Buddha's hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) is such a curiosity. It's unusual form and exquisite aroma is a delight in my food forest. It is a small tree which becomes laden with these weird and wonderful fruits in spring. I get a crop in Autumn too. This plant is suitable for pots too.
It is called Buddha's hand because of the way it looks. Each of the citrus segments is fully enclosed with peel and look quite like fingers. Each one looks different and quite like the Buddhist hand gestures (mudras).
Interestingly it has no juice like most citrus fruit - just zest and pith. The treasure though is this zest - it adds a wonderful flavour to dishes, like lemon blossom. Use it as you would any lemon zest. I use it when it's green and further ripened and turned yellow too. It's flavour is quite strong and a little goes a long way.
So how do you use Buddhas Hand?
- shave thin slices onto salad
- grate over steamed vegetables
- shave thin slices onto tofu or fish dishes
- grate into salad dressing
- add finely grated to marinades
- use finely grated in cakes and biscuits
- chop slices and brew as a tea (a little honey is nice with this)
- make candied segments as throat lozenges (like candied citrus peel)
- just munch it raw from the plant when fully ripe (a young friend of my daughters used to come here and do that all the time!)
- add slices to bath for an aromatic soak
- place in centre of table as a curiosity and air freshener
- soak in vinegar for a few days, then use as a antibacterial surface cleaner
- telling stories and making creatures with the kids
Medicinal ValueBuddha's hand has long been used to:
- relieve pain
- ease bruising
- clear lungs - an expectorant
- soothe throat
- ease an upset stomach and digestion issues
- ease menstrual pain
- boost immunity
- lower blood pressure
It is of the citron family - one of the original four citrus fruits that all others emerged from. The others are mandarin, pomelo and papeda (kaffir lime is a hybrid of this).
It mostly grows in the temperate regions of China and India, but is becoming popular in many parts of the world. It is very happy here in my subtropical garden and is great for small yard because it is just a small tree.
Do you have other ways you use Buddha's hand?