Buddha’s Hand Citron – Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis

What an unusual citrus the ‘Buddha’s hand’ citron is.
But what do we know about it?

The ‘Buddha’s Hand’ Citron looks just like a yellow hand. The fingers are predominately pith along with the rest of the fruit and there is no juice to speak of but all hope is not lost.

The Buddha’s Hand Citron
The Buddha’s Hand Citron

Because boy, do they exude a magical citrus fragrance and the pithy skin can still be used for a variety of purposes.

I bought one at a local fruit shop the other day and had it sitting in the fruit bowl. When I walked in the door at the end of the day the whole house had this beautiful citrus aroma all throughput it, it was just delightful.

The best bit I reckon is the heavenly fragrance that this unusual citrus omits. It can scent a whole house if in the right location.

The best bit I reckon is the heavenly fragrance that this unusual citrus omits. It can scent a whole house if in the right location.

When it comes to juicing though, this is not the citrus variety to choose.

So what to do with this intriguing fruit?

Eating & using it:

  • Candying the peel is one great option. And it turns out beautifully because of its lack of usual citrus bitterness.
  • Raw: you can shave super thin slices of it and add it to salads, fish dishes or even desserts. The zest can be another option too.
  • Flavour sugar or salt using the slices fruit or zest.
  • Drink it: Infuse alcohols such as vodka with the fruit. Create syrups with the fruit that could the base for cocktails or anything drink or dish that you think the beautifully perfumed fruit would add an amazing twist to.
  • And as I found out quite quickly, just leave the fruit in a bowl and let it be a natural air freshener. And it will definitely create a stir with visitors.
  • Dried fruit and or fruit pieces can be used in potpourri or used in clothes and draws to scent clothing, sheets etc.
    Folks into spices and natural flavourings will love and want a ‘Buddha’s hand’ Citron.

History:
This particular species of citron is thought to have come from the foothills of the Himalayas and is thought to have made its way to Greece and Italy around 320 B.C. For centuries in both the Orient and Mediterranean vicinities the fruit has been used for it fragrance and edible qualities, as well as medicinally and for its religious purposes. The fruit in many Asian countries symbolizes happiness and long life and is often displayed in homes and temple alters.

Buddhist monks prefer the Buddha’s hand citron to have its fingers in a more closed position – as if in prayer
Buddhist monks prefer the Buddha’s hand citron to have its fingers in a more closed position – as if in prayer

Growing it:
Grow as you would any other citrus, full sun, free draining soil with ample organic matter dug through the soil at planting. Keep well watered for the first growing season or two and in periods of drought. Fertilise as you would any other citrus. Keep in mind it is frost sensitive. The fruit will ripen in late autumn to winter.

I’m heading out to buy tree ASAP and why not purchase one as a gift for that gardening friend that has everything. Bet they don’t have one of these.

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