Buddha’s hand or fingered citron is the kind of fruit that you may have not heard about. The fruit is named such, because the fruit is separated into long, thin sections that resemble the fingers of a human hand. Native to India or China, as most citron varieties are Buddha’s hand has long been used in religious ceremonies, possibly due to the importance of Buddha’s open hand to the Buddhist faith. However, this fruit is also used for perfumes given its sweet, citrusy smell and can also be consumed for its medicinal properties. It has very little juice and typically no seeds and a bittersweet pulp. So, the consumption hasn’t become widespread and its distribution is still, somewhat limited. It majorly grows in the temperate areas of China and India. Both the rind and the fruit itself can be used for various medicinal effects.
Benefits of Buddha’s hand
- Relieves Pain – For thousands of years, Buddha’s hand has been turned for pain relief namely due to the chemical composition of the fruit, which includes coumarin, limonin, and diosmin. In combination with its anti-inflammatory capacity, Buddha’s hand is able to relieve swelling and pain caused by everything from injuries and surgeries to simple bangs and bruises, and was often believed to speed up wound healing and discoloration of bruises.
- Treats Respiratory Issues – One of the most common uses of Buddha’s hand is for respiratory conditions. Buddha’s hand acts as an expectorant, so if you’re suffering from excessive coughing that produces phlegm or catarrh, then consuming Buddha’s hand can be a quick and painless remedy. Soaking the fruit in a bowl with water and sugar can make this even more effective before consuming the fruit.
- Reduces Gastrointestinal Issues – If you’re suffering from a upset stomach, diarrhea, cramping, bloating or constipation, Buddha’s hand can provide an effective remedy that eases inflammation in the stomach lining and soothes the intestinal muscles, so that digestion and excretion can occur normally.
- Eliminates Menstrual Discomfort – For women who suffer from unusually strong menstrual periods, in terms of cramps, bleeding, and mood swings, Buddha’s hand has long been trusted as a natural remedy. The anti-inflammatory nature of the fruit combined with some of its other antioxidant qualities make for a perfect solution, if you’re facing this uncomfortable problem.
- Boosts Immunity – A specific polysaccharide found in Buddha’s hand is specifically linked to stimulating marcrophage activity and boosting the speed and efficacy of the immune system. Although this is seen as more of a preventative measure, to keep your immune system strong. Buddha’s hand should also be eaten, when suffering from the cold or flu, as it can significantly speed up your recovery time.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – Alcohol extract from Buddha’s hand actually behaves like a vasodilator, relaxing and dilating coronary blood vessels and increasing circulation, effectively lowering blood pressure and reducing the chances of developing atherosclerosis or suffering from a heart attack or stroke. This significantly lowers the strain on the cardiovascular system and promotes a long-term healthy lifestyle.
Adding Buddha’s hand to your diet
1. Candy: The lack of bitterness makes the Buddha’s hand perfect, for making candied citrus peel, which you can eat by itself or use in baked goods.
2. Booze: The complex aroma of a Buddha’s hand is fantastic for making infused vodka, limoncello (Buddhacello) or flavored simple syrup for cocktails.
3. Raw: Shave thin slices of Buddha’s hand and add it to a salad or use it to top steamed tofu or fish.
4. Sugar and Salt: Use Buddha’s hand zest or even a whole finger to make scented sugar and flavored salt.
Word of Caution
Despite many benefits derived from the fruit, some of these are still in the process of being scientifically verified, although thousands of years of use should be some indication of its efficacy. However, one should always discuss with your doctor before adding a foreign fruit to the diet, particularly one as potent as Buddha’s hand. If you have low blood pressure, lower it further with Buddha’s hand may not be a wise choice.
Recipe for Candied Buddha’s Hand Citron
Prep – 15 m, Cook – 45 m, Ready In – 1 d 3 h 30 m
3 cups diced Buddha’s hand (fingered citron)
3 cups white sugar, divided
2 cups water
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add diced Buddha’s hand, return to a simmer, and cook until citrus softens, about 30 minutes. Drain.
Combine Buddha’s hand, 2 1/2 cups sugar and water in the same pot; Bring to simmer and cook stirring occasionally, until syrup reaches a temperature of 230 degrees F (110 degrees C). Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Drain citrus. Pourthe excess liquid into jars and reserve.
Spread drained citrus out onto a wire rack and let it dry until tacky, at least 24 hours. Pour the remaining sugar into a shallow bowl. Toss citrus in sugar until coated; transfer the coated pieces to a plate to dry, at least 2 hours.
Recipe for Buddha’s Hand shortbread cookies
Prep time: 15 mins, Cook time: 25 mins, Total time: 40 mins, Yield: 2 dozen small cookies
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Buddha’s Hand fingers, finely chopped (remove some but not all of the white pith before chopping)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup large-crystal raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer (or a bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, salt and chopped Buddha’s Hand, until the mixture is fluffy and fragrant. The action of the mixer will release the essential oils in the Buddha’s Hand rind. So it’s important not to cheat this step.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour. Mixing gently with a spatula or your hands until the dough comes together. It will be dry and crumble..
Turn the dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and form it into a rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the raw sugar on top and press the sugar into the dough with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut the dough into small squares or diamonds and separate the cookies a bit on the tray, so that air can circulate between them. They won’t spread, so you don’t have to leave a lot of room in between.
Bake about 25 minutes or until the cookies are just turning golden, at the edges. Cool on a rack. Serve with tea.