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need a hand?

Recipe: candied citron

At last, the cookie baking is done! Now we are in overdrive tidying up around here and doing a little upgrading in the process. There has been no new snow and it was downright HOT in Boulder on Wednesday. 65°F is a heat wave for me and especially so when trying on alpine mountaineering jackets. Hot and shopping do not go well together. Gah! But it was warm enough for someone to get a bath in the driveway… not us, the dog.


she was none too thrilled about it

replacing my 15-year old track skis with these lovelies



We have a fluffy, clean, lavender-scented puppy and a semi-clean house (we’re getting there). It feels so good to have all of the baking done and most of the deliveries made. It stresses the hell out of me. But to see the smile on someone’s face or the joy in their voice when they are handed a bag of homemade goodies – a bag of love – it’s all worth it. Totally worth it. One of the seasonal favorites year after year is this lemon ginger cookie. A few years ago, I nearly panicked because I couldn’t find candied lemon peel (or candied citron) anywhere in town. I discovered that one specific Safeway location carries it for a short period before the holidays. But that year, they were cleaned out. Well, that’s no good. So I set about making my own.

enter the buddha’s hand



It’s a funky looking fruit that most people make weird faces at when they see it in the produce display. Every time I see Buddha’s hand, I hold one to my nose and inhale deeply. The scent is heavenly. I am obsessed with it. Todd and Diane introduced me to it because it grows in their paradise of a garden. Once, Diane posted a photo of a large green Buddha’s hand on the tree and wrote, “Jen, this one is yours.” Sure enough, a few weeks later I got a package in the mail with two huge and gorgeous Buddha’s hands from their garden. It’s one of the best care packages ever (second only to a box full of fresh passion fruits).

dice the citron

blanch in water for 30-40 minutes, then drain

add sugar and fresh water to the citron



I started making vodka infusions with the fruit, because it made for beautiful gifts as well as awesome lemon drop martinis. Then came the holiday season when I couldn’t find candied citron and discovered how easy it was to make at home.

stir to dissolve the sugar over medium heat

cook to 230°F (yes, use a candy thermometer)

when done, let the citron rest in the syrup for an hour



There is no “fruit” inside the Buddha’s hand like you would expect of other citrus, it’s all pith and peel. However, it’s all fabulously fragrant pith and peel that turns into a translucent, floral and lemony delight. Use it in fruitcakes, cookies, pastries. It is ten times better than the stuff you find in the grocery stores, and you get a flavored sugar syrup (to make cocktails, spritzers, cakes, etc.) as a by-product to boot!

like stained glass

in lemon ginger cookie form



Candied Citron
[print recipe]
from David Lebovitz

1-2 lbs. Buddha’s hand (about 2 medium)
3 cups (600 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) water
extra sugar for tossing (optional)

Wash and dry the Buddha’s hand(s). Break down each fruit and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the Buddha’s hand in a large pot and cover with twice as much water as required to just cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. The citron should be translucent when done. Drain the water off. Place the sugar, 2 cups of fresh water, and the citron in the pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of your pan and cook the mixture to 230°F (213°F at 8500 ft.). Start stirring as the contents of the pan thicken to prevent burning the citron. Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour. Store the citron in the syrup in the refrigerator for up to a year or strain the excess syrup away (as much as you can) and toss with sugar. Reserve the syrup for other uses like cocktails or spritzers. Lay the pieces out to dry overnight, shake off excess sugar and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Makes 2-4 cups (depending on size of the Buddha’s hand).


more goodness from the use real butter archives

candied lemon slices candied orange peels chocolate-dipped orange peel cookies chocolate-covered candied grapefruit

10 nibbles at “need a hand?”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    So fun!! I love this idea!

  2. Alex says:

    Beautiful! This would be delicious somehow paired with earl grey tea…my imagination is going wild!

  3. farmerpam says:

    You’re at the cookie stage I plan to be at by tomorrow. One more cookie to try, two more boxes to ship, house to gussy up, and I even hope to shampoo the dog. My pup hates to get in the bathtub, lucky Kaewah with 65 degree temps. However, I hope the temps plummet and the skies drop tons of snow on Colorado, and happy, merry holiday to you and yours. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and tales of the western slopes.

  4. Danguole says:

    Oooh. I bought one recently and after using a few strips for cocktails, wasn’t quite sure what to do with the rest…. This is obviously my answer!

  5. Betty McG says:

    Delightful! As usual you have saved me the time of searching the internet for instructions on candying the Hands I found on sale yesterday at Whole Foods. Your beautiful posts on Buddha Hand Citron have intrigued me for some time. I do have Italian recipes for Citron but could never find any fruits to try the recipes. I plan to candy part of my find and infuse vodka with the rest of it. (And thanks more for posting that you also candy the pith, it just all smells so wonderful I couldn’t just toss it.)

    Poor dear Kaweah, she gets a fantastic birthday bash and then just a few days later the dreaded bath! Time for her to get a bit more cuddle time and a few extra bits of people food that isn’t bad for puppies to have too!

  6. Pey-Lih says:

    Never seen Buddha’s hand before- this is very interesting! I love the look of those square cookies and pairing it with earl grey tea (as suggested by Alex) sounds like a perfect getaway from the cold and rain. It snowed big flakes outside the other day. Happy holidays! Look forward to seeing what recipes you have in store, and yes, I will take a handful of those cookies please.

  7. Trolleira says:

    Try to slice the fruit in thin slices an when they candied, roll them in sugar and serve to a cup of coffee – heaven!
    Happy holidays from Brazil!

  8. jenyu says:

    Katrina – thanks!

    Alex – ooh, great idea.

    farmerpam – oh, Kaweah was not so fortunate as to get 65°F temps. It was 65 down in Boulder. We live in Nederland, where it was in the low 40s :) But we did get snow and skiing for the holidays!

    Danguole – you can also infuse vodka with it (it’s heavenly)!

    Betty – great that you found it on sale! And I too was glad I could candy the pith, because it’s too expensive (and perfumey) to toss out! :)

    Pey-Lih – They can be hard to find. It’s only been the last 4 or so years that our local grocer has started carrying Buddha’s hand.

    Trolleira – oh wow, thank you! :)

  9. Melanie says:

    Love the picture of Kaweah getting a bath. My former husband has a dog that is a bit older and he gets baths out in the yard when the weather is warm. Like Kaweah, Deepak got a bath on one of those 60+ degree days recently. Deepak used to get his baths at a do-it-yourself dogwash but has trouble walking the ramp to the tub (even the really low tub) and doesn’t stand easily for longer periods of time. So, he just gets his baths in the backyard where he can lie down! Love when people make accommodations for their pets as they age. Anywho, long story to say that I love seeing Kaweah and hearing about how you love her.

  10. A_Boleyn says:

    I’ve got to keep an eye out for Buddah’s hand and give this citron recipe a try. I hope to make my own fruit cake next year and it would be wonderful to be able to include my own candied citron in it.

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