Friday, July 22, 2011
Chatter 37 Buddha's hand Citron
It is not surprising that a fruit as unusual as this should be surrounded by more mythology than most. It's a variation on a citron which appears to have developed about 1000 years ago in China. The citron seems to have originated in India, before making its way to China and Japan, and has been known for almost 3000 years.
It is characterized by a pleasant strong citrus like aroma causing it to be used in clothes cupboards where it is thought , by some. to kill moths. Despite being inedible, with a thick rind and minimal core of fruit it is also left in fruit bowls to perfume rooms. The zest is tasty and the skin can be candied. It has a reputation as an antidote to poisons, but I would not rely on it, and is regarded as a holy fruit by the Jews who use it at the Feast of the Tabernacles (Shavuot)
It grows well in temperate climates. Curiously, although they always have more than five 'fingers' descriptions of the fruit almost invariably describe it as having five fingers, even when accompanied by photographs clearly depicting more than that!
This example was given to me by Louis Glowinski, author of the definitive book "Fruit Growing in Australia" and was grown in his garden in Caulfield, an inner Melbourne suburb.