Buddha's Hand at the Ferry Building Farmers Market

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This weird, but interesting looking citron is called a "Buddha's Hand" and was purchased at today's farmers market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It's scent is similar to a Meyers lemon, but more intense and slightly sweeter. I brought one home to show Naoki, since he has an interest in photographing strange things (you'll probably see it on his blog later)

Along with my buddha's hand lemon, I picked up one "pain epi" wheat bread (it's shaped like a stalk of wheat) at Acme Bread Company, and two organic oranges to make cranberry/orange relish. While walking back to the office, I broke my bread in half to share with someone on the street and stashed the other half in my bag containing the buddha's hand. The aroma of the fresh baked bread and citrus together created a wonderful smell!

The best part of eating that bread this evening was the light lemon taste it took on from the oils in the citron. It was perfect alone, though I did eat it with a small piece of pepper jack.

Grown primarily as a novelty, this large yellow citron looks like a large, lumpy lemon. Known as "fo-shou" in China and "bushukan" in Japan, the impressive Buddha's Hand is considered a symbol of happiness, longevity, and good fortune. This traditional temple offering and New Year’s gift is closely related to the lemon. It has an intense and long-lasting fragrance which makes it an excellent choice for a table ornament. The rind is very thick and extremely aromatic and can be grated for use in recipes that call for lemon zest, such as biscotti, fruit compotes, casseroles, and soufflés.

From Wikipedia -

Buddha's Hand, Buddha's Hand citron, or Fingered citron (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus) is a fragrant citrus fruit. It grows on a shrub or small tree with long, irregular branches covered in thorns. Its large, oblong leaves are pale green and grow about four to six inches. Its flowers are white or purplish and grow in fragrant clusters.

The fruit itself is a type of citron and is often described as lemon-like. The fruit is segmented into finger-like sections. It has a thick peel and a small amount of acidic flesh and is seedless and juiceless. It is very fragrant and is used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and personal items, such as clothing.

The peel of the fruit can be candied. In Western cooking, it is often used for its zest. The inner white pith is not bitter as is usually the case with citrus, so the fingers may be cut off and then longitudinally sliced, peel pith and all, and used in salads or scattered over cooked foods such as fish.

The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. It is preferred when the "fingers" of the fruit are in a position where they resemble a closed hand rather than open, as closed hands symbolize the act of prayer.

The origin of Buddha's Hand is traced back to Northeastern India and is believed to be the first citrus fruit known in Europe. It is speculated that the Greeks and Romans brought them back from Asia.

The tree itself is sensitive to frost, as well as intense heat and drought. It grows best in temperate conditions. Areas such as the coast of Southern California as well as inland valleys are considered ideal for its planting. Trees can be grown from cuttings taken from branches two to four years old that are quickly buried deeply in soil without defoliation.

In some areas it is given the name Goblin Fingers.

Jeanette Lee Hada

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