Buddha’s Hand “Bushukan” Citrus: How to Cut, Use, and Where to Buy

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The Buddha’s hand citrus is a unique fruit with a strange shape that resembles a hand. It’s also known as the fingered citron.

In Japanese it is called bushukan (ブッシュカン). The different cultivars and variations of this citron variety form a gradient from “open-hand” types with outward-splayed segments to “closed-hand” types, in which the fingers are kept together.

Let’s take a closer look at what this fruit is, what it looks like, and how it’s used. Plus, I’ll tell you some interesting facts about it.

What is the buddha's hand citrus

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Discovering the Unusual and Lovely Buddha’s Hand Citrus

Buddha’s Hand Citrus has a bright and lemony flavor, and it adds a lovely aroma to any dish or recipe. The fruit is a little bit bitter, but it is not as sour as lemons or oranges. The zest is mainly used in food preparation, and it adds a unique flavor to any dish or recipe.

What is the Meaning of Buddha’s Hand Citrus?

Buddha’s Hand Citrus is a fruit that has a long history and is rich in symbolism. In Việt,粵語, and中文, the fruit is called “fingered citron,” and it is mainly used in religious ceremonies. The fruit is also called “the hand of Buddha,” and it is a symbol of good luck, happiness, and longevity.

What is the Botanical and Varietal Classification of Buddha’s Hand Citrus?

Buddha’s Hand Citrus is derived from the Greek word “sarkos dactylos,” which means “fleshless finger.” The fruit is classified as a fingered citron variety, and it belongs to the botanical species Citrus medica. The fruit is also known as Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis.

Get Ready to Taste the Unique Flavor of Buddha’s Hand Citrus

When you first see a Buddha’s Hand fruit, you might be surprised by its appearance. The fruit is large and resembles a hand with fingers that are elongated and twisted, like a hand in prayer. The skin of the fruit is thick and primarily white, with a mild aroma that is floral and fragrant. The aroma is so intense that you’ll notice it even before you cut into the fruit.

Taste and Texture

The taste of Buddha’s Hand is surprisingly unique. Unlike other citrus fruits, Buddha’s Hand doesn’t have any pulp or juice. Instead, it is primarily made up of the thick rind and the white pith underneath. The rind is edible and has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that is intensely citrusy. The texture of the rind is thick and chewy, similar to the texture of a citron.

Zest and Oil

One of the most popular uses for Buddha’s Hand is to zest the fruit. The zest is incredibly fragrant and has a floral, citrusy aroma that is perfect for adding to baked goods or cocktails. The oil from the fruit is also used in some recipes, as it has a unique combination of bitter and sweet flavors.

Recipes and Pairings

Buddha’s Hand is a versatile fruit that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some ideas for how to use it:

  • Use the zest in baked goods, such as cakes or cookies
  • Add the zest to cocktails for a unique twist
  • Use the rind to infuse vodka or other spirits
  • Use the rind to make candied citrus peel
  • Pair the fruit with cheese or dark chocolate for a sweet and savory combination

The Remarkable History and Geography of Buddha’s Hand Citrus

The Buddha’s Hand Citrus was developed in China and was cultivated in the area for centuries. The fruit was used in traditional Chinese medicine and was also used as an ingredient in different dishes. The citron fruit was also historically cultivated in India and was used in religious ceremonies.

The Buddha’s Hand Citrus was introduced to Japan in the 18th century and was called “citronjapanese.” It was also introduced to Europe by a German botanist named Johann Christoph Volckamer in the 18th century.

In the 19th century, the Buddha’s Hand Citrus was introduced to the United States and was cultivated in California. Today, the fruit is grown in multiple areas around the world, including the Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden in France, the Wellcome Trust in the UK, and the Villa di Castello in Italy.

The Different Types and Ingredients of Buddha’s Hand Citrus

There are multiple types of Buddha’s Hand Citrus, including the fully open hand and the semi-dwarf hand. The fruit is used in different dishes and is known for its fragrant aroma. The fruit is also used in making marmalade and is used as a garnish for cocktails.

The Buddha’s Hand Citrus is a unique fruit that has a long and remarkable history. It is a testament to the natural and artificial development of citrus fruits and the multiple uses of these fruits in different cultures.

How to Slice and Dice Buddha’s Hand Citrus

When selecting a Buddha’s Hand, look for brightly colored fruit with no soft spots or limp fingers. The fruit should be firm and the fingers should be separated, not curling in on themselves. Buddha’s Hand is available in different varieties, so choose the type that suits your needs. Note that the fruit is sold in late fall and winter, so it’s a seasonal specialty that can be found in Asian specialty stores.

Cutting the Fruit

To cut the fruit, place it on a flat surface with the base facing down. Slice the fruit longways, separating it into two halves. Then, slice each half separately into fingered sections. You can use the fingers whole or chop them into smaller pieces. The pulp inside is not typically eaten, but the zest can be grated and used in food or drinks.

Avoiding Bitterness

If you want to avoid the bitter taste of Buddha’s Hand, you can soak the zest in water for a few hours before using it. This will help to remove some of the bitterness. Another way to use the fruit without the bitterness is to candy the fingers. This involves boiling the fingers in sugar syrup until they become translucent and sweet.

Unleashing the Power of Buddha’s Hand Citrus: A Closer Look at Its Uses

Before we dive into the various uses of Buddha’s Hand citrus, let’s take a closer look at its anatomy. As the name suggests, this citrus fruit resembles a hand with finger-like protrusions. The fruit is typically yellow, but can also be green or orange, and ranges in size from small to large.

When you view an image of Buddha’s Hand, you’ll notice that it has a thick rind and little to no pulp or juice. This makes it ideal for using the zest, which is the outermost layer of the rind, in a variety of preparations.

Using Buddha’s Hand Zest

The zest of Buddha’s Hand citrus has a strong lemony aroma and flavor, making it a popular ingredient in many dishes and beverages. Here are some ways to use Buddha’s Hand zest:

  • Shave the zest with a microplane or zester and use it to flavor dishes like salads, pasta, and seafood.
  • Infuse the zest in vodka or gin to make a refreshing citrusy beverage.
  • Use the zest to make candies or syrups for cocktails.
  • Add the zest to baked goods like cakes and cookies for a lemony twist.

Raw, Concentrated, Cooked: Preparing Buddha’s Hand Citrus

While the zest is the most commonly used part of Buddha’s Hand, the fruit can also be eaten in its raw or cooked form. Here are some ways to prepare Buddha’s Hand:

  • Raw: Slice the fruit and eat it as a refreshing snack. The flesh is sour, but the rind is sweet and fragrant.
  • Concentrated: Boil the fruit in water to make a concentrated syrup that can be used in cocktails or desserts.
  • Cooked: Use the fruit in savory dishes like stir-fries or stews. The rind can be candied and used as a garnish.

Get Creative with Buddha’s Hand Citrus: A Guide to Using This Unique Fruit

Before using Buddha’s Hand, it’s important to prepare it properly. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Wash the fruit thoroughly and dry it with a towel.
  • Cut off the base of the fruit so that it can stand upright on a cutting board.
  • Use a sharp knife to shave off the zest of the fruit. The zest is bright yellow and lemony in flavor.
  • Separate the fingers of the fruit and break them apart.
  • Grate the zest or cut the fingers into slices, depending on the recipe you’re making.

Using Buddha’s Hand in Raw Preparations

Buddha’s Hand is mainly used for its zest and not its pulp. Here are some ways to use it raw:

  • Add grated zest to salads for a lovely citrus flavor.
  • Infuse vodka or other spirits with concentrated Buddha’s Hand peel for a unique beverage.
  • Use the zest to create a strong lemony flavor in dishes.

Using the Albedo

The albedo, or the white pithy part of the fruit, is bitter and not commonly eaten. However, it can be used in some culinary preparations:

  • Use the albedo to infuse simple syrup for cocktails.
  • Add it to marmalades for a solid texture.
  • Use it to create a sour flavor in dishes.

Note on Storage

Buddha’s Hand can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can also be canned or frozen for longer storage.

Where to Find and Buy Buddha’s Hand Citrus?

If you’re looking for a fresh Buddha’s Hand citrus, your local markets and grocery stores are a good place to start. Look for the citrus section and keep an eye out for the unique, fingered fruit. You might not always find it, but it’s worth checking out.

Online Stores

If you’re having trouble finding Buddha’s Hand in your local stores, you can always turn to online stores. There are a variety of online stores that offer fresh Buddha’s Hand citrus, including Amazon and specialty fruit stores.

Instacart App

If you’re short on time or don’t want to leave the house, you can use the Instacart app to have fresh Buddha’s Hand citrus delivered right to your doorstep. Simply search for the fruit on the app and choose the quantity you want.

Organic Markets

If you’re looking for an organic Buddha’s Hand citrus, check out your local organic markets. They often carry a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, including Buddha’s Hand.

Candy and Treat Stores

Buddha’s Hand citrus is not only good for eating, but it’s also great for making candy and other treats. Look for candy and treat stores that offer Buddha’s Hand as an ingredient.

Ornamental Display

Buddha’s Hand citrus is not only delicious but also makes for a nice ornamental display. Look for the fruit in stores that offer ornamental fruits and vegetables.

Baked Goods and Salad Dressing

Buddha’s Hand citrus is a versatile fruit that can be used in a variety of ways. Try using the zest to add a citrusy flavor to baked goods or salad dressings.

Health Benefits

Buddha’s Hand citrus contains a high amount of vitamin C and other dietary compounds that can help with inflammation and pain. It also works as an expectorant to clear coughs.

Unleashing the Nutritional Value of Buddha’s Hand Citrus

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, Buddha’s Hand Citrus is a rich source of major nutrients that are essential for the body. Some of these nutrients include:

  • Vitamin C (mg): 137
  • Calcium (mg): 136
  • Protein (g): 2.5
  • Phosphorus (mg): 62
  • Niacin (mg): 0.6
  • Iron (mg): 0.9
  • Thiamine (mg): 0.1
  • Riboflavin (mg): 0.1
  • Sodium (mg): 2

Thick Rinds, High Nutritional Content

Buddha’s Hand Citrus is known for its thick rinds, which are often discarded by many people. However, these rinds are a rich source of organic compounds and nutrients that are beneficial to the body. The rinds contain high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients that are not found in the fruit itself.

Guidance for Reporting Nutritional Information

As with all foods, suppliers of Buddha’s Hand Citrus are obligated to provide accurate and complete nutritional information based on expected serving sizes. The literature on this fruit’s nutritional content is still limited, so it is important to rely on scientific information and guidance from national nutrient reporting agencies when reporting its nutritional value.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about the Buddha’s hand citrus. It’s a unique fruit with a long history and rich symbolism, and it’s perfect for adding a unique flavor to your dishes. So go ahead and give it a try!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.