Fruity Looking Fruit

What the heck?

How gnarly looking is this?

Yes, if it popped up on my computer screen without warning, I might just let out a yelp.

Actually, it arrived by special delivery to my house the other day, hand-carried over by my friend Damian, a gardener extraordinaire who can grow anything, and I mean ANYTHING.

Yes, he grew this Buddha’s hand that’s otherwise known as citron. Once I got my nerves back in check from the sight of this crazy sea anemone-looking fruit, I nearly got high off its fragrance. It’s intoxicating to say the least. It has notes of Meyer lemon, grapefruit and even a little vanilla. Someone ought to bottle this as Eau de Buddha and sell it for a mint.

In fact, some people, including Damian and his family, just use the Buddha’s hand as a table centerpiece to scent a room beautifully and to be quite the conversation piece for unsuspecting guests.

An octopus-like fruit.

All rind, and little juice, this citrus is prized for its aroma. Its rind is treasured for the exquisite candied peel it makes, too.

Buddha’s hand is native to Northeast India, according to “The Penguin Companion to Food” by Alan Davidson, where it was used as medicine and perfume. It’s long had a connection to religion and medicine, and was even regarded as an antidote to most poisons.

When the fruit made its way to China in the 4th century, Davidson writes, it became a symbol of happiness, and was used to adorn household altars.

Mine made me very happy, indeed. I let mine scent my dining room for a few days, before deciding its fate. So what will my hands make out of this Buddha’s hand?

Hint: It’s a process that takes a few weeks. So, you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

More Unusual Fruit: Japanese Hoshigaki

And More: Miracle Fruit

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Date: Friday, 15. January 2010 5:23
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Fruit, General, Great Finds

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26 comments

  1. 1

    Can’t wait to hear about the final fate of your citron.

  2. 2

    Can’t wait to see what you’re concocting! I wish I could grow these in my garden.

  3. 3

    Buddhacello?

  4. 4

    So cool looking! I’ve had desserts in restaurants that made use of this but I have never seen it in its original form. Kind of ugly/beautiful! Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  5. 5

    I always get a kick seeing the buddha hand at the farmers markets. In San Francisco, it’s very popular in cocktails when in season.

  6. 6

    So pretty!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. 7

    What an interesting looking fruit! Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  8. 8

    I had a fabulous cocktail made out of this fruit at Daniel (in NYC) back in November. It’s a bit bitter and tart – reminds me of grapefruit. It is gnarly looking isn’t it? :)

  9. 9

    Very cool! Working on some lemoncello maybe???

  10. 10

    Ah the suspense is killing me until you unveil the finl product! I’m leaning with Sean buddhacello.

  11. 11

    Man, I can’t fool you guys at all, can I? :)

  12. 12

    I’m in the lemoncello camp too, I can’t wait to see what you made from it!

  13. 13

    awesome picture!! pulls you right in to make you really want to read the post! Love the real candided citron…the one you buy in a big sticky slice from an Italian market..not those prepacked diced nasties that just taste like that fruitcake that just got thrown out….

  14. 14

    I saw this in the market when I was in Singapore. It’s definitely one of the freakiest food I’ve ever seen, and pretty darn expensive, too. Can’ wait to see what you come up with!

  15. 15

    wow. i live in Singapore and i have not seen these freaky things! i love anything citrusy though so…

  16. 16

    So is that Buddha’s hand or citron? I’m confused!
    I thought Buddha’s hand is chayote?

  17. 17

    Tigerfish: A chayote is something all together different. It’s a gourd. It is pear-shape, and a commonly found one is pale green, with ridged “knuckles” at the base that resemble a clenched fist. So that might be where the confusion comes from.

    According to “The Penguin Companion to Food,” citron is a citrus that resembles a huge, rough lemon. Apparently, when the citron reached China in the 4th Century, though, a freak form developed in which the fruit was separated into five or more lobes that look like the fingers of a hand. This particular variety, according to the book, is called fo shu kan (Buddha’s hand).

  18. 18

    Wow!! Great photos and yeah, I’d freak out if I saw that too. It looks like it belongs in the bottom of the ocean!!

  19. 19

    i’ve seen the Buddha’s hand but i didn’t know it was citron. thanks for the great info!

  20. 20

    Thanks for the further clarifications. Buddha’s Hand has been loosely used to represent chayote in many supermarkets. Chayote – they call it Buddha’s Palm, Longevity Gourd, all kinds of names!

  21. 21

    Is this the same fruit that is used in that wonderful Korean honey-citron tea?

  22. 22

    I knew it was called a Buddha’s hand but I don’t think I ever tasted it. I don’t think it was plentiful in the wet markets in Singapore, where I lived for 3 1/2 years, and thought I tasted just about everything. I loved the wet markets.

  23. 23

    PS, your photos are exquisite.

  24. 24

    Interesting! I can’t wait to find out what you make! It sort of reminds me of yellow squash, visually speaking, but that’s probably because I just at one of those. It sounds much tastier!

  25. 25

    Nate: That’s a good question. It might very well be the same fruit in those Korean teas. Interesting!

  26. 26

    [...] What I like best about Whole Foods are the name cards that include ingredients and the source, such as the breakfast sausage that was “made with pork from Thompson Farms in Dixie, GA”. Good to know! And I can almost always find interesting ingredients like lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and Buddha’s Palm (http://www.foodgal.com/2010/01/fruity-looking-fruit/). [...]

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