“Good Luck Buddhacello” made with Buddha’s Hand Citron

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In December of 2011 I posted my “Buddha’s Hand Good Luck Marmalade” recipe and to date it is still one of my most popular posts. It even got a mention in an article on Smithsonian.com written by K. Annabelle Smith, “What the Heck Do I Do with a Buddha’s Hand?” from which I still get a few hits every week. Thanks K. Annabelle.

This most mysterious of the citrons are once again showing up in the markets…only in December in Nashville does the Buddha’s Hand, or “finger citron” for obvious reasons, appear for a few short weeks.

Buddha's Hand Still Life on Gingko Leaves, 5th Avenue North
Buddha’s Hand Still Life on Gingko Leaves, 5th Avenue North

I am not sure why I am so seduced but each winter I purchase a few. They spend some time in our fruit bowl ripening and scenting the entire house with a light citrus aroma. Very subtle but pleasing. Anyone who drops by is equally smitten. Friends pick them up and play with them…you know who you are e.e….smell them, turn and twist them and finally ask what in heck they are.  All in all they are lots of fun to have around before I actually do something with them in the kitchen.

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e.e. with Buddha’s Hands…

“Buddhacello” liqueur is this year’s recipe.  As well as Candied Buddha’s Hand that is  yummy decorating the top of a cake,  and a very aromatic simple syrup for drizzling on pound cakes or adding to some Holiday cocktails….. all of which from these two Buddha’s Hand Citrons.

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(In previous posts I have shared my “Mellow Yellow Limoncello” and “Blood Orangecello” recipes and stories.) The process is simple but the finished liqueur is anything but….

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A vegetable peeler and a bottle of good vodka…..

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….a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for holding the liquid and for safe shaking…

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…and patience is a good thing as well. The wait will be worth it.

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Two words….”dark place”. Yes, put this jar of glowing yellow into a dark, cool place…a closet or cabinet…for 4  to 6 weeks. Shake every so often. If you start now you can have your own Buddhacello ready for gift giving or sipping on cold winter nights.

Meanwhile….tick, tock…tick, tock..the days pass…lots of things to do….cold and dark nights….inside the dark place chemistry is happening….

After 4 weeks, I strain out the peel, add some of the simple syrup left over from making the candied peel to the vodka mixture and leave in the “dark place” one more week….decant into individual bottles. Store a bottle in the freezer and serve icy cold straight or with a splash of soda water over ice or added to a hot toddy to make a cold night warmer.

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Good Luck Buddhacello

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Buddha’s Hand Citron (or use grapefruit, orange, or lemon peel)
  • 6 cups good Vodka
  • 1 cup simple syrup – 1 cup water melted in 1 cup water or use the syrup from the candied peel if you make this

Directions for Buddhacello:

  1. Using a sharp vegetable peeler remove peel & pith to make at least 3 cups of strips.
  2. Place strips of Buddha’s Hand into a large glass jar.
  3. Pour in vodka, tighten lid and shake well.
  4. Place jar in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking a few times a week.
  5. After the 4 to 6 weeks, strain out the peel from the vodka and stir in 1 cup of Buddha’s Hand simple syrup saved from making candied peel, or any plain store-bought or homemade simple syrup.
  6. For making a simple syrup at home put 1 cup sugar plus 1 cup water in a sauce pan over med high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often until sugar is melted. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  7. Tighten the lid on the jar, shake well and return to the cool dark closet or cabinet for another week. Strain & decant Buddhacello Liqueur into individual bottles or jars. Store or give as gifts.
  8. Serve icy cold straight, or over ice with a splash of soda water. Also makes a great drizzle over pound cake or ice cream.

Directions for Candied Peel:

  1.  Chop 2 cups of Buddha’s Hand Citron into small chunks. Place in a pan of water and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the chunks are somewhat transparent. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Place chunks in a larger pan with just enough water to cover and 2 cups white sugar. Bring to a low boil, stirring often. Turn to simmer. Cook until a candy thermometer reads about 200 to 225 degrees. Remove pan from heat. Let sit for about 1 hour to cool down.
  3. Pour candied chunks of Buddha’s Hand into a strainer set over a bowl to catch the syrup. Let drain for about 30 minutes. Reserve syrup, storing in a glass jar in the refrigerator until ready to use for other recipes.
  4. Toss candied chunks in a bowl with 1 cup of sugar until pieces are well coated. Scrape out onto a cooling rack set over a parchment paper covered pan. Leave overnight to harden. Shake to remove excess sugar & store in an airtight tin or jar. Great for topping desserts or adding to cookies.

Teresa Blackburn   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com   http://www.foodonfifth.com

Blood Orangecello and Bootlegging

My beautiful bottles of Blood Orangecello Liqueur.

 Cold Blood Orangecello, Straight Up….

…or over ice garnished with berries & lemongrass. Very nice.

As it is Father’s Day I am going to tell this little story that has to do with my Dad.

I come from a family of bootleggers on my Father’s side of the family.  I suppose it is okay to say this out loud after all these years. One of my many not so child appropriate memories is of going to visit some elderly Great Aunts & Uncles up in the country near Dover. I have no recollection of any of the Aunts, nor their cakes & pies or other homemade goodies made for our visit. Nor do I have any recollection of the Uncles themselves, just of going to see their “still” deep in the woods somewhere close to their houses. That I recollect like a film strip. It was a hot day, close & sticky, a day of  mystery & deep greens. I watched quietly as Daddy & the Great Uncles studied the moonshine still and its’ output with reverence. There was a bit of tasting, but not for me. I liked the way the still looked, very purposefully random with copper tubing and large metal drums with pipes & drains, a gizmo to fascinate a curious child.On the way home I was cautioned to never mention to anyone about the still. I didn’t until today.

It must be in my blood as I so enjoy making batches of limoncello, vanilla extract, special cocktails in batches for dinner parties, turning fruit into liquers…this is what led me to remember going to see the still when I was a child. Just let me make this clear, in case anyone from the ATF is reading, I do not have  a still at my house, but that does not stop me from my work. I use large mason jars, high proof vodka, sugar & fruit. This is how I made this beautiful batch of “Blood Orangecello”.

It takes a few weeks or months to complete a batch, but there is little work involved, just a lot of waiting. The wait is worth it every time.  I start in deep Winter when citrus is abundant & cheap and by late Spring, early Summer my batch is ready to decant. Every now and then you need to swish it around in the jar and maybe take just a little taste to see how it coming along.

Here is what you will need:

6-8 ripe Blood Oranges

2 cups raw sugar

1 liter 100 proof vodka

Here is how you do it:

1. Wash & dry oranges. Carefully peel each orange taking care to not to remove any pith as you work.

2. Cut peeled oranges in half & juice each one.

3. In a large stockpot make a simple syrup using the 2 cups sugar & 1 cup water.Bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar is melted. Remove from heat.

4. Add the blood orange juice & the peels to the stockpot and stir to combine.

5. Pour the liter of vodka into the pot and stir to mix.

6. Ladle mixture with blood orange peels into a large glass mason jar. Cover with a tight -fitting lid. Place jar in a cool, dark place such as a closet floor for 6 weeks to 3 months.  Every now and then swish the mixture around in the jar……and wait. (The first 6 steps were done in March.)

March, April, May….June…..

Time to decant. A couple of years ago I purchased an inexpensive bottle capper from All Seasons Garden Shop (they also sell everything to make beer and wine at home) on 8th Avenue South here in Nashville. I also get my little bottles by the case from them.

7. First remove the peels from the jar & toss out, then strain the blood orangecello through a fine sieve to remove most of the debris in the mixture. You will notice the liqueur has turned a deep, deep red color. That is fine & beautiful.

8.Carefully decant into clean bottles & cap (or you can use corks if you do not have a capper). That is all there is to it.

Blood Orangecello is delicious icy cold. I keep a few bottles in the freezer always ready to serve straight up, or over ice topped with fizzy water as well as drizzled over homemade vanilla ice cream or pound cake.

I am sure the Great Uncles and my Dad would look on this as child’s play. They would no doubt be right.