Buddha's Hand Citron Offers An Incredible Amount Of Zest

There are plenty of odd and unique foods in the world that are still finding their footing in the United States. Better Health Magazine explains the cherimoya, which tastes like a creamy cross between a pineapple and a banana, and the jabuticaba, which looks like a plum and tastes like a grape, are among some of those you might encounter from time to time in the produce aisle. But one that might give you pause goes by the name Buddha's hand or fingered citron, as it is often called, and it's definitely a conversation starter.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Buddha's hand hails from India and China and is especially popular during the new year because it is purported to be a symbol of both "wealth" and "longevity." Hard to imagine when you consider it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. With its long, bumpy, and contorted-looking clump of fingers, it may have you wondering how you eat or even add this bizarre-looking fruit to your culinary repertoire. The Spruce Eats shares Buddha's hand is in season around the same time as grapefruits, so you can expect to find it during winter months. They're excellent for their zest, and here's why.

More zest than the rest

Believe it or not, the University of Missouri explains that while the skin of Buddha's hand is yellow like a lemon, it contains little to no fruit, seeds, or juice. In fact, the Spruce Eats notes underneath that yellow exterior is nothing but pith. But the fingered citron still has plenty to offer. This fruit has more zest than the rest. That's right; all those crooked fingers can be used for their zest.

Smithsonian Magazine reports the zest from a Buddha's hand is the perfect substitute for those recipes calling for citrus. Making a homemade Lemon Drop, the zest from a Buddha's hand will make it artisanal. Because it is sweet and fragrant, it is also delicious candied. But the Spruce Eats cautions that while its taste and aroma are beautiful, it can also be overwhelming in foods, so use it in moderation. However, it should be noted that Buddha's hand is a bit pricier than a lemon. Smithsonian Magazine says it will run you about $24 per pound, so get every last bit of that zest. But don't worry about using it up quickly; a Buddha's hand can keep in the fridge for up to a month.