A hand symbolizes a gesture to meet, a gesture to say hello and goodbye. A hand is a tool for opening doors and talking on the phone, but most of all a hand is a practical catalyst for eating food. While conducting my weekly grocery store trip at the Whole Foods on Washington Street in Newton, I ran across a peculiar use for a hand.
I’m talking about the citrus fruit, Buddha’s hand (or Fingered Citron). The name derives from is mangled and twisted, hand-like shape with extending finger-like tendrils. At first glance this fruit looks like a distorted lemon, and coincidentally it very much tastes like one too. Split open, however, and you will not find a wet, fruitful core, but rather a center of solid, white pith.
This abundance of dense pith is a great agent for making marmalade because the viscous nature of marmalade is made possible by the natural pectin found in citrus fruits, most abundantly in the pith. Buddha’s Hand also lends itself as a lush flavor for marmalade because, unlike its tart counterpart, it is more flowery in flavor and won’t make your cheeks pucker and your tongue tingle.
Buddha’s Hand and Thyme Marmalade
- 1 whole Buddha’s Hand
- 1 sprig of thyme. Remove the leaves from the stem
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- ¼ grapefruit
- With a microplane, zest the yellow layer of the entire Buddha’s Hand. In a medium-sized saucepan, soak the zest and thyme in 3 cups of water for one hour. In the meantime, using a vegetable peeler, peel about 20 strips from the zested Buddha’s hand. These peeling should be from the white, pithy part of the fruit as this part contains most of the pectin or the natural thickening agent. Using cheesecloth or loose-leaf tea bags, make one or two small pouches containing the peelings. Tie closed with cooking twine.
- Turn the stove on high, and bring the water and zest mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and continue to gently boil this mixture for 25-30 minutes. Stir in the sugar to dissolve, squeeze in the juice from the grapefruit, and add the cheesecloth pouches. Bring the mixture to a boil again at medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until the mixture reaches 220?-222,? using a candy thermometer. (Make sure the candy thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan as this will give an inaccurate reading).
- While the marmalade mixture is in its second stage of boiling, sterilize two mason jars by completely submerging both the jars and the lids in a bath of boiling water. You can also achieve sterilization by placing the jars and lids in a 200? oven for 15 minutes.
- Once the marmalade mixture has reached the correct temperature, pour the mixture directly into the jars. Seal lids tightly and let sit over night.