It’s easy to see where the Buddha’s Hand Citron gets its name. This unusually shaped citron’s most obvious features are the long, slender “fingers” projecting from the vibrantly yellow body of the fruit. No wonder that it’s also known as fingered citron. The other obvious feature of the fruit is its delicious fragrance, which has been described as a cross between a lemon and rose.
In Asia, the Buddha’s Hand is often used as a sort of natural air freshener, scenting entire rooms or the contents of closets and clothing storage areas. Just leave a whole Buddha’s Hand out and you’ll soon notice its gentle, but powerful aroma filling the entire room.
In the Western world, the Buddha’s Hand is primarily prized for its thick, intensely aromatic peel. With little or no flesh or juice, the peel is definitely the main event. Slice through one of the Buddha’s Hand fingers, or split it down the middle, and you’ll see exactly what it’s all about. Unlike most other citrus varieties, neither the peel nor pith of the Buddha’s hand is bitter. Thin, uncooked slices of the fingers can be scattered on salads, main dishes or desserts. Try tossing sliced Buddha’s Hand over steamed fish or grilled chicken for a different take on old favorites.
The Buddha’s Hand really shines when it comes to baked goods, syrups and preserves. Replace lemon zest with Buddha’s Hand zest in any recipe and you’ll notice the difference immediately. A simple syrup made with Buddha’s Hand infuses its wonderful, sweet citrus flavor into cocktails, iced & hot tea and other beverages. Candied or crystallized Buddha’s Hand is great for nibbling or for use in fruitcake or muffins. Mix up a batch of your favorite cocktails with Buddha’s Hand-infused spirits for a truly mind-blowing experience (more about that in a subsequent post!).
But one of our favorite things to make with Buddha’s Hand is the following marmalade, tarted up with a little help from another sweet citrus, the Meyer Lemon. This is simply one of the best marmalades we’ve ever tasted, and we’re not just saying that because we made it ourselves. Easy to make, it’s even easier to eat. Try it slathered on everything from toasted English Muffins to tender crepes to fresh-baked scones. It even makes a great last-second glaze for roasted poultry or pork. We’re sure you’ll find a thousand different ways to enjoy the unique flavor of the odd, but easy-to-love Buddha’s Hand.
Buddha’s Hand Citron & Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Thoroughly wash the Buddha’s Hand and Meyer lemons with cold water. Pat dry and set aside.
Cut the Buddha’s Hand into quarters. If there is a LOT of white pith in the center, you can try cutting away a bit, but unless it’s excessive, don’t bother. The pith contains pectin, which will help the marmalade to “jell.” Thinly slice the Buddha’s Hand and set aside for a moment.
Cut off the stem of the Meyer lemons, quarter them and remove any visible seeds. Thinly slice the lemons, rind, flesh and all, and place in bowl.
Add the sliced Buddha’s Hand & Meyer lemon peel, pulp & juice, sugar and water to a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or other non-reactive pot. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to a low, but steady boil & simmer mixture for about 45 – 60 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir occasionally as the liquid reduces & thickens.
Simmer until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees or until the liquid becomes very thick. Watch the marmalade carefully at this point, as it can easily boil over as it approaches jelling temperature (please don’t ask how we know this!). When the marmalade coats a spoon without running, it’s done.
At this point, you’ll need to decide how you want to store your marmalade. Your two best options are to either a) keep your marmalade in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or b) seal your marmalade in canning jars for shelf-stable long term storage.
If you decide to keep your marmalade in the refrigerator, all you need to do is allow the marmalade to cool slightly and spoon it into clean jars or refrigerator containers. Top tightly and allow to cool to room temperature, then put them in the fridge.
If you want to go the traditional canning method, you’ll have to sterilize 2 – 3 pint glass canning jars and lids in boiling water or a hot oven. Remove the jars from the water & drain briefly. While still very hot, fill the sterilized jars with the hot marmalade, leaving at least ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel & top with the clean, sterilized lids. Screw the rings on and process in a boiling water bath for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the hot water, place on a rack and allow to cool.
For more information on safe canning methods, visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
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