Buddha’s Hand

Bruce and Cyndee Fehring have been farming on Kauai since 1987. Although not certified organic, they use natural and organic farming methods to grow fruit and vegetables on 7.6 acres. Two mini Jersey cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, and turkeys are raised for soil amendments and family meals.

The family maintains a farm stand on Wailapa Road near Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. They sell eggs and honey from their farm as well as fresh fruit juices, frozen white pineapple desserts and popsicles such as banana coconut, soursop coconut, pineapple mint, avocado lime, avocado chocolate, Jamaican passion fruit coconut, orange passion fruit, grapefruit rosemary, lemon ginger, orange coconut, Meyer lemon coconut and Tahitian lime mint.

What’s growing now

Apple bananas, arugula, baby lettuce mix, basil, beets, braising greens mix, Buddha’s Hand citrus, bunching onions, carrots, chard, chayote, chives, cilantro, citron, coffee, collard greens, cucumber, daikon, dandelion greens, eggplant, ginger, grapefruit, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lemons, lemongrass, lilikoi (Jamaican, yellow), limes, loquat, mangos, mint, mizuna, mustard greens, okra, onion, oranges, oregano, pak choi, papayas, parsley, peppers (Hawaiian, sweet, and spicy), radish, rosemary, sorrel, soursop, star fruit, string beans, sweet potatoes (Okinawan purple, Hawaiian white, and Molokai purple), taro, tatsoi, tamarind, tangelos, tangerines, thyme, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips and white pineapple.

Buddha’s Hand

Buddha’s hand is an exquisitely fragrant citron variety that looks like a cross between a lemon and a giant squid. Some varieties have more fingers than others, but the outside is covered in bright yellow skin, which makes an excellent zest. Inside, there is only seedless pith, which is sweet, floral and juicy. As a whole, the flavor is delicate with no hint of sour, bitter or tart. Buddha’s hand can be used as a vegetable and eaten raw or lightly cooked.

In Japan and China, the fruit is used for perfuming rooms and clothing. Other names include Five Finger Mandarin, Fragrant Citron and Fingered Citron. Scholars believe that sometime after the fourth century CE, Buddhist monks carried this graceful oddity from India to China, where it came to symbolize happiness, wealth and longevity. The golden fruit is popular at New Year’s, because it’s believed to bestow good fortune on a household.

Season

Buddha’s hand bears main crops during the fall and winter, though it may produce fruit throughout the year.

What to look for

Select fragrant fruit that is heavy for its size and look for glossy skin. Avoid those with soft spots, or dull and dry skin.

Storage

The fruit is quite large, so I cut off as much as I need, place plastic wrap over the top, secure it with a rubber band and store in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

Preparation

Buddha’s Hand adds a refreshing floral note to many dishes. It can be grated and added to ceviche, garden salad, kale salad and coleslaw, or sliced thinly and added to spring rolls and salad dressings. For cooked preparations, finely dice and add to scrambled eggs, sautéed greens, in stir-fries, soups or as a garnish for risotto. It can be used in desserts (such as rice pudding), simple syrups, alcoholic beverages (such as vodka or limoncello) and for making preserves. Zest can be used to make tea or in citrus chiffon cake.

For a quick weeknight meal, sauté cubes of tofu until golden. Add 2 cups of green beans and cook until tender. Add one minced garlic clove, 2 cups of leftover pasta, rice or quinoa and 1/3 cup diced Buddha’s hand. Stir until warmed through.

Buddha’s hand pairs well with white fish, shellfish, cream, honey, orange, vanilla, mint, rosemary and basil.

Tip: Cook Buddha’s hand lightly because long cooking times make it slightly bitter. Just add at the end of the preparation, until heated through. The flesh should be moist and almost translucent.

Health benefits

As a common Chinese herb, Buddha’s hand is viewed as acrid, bitter, and sour in taste and warm in properties. It covers liver, spleen and lung meridians. Its most important functions stretch the liver to smooth Qi and harmonizes the stomach to relieve pain. Main citron uses and indications are for liver-stomach Qi depression; reduced appetite and vomiting; fullness in chest and rib cage; fullness, distention or pain in the stomach.

Fehring Family Farm produce can be found at:

Farmers Markets: Saturdays at Namahana (9 a.m. to 1 p.m). For more information, call Cyndee at 652-5874.

Marta Lane has been a food writer on Kauai since 2010. She graduated from a 12-week organic farming course on the North Shore and went on to become the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture manager. Marta is the author of Tasting Kauai: Restaurants – From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, A Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island. For more information, visit www.TastingKauai.com.

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