Cooking question. How to "zest" a lemon?

I’m trying to learn how to cook, and I came across a recipe that tells me to juice and “zest” a lemon. What does that mean?

Sorry if this question is stupid. Thanks in advance!

Grate off some of the peel with a grater. Or use a zester if you have one. Try not to get the pith (white stuff)

You are taking off the skin - the yellow part that has the essential oils in it - but make sure not to get the white pith - that part is bitter. You can use a grater, you can use a zester, or you can use a vegetable peeler.

It means take a grater with a very fine gratingness (tiny holes should be one of the choices on sides of a standing grater), or a lemon zester (specialized grater for lemons, cinnamon, etc.) and grate the skin of a clean lemon. Just grate enough to remove the bright yellow color, no deeper. It should call for a measure of zest (one teaspoon, say), so lightly fill the spoon with the gratings that come off.

It gives a nice strong lemon flavor.

Thanks guys. Sounds easy!

Wish me luck on my lemon pepper chicken skewers. It seems too easy to screw up, though.

I just wanted to chime in and say that in my experience the best tool for zesting is a microplane. :>

lemon zester Not a “unitasker”; also good for shaving chocolate, grating cinnamon, ginger, and other whole spices as mentioned.

Or use the right-hand side as shown in this

Another hint is wash the lemon in hot water before peeling it. Many fruits have a wax coating that you don’t want in your zest.

While graters can be used to provide zest, an actual zester looks like this (and can be found from vendors a bit cheaper than Williams-Sonoma if you’re only going to use it a couple times a year).

I have made lemon ice with and without zest. It is 10 times better with the zest added.


Please be so kind as to post the recipe. :slight_smile:

I found it here on the food network website.

I have to learn easy, fast stuff to make if I want to eat at home with my family anymore. Our work schdules are opposite now, so we have enough time to eat and pass the baby off when she gets home before I have to go and do the evening shift. So, if anyone knows another good resource for fast, easy, cheap recipes let me know!

That one sucks. You only get a little zest at a time, and it’s not very ergonomic. The previously-linked microplanes will do the job in a jiffy without pissing you off.

Like most kitchen utensils, everyone’s opinions vary, though, so take what I say with a grain of salt (kosher, of course).

Epicurious is a great recipe site, though not all its recipes are fast, easy, and/or cheap. You can use the Advanced Search to find what you’re looking for, though. It’s my favorite because I can plug in whatever ingredients I happen to have and it will find me recipes that work. The recipes are peer-reviewed as well, so you can get an idea of the difficulty.

And lemon zest is divine in salad dressing. And cookies. And just about anything else. :slight_smile:

Where possible, do your zesting over the dish or cocktail. The rind releases a mist of essential oils when you zest, and it’s a shame to waste it.

I don’t exactly understand why questions like this are posed to the forum, nor do I understand why people bother to answer them. The answer to this question is available by looking at a dictionary, or failing that, a google search. Type ‘lemon zest’ into google and the first result gives a good description of what lemon zest is. There also exists a wikipedia page on the subject - it’s the first page that comes up when you google ‘zest’.

Because people enjoy answering these questions.

Because some people might never even have heard of the term “zest” and now their lives are richer for having read the answers.

Because if the question hadn’t been asked there wouldn’t have been the ensuing discussion about the best zesting implements.

Because if people didn’t ask and answer the sorts of questions that can be answered by a web search, the forum would be pretty much empty.

Anyway, that’s just the way I feel about it.

There’s also the Cook’s Illustrated folks. Not all of their recipies are the “fast, easy, cheap” kind, but they’re really well-tested recipies – I’ve never had one go bad on me.

Their magazine is pretty good, too, but it’s sister mag (“Cook’s Country”) seems better for quick recipies – there’s usually a dozen or so quick meal recipie cards in every issue.

Wikipedia and Straight Dope GQ boards seem about equal to me. Why is one more valuable than the other? Do you think that these boards should be the LAST resource someone goes to?


Let’s see if we can find some more zest over in Cafe Society.