Intoxicated by Buddha’s Hand

Forgive me if I’m a little tipsy as I tipe, er, type.

Remember that gnarly looking fruit that my friend Damian grew? That yellow citrus fruit that’s a dead-ringer for a sea amenomee, uh, anenome…um, you know what I mean? Yes, that Buddha’s hand that he gave me in January? Surely, you remember my post on that unusual gift.

You can probably guess what I made from it, after seeing the photo above with the bottle of Everclear lurking dangerously in the background. Yup, Buddha-cello. A version of the classic Italian liqueur, limoncello, but with Buddha’s hand rather then lemons.

After heeding some useful advice about making limoncello from Lisa at Learning To Eat and Hedonia — (I think it was them. I dunno any more. My mind isn’t so good now.) — I set off for BevMo to buy my first bottle of Everclear.

My husband says he remembers stirring up punch with this stuff at college frat parties. I wonder how he’s still walking now, let alone how he managed to graduate.

To say this stuff is strong is an understatement.ย  It’s P-O-T-E-N-T! It’s natural grain alcohol that’s 151 proof or 75.5 percent alcohol. Cough, cough. Good gawd.

Limoncello afficionados swear it makes a far superior product than mere vodka, because it has a more neutral taste and can therefore better absorb the flavor of the citrus that’s being infused.

Nothing but the best for my Buddha’s hand, I say. So I toted home a 750ml bottle, hoping it wouldn’t spontaneously combustร‚ย  in my car on the ride home. Hey, ya never know.

In my kitchen, I set about taking apart my Buddha’s hand, which is definitely more work than just zesting a lemon. You have to cut off the individual fingers, then zest each one separately.

Into a sterilized glass jar went the zest, the entire bottle of Everclear, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean pod. Once the lid was secured, I set the jar on a back counter and waited.

It didn’t take long. In only about two days’ time, the once clear alcohol had taken on a deep yellow color.

After six weeks, I whipped up some simple syrup by heating 1/3 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar. Once the simple syrup cooled, I added it to the jar, along with 2 cups of vodka to help mellow the mixture. Then I set the jar back on the counter and waited again.

Two weeks later, I strained the mixture, then decanted it into bottles, which I stuck into the freezer so they would reach the optimal frosty temperature to enjoy my Buddha-cello.

Then, I poured a little into a shot glass and took a sip.

I nearly keeled over.

Oh, don’t get me wrong — it was wonderfully bright with floral and citrus-y flavors, as well as a subtle creamy note from the vanilla. But boy howdy, this stuff is S-T-R-O-N-G!

I could add more vodka to make it a little tamer, if adding more alcohol — albeit a more moderate proof one — makes any sense at all. But because my Buddha’s hand was on the small side, I didn’t want to dilute the mixture too much so that the citron flavor dissipated.

Lisa at Learning to Eat blog likes to add a little whole milk or cream sweetened with sugar to her homemade limoncello to create crema. I tried it that way, too, and it does go down easier that way. I also want to try topping a glass of Buddha-cello with sparkling wine to see what that’s like.

But that’ll have to wait.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a nap.

More: Making Preserved Lemons

More: Making Meyer Lemon Marmalade

More: Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti’s Lemon Bars

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  • Buddha hands are the best. We grow it in our back yard … the best fun is when the flowers (which are ENORMOUS!) drop and that first, baby fingered bulb appears. They take forever to mature.

  • This is so cool! I had the most amazing drink at Daniel in NYC which I think had Buddha’s hand something (maybe it was buddha-cello!) and a slice of fennel . . . it was fantastic, but I never knew how they incorporated the Buddha’s hand . .

  • A pity I can’t find this type of lemon here… That drink is exhaliratingly flavorful!



  • What a beautiful fruit and drink! I would love to give this a try.

  • the little old ladies around little saigon sell these every year around the lunar new year..this is a great use for them!

  • I love Buddha’s Hand, even though I’ve never bought one. This sounds like the perfect use.

  • I’ve only tried buddha’s hand once at a fancy restaurant. They gave only paper thin slices so I can’t remember much of the taste. Would love to try it again one day!

  • Mmm … you’re right in that the Buddha’s hand is rather delicate, which is why I stick to lemons, grapefruits and bergamots mostly. But I think you could mix a little lemon in with the Buddha’s hand to pump up the flavor without overwhelming it.

    OK, now I need a shot of one of my ‘cellos. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • it doesn’t take much alcohol to knock me onto my keister, so i’d probably be wise to steer clear of the everclear. the buddha’s hand is awesome though, and certainly worth playing around with!

  • The vanilla sounds lovely in this. Great use of your Buddha’s hand! I like to drink limoncello about half and half with sparkling water–I’m a liquor wimp.

  • Sounds like a good bio-chemistry experiment :-))
    However, since I am like “lisaiscooking” (liqour wimp), I wonder if your Buddha hands concoction can replace Grand Manier for lemon-flavored cakes & glaze. Of you go with more experiment, Carolyn ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Hilarious post, Carolyn. I can totally see you reeling from kitchen to computer, tipple tilting precariously in your unsteady hand. Next year during Meyer Lemon season, I think I’m going to try my hand at limoncello. Might decide to steer clear of that Everclear though — it sounds pretty lethal ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • The first picture is absolutely stunning! I have never tried to use buddha’s hands for anything – but the grocer told me that I should just treat it like lemon zest… I don’t drink so can you tell me what else I can do with it? Can I treat it like preserved lemons?

  • Ooh, that looks gorgeous. I still haven’t tried Buddha’s hand but I will eventually. Love the crema idea!

  • OMG! I dreramed about of such a few weeks ago, having all those hands oozing after me, can be scary too! but it was just a dream! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Beautiful ! I have tried Buddha’s hand it so delicious delish creama..thank you for sharing your awesome recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’ve tried limoncello with about everything, but not yet Budda’s Hand. I also like to mix my drink with a bit of club soda, its refreshing and doesn’t pack nearly the punch!

  • omg I cant even imagine drinking flavored everclear straight like that! I remember it all to well from college parties (or at least, I remember the hangovers and fruit-punch colored puke stains…sorry for the visual)

  • The Everclear you get in California is only 75.5% alcohol?? That’s sissy-water! In South Dakota, Everclear is 90% alcohol! That’ll put hair on yer….well…actually….it’ll *remove* hair from just about anything.

  • D-Wine Guy: 90 PERCENT alcohol?!? I think that might be too much for this Food Gal. Yowza!!

    Big Boys Oven: Those are some crazy dreams! Better lay off that extra-large pepperoni pizza before going to bed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Trissa: There is no real juice component with Buddha’s hand, unlike with lemons. You can use the zest just like you would lemon zest. But since there is no juice in it, I’m not sure it would take so well to salt preserving, where the salt combines with the juice to break down the lemons. Anyone ever try preserving a Buddha’s hand in salt?

  • Very Cool Carolyn! Although I had to laugh when I saw the bottle of Everclear it brings back memories of one too many jello shots ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pingback: Food Gal » Blog Archiv » Hello, Limoncello

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