and the 750 ml bottle of tequila blanco (the clear stuff). Place the cut Buddha’s Hand pieces into the jar and pour in the tequila. After 24 hours the tequila will already be infused with a wonderful citrus flavor. Taste the tequila each day until it has the intensity and flavor you like (up to 5 days).
Candied Buddha’s Hand
About ¾ - 1 pound Buddha’s Hand Citron
5 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
Slice Buddha’s Hand into about 3 inch slices, about ¼ - ½ inch thick. Be sure to sure to use both the pith and skin.
Place cut Buddha’s Hand into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain water, then repeat the boiling process one more time. This blanching process ensures that the candy will not be bitter.
Next, bring 3 cups sugar and 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the blanched Buddha’s Hand and return to a boil. Once it is boiling reduce the heat to just below medium. The syrup (sugar-water) should still be simmering. Simmer for 30 minutes then remove from heat.
Place the remaining 1 ½ cups of sugar onto a plate. Lift the Buddha’s hand out of the syrup and shake off excess liquid. Place the Buddha’s Hand into the sugar to coat. Place the coated fruit onto a drying rack and let dry for 24 hours. You can also reserve the cooking syrup and use it to flavor cocktails or pour onto pancakes.