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How to Zest a Lemon ~ 4 Easy & Foolproof method

How to Zest a Lemon: The zest is the flavorful outer layer of the skin of citrus fruit that is most fragrant. It just takes a sharp knife, zesting tool, or pairing knife and a little bit of patience.

Lemon Zest

Lemon zest is the peel or outer layer of the lemon. It’s so aromatic that it can completely steal the show from the tartness of lemon juice.

Lemon peel is packed with pungent flavor and aroma because it has a high concentration of natural oils. If you regularly make lemon-flavored recipes, you will notice that some recipes also call for lemon zest in addition to lemon juice because the zest has the strongest lemon flavor.

It is used to make cakes, pasta, cookies, muffins, salads, lemon bars, drinks, etc. If you want a lemon-infused taste in your recipes, you can’t look past this wonder.

Zesting

The process of removing the thin layer of lemon to get zest is called “Zesting.” This process is not limited to lemons alone; you can also zest other citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, and lime.

There is a kitchen tool called zester specifically designed to zest citrus. A zester differs from a regular kitchen knife, vegetable peeler, or grater. Zesters are designed with thin blades to remove zest without damaging the pith.

Safety

The common question people ask is whether it is safe to eat lemon zest. Of course, it is safe. The nutritional value of a tablespoon of lemon zest is more concentrated than you think. A tablespoon (6 grams) has about 9% vitamin C of the daily value requirement. It also has high fiber, minerals, and vitamin D-limonene. In addition, it is a powerful source of antioxidants that boost the immune system, and it has low saturated fat and low sodium.

The pith

Wondering what a pith is? Lemon has two skin layers – the zest and the pith. I don’t want you to confuse zest with the whole skin. The zest is that bright yellow shiny layer that is the first thing you see on the lemon.

On the other hand, the pith is the white membrane you see immediately after peeling the zest. The pith is a fibrous layer that covers the fruit directly. It’s quite bitter, so you don’t want that.

How to zest a lemon with a microplane

Dry vs fresh lemon zest

Although dried lemon peels come handier in the kitchen, especially when you don’t have the time to go shopping for fresh lemons. However, the flavor is not as intense because some of it’s oils would have been given away during the drying process. This makes the punch of fresh zest in your recipe much more amazing. Most recipes call for a small quantity of lemon zest so you can zest on the spot at home. If you use too much, it can overpower other flavors in your recipe.

How to zest a lemon

Step 1: Wash the fresh lemon and pat dry with a paper towel

Step 2: Hold the lemon and zester over a bowl or cutting board.

Step 3: Drag the yellow rind of the lemon across the blades lightly in short, even strokes.

Step 4: Rotate the fruit constantly in all directions using a light touch.

Tips

  • Choose a brightly colored lemon. Ensure that it is plump, juicy, and spotless. A healthy lemon has no spots or discoloration.
  • Be careful not to zest the pith because it is bitter, except it becomes flavorful through candying.
  • The zester is sharp, be careful with your fingers as you zest.
Lemon Zest

FAQs

How much zest will a lemon produce?

Size matters! A medium-sized lemon will likely produce a tablespoon of shredded zest. A tablespoon of lemon zest is like 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. This confirms to you that lemon zest carries more lemon flavor.

Tools needed

There are a couple of ways to remove lemon zest:

  • Zesting tool: The Microplane is my favorite way to zest citrus – all you have to do is to run the lemon skin over the surface of the Microplane. A Microplane does a remarkable job! There is also another type of lemon Zester, which is a small tool with a blade on one end that can be used to scrape off thin strips of citrus peel. Either of these two tools will do a perfect job removing your peel.
  • Paring knife: An easy way to zest a lemon without a zester. Use a paring knife to slice off the white part of the peel. Try avoiding the pith while using a pairing knife.
  • Vegetable peeler: Vegetable peelers are small handheld devices with a metal blade that is used for peeling vegetables, such as potatoes or cucumbers. The metal blade of the tool is quite sharp and can also be used for closely cutting off thin shavings from fruits.

Substitute

Even though lemon zest is the most potent ingredient to give you that tangy feel in your recipe, I can’t deny that there are some close substitutes like lemon extract, lemon juice, lime juice, or lime zest.

However, these substitutes depend on what the recipe calls for. Therefore, the way you substitute it varies. For instance, if the recipe calls for a large amount of lemon zest, using a substitute may not have the same effect because the flavor intensity is different.

What can I use Lemon Zest For?

Here are some ways to enjoy this zesty flavor:

  • Add the zest to your juice, hot tea, beverages, yogurt, oatmeal, and more.
  • Add to cakes, muffins, and bread for extra lemon flavor.
  • Infuse some into your salad dressing or marinades.
  • Add to your seafood.
  • Add to pasta sauce and stews for a tangy flavor.

Some zesty recipes:

Storage

Freeze: Freezing is the most effective storage method for lemon zest to retain taste and flavor for a long time. Use a freezer bag to freeze for months. Don’t forget to defrost it before you use it.

Refrigerate: You can also store it in the fridge for up to a week. Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. The downside of storing in the fridge is that it loses its flavor quickly compared to the frozen version. It should still be in reasonable condition if you plan to use it within two to three days.

Dry: You can also leave it to dry at room temperature, sun, or microwave. It’s okay for long-term storage, but the flavor loses potency, which isn’t appropriate for some recipes. Learn more on how to dry lemon zest correctly here.

When it comes to storage timeframe, you should dispose of the zest when it loses its taste or flavor. You are probably wondering what to do with your lemon after zesting it. You can wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. Because you have removed the zest that naturally protects it from drying out, you must wrap it well.

Lemon Zest

How to Zest a Lemon

Lemon zest is a flavoring ingredient that adds a burst of lemon flavor to recipes. Zesting a lemon can be tricky, but we will show you how to zest lemons correctly here.
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Ingredients

  • 1 Lemon

Instructions

To Zest with a pairing knife

  • Wash the fresh lemon and pat dry with a paper towel
  • Hold the lemon in one hand over a bowl or cutting board. Then peel off the outer yellow rind towards yourself with the pairing knife.
  • After that, finely julienne the peel with a Chef's knife. Make sure you keep your fingers safe.

To Zest with a Microplane:

  • Wash the fresh lemon and pat dry with a paper towel
  • Place the Microplane over a cutting board, wide plate, or bowl. Then run the lemon back and forth over the Microplane.
  • Rotate the fruit constantly in all directions using a light touch.
  • Make sure your fingers are correctly placed as you move it back and forth.
  • Keep zesting the lemon until the entire yellow part is removed.

To Zest with a Vegetable Peeler:

  • Wash the fresh lemon and pat dry with a paper towel
  • Place the lemon on the sharp edges of the vegetable peeler, and push slightly into the fruit.
  • Pull down gently to the other end
  • Repeat this process on each side until you zest the entire lemon.

Notes

  • Choose a brightly colored lemon. Ensure that it is plump, juicy, and spotless. A healthy lemon has no spots or discoloration.
  • Be careful not to zest the pith because it is bitter, except it becomes flavorful through candying.
  • You will know that the pith is being zested when you start seeing lemon juice dripping out.
  • The zester is sharp, be careful with your fingers as you zest.

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