Buddha’s Hand Citron Liqueur – Step 1

So… as mentioned in my post about my first (and definitely NOT last) visit to Russo’s Market, I bought a Buddha’s Hand. This stranger-than-fiction fruit is supposedly the first citrus fruit introduced to the modern world (Europe) — having come originally from Northeastern India.

It is a type of citron and is sometimes called “Fingered Citron” — due to the long, slender, finger-like appendages that sprout from it’s base. Before my friend Pam (who writes the blog Cave Cibum) introduced me to the fruit in one of her blog posts (where she used it to infuse vodka), I had never heard of it.

It’s pretty fricken cool though, isn’t it???

I was inspired by Pam and decided to do some infusing myself. Rather than straight-up, infused vodka… I am going for the long haul and trying my hand (pun intended) at making Liqueur — a first for me. Hence, fulfilling resolution #1 for week 3 of the new year! 🙂

I did a little research online, combined a few ideas and opted for the most basic of recipes. All you need is vodka, fruit, sugar and a clean glass container with a tight fitting lid.

Buddha's Hand
I began by cutting the hand in half. My first observation? This thing has NO FRUIT pulp inside of it… just pith!The pith of the Buddha’s hand isn’t bitter like other citron fruit… you can even nibble on it raw (I tried), without that lemon-pucker face. The aroma it gives off (before) and after cutting is intensely amazing. Imagine the strongest, sweetest, lemony scent you’ve ever smelled… without any sour or bitter overtones. It is said that in China, families often hang a whole Buddha’s hand in their home to keep the air smelling fresh. I believe it.

After slicing off each of the fingers, I did my best to roughly chop up all of the pith and skin located at the base of the fruit (where the stem was). I added these to my clean glass jar.

What was left was a “finger forest” — which was very Tim Burton looking (think Nightmare Before Christmas)…

Next, I selected the two largest fingers and used a cheese grater to zest them down to the nub. I have a microplane grater, but opted for a more coarsely grated zest. These heaping piles went into the jar as well.

Lastly, I poured Ketel One vodka over the chopped fruit and zest. When normally making infused alcohols, it is best to leave the level of alcohol just above where the fruit tops off. In this case, I went a good inch or two above my fruit since the peel has such an intense flavor and aroma.

I did a little “shaky shaky” and viola! This is the end product. This container will now sit for the next two weeks. I will give it a swirl and a shake every few days and then at the end of the two weeks I will have infused vodka.

To continue on and turn this elixir into a liqueur, I need to add simple syrup to the mixture at the end of the two weeks — and then let it sit for another two weeks. It seems that the general rule of thumb is to add simple syrup equaling 50% of the volume of alcohol — which means I will need to transfer this to a larger jar. I haven’t decided if I will use plain simple syrup or if I will first infuse it with some herbs prior (I’m thinking either rosemary or mint).

Check back in a few weeks to see how things are coming along! It smells great already…

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