Cooking With Fresh Ingredients: Lemon Zest

As you begin to experiment with recipes, you may find yourself tracking down more unusual ingredients. One of these that is often encountered while baking is lemon zest. Commonly called for in recipes that contain blueberries, lemon zest gives baked goods a fresh hint of citrus that gives just enough lemony flavor to hint at summer without overwhelming the other ingredients. If you’re feeling ambitious and decide that you’d like to make your own fresh zest, you may have a few questions.

What is lemon zest?
When you first come across a recipe calling for lemon zest, you may find yourself wondering exactly what it is. Zest is actually made from the yellow part of the lemon peel. The rind is filled with natural oils that gives the fruit its citrus scent. It’s in such high concentration that just a little zest is enough to impart that flavor and scent into other foods.

How do I zest a lemon?
Now that you know what lemon zest is, extracting it from the fruit is actually quite simple. Using a paring knife, vegetable peeler or a utensil called a zester, carefully peel off the colored portion of the rind. You want as little of the white pith as possible – ideally none – because it can be quite bitter. You can either leave the peel in strips or mince it with your paring knife, depending on what your recipe calls for.

Recipes will also often call for grated zest. This is really easy to make because you can use the same hand-held grater that you use for any of your other vegetables. Remember to pay close attention in order to ensure that you are only grating the colored part of the rind and that you are leaving the pith behind.

If you like this post, please be sure to check out the following!

Lemon Granita Recipe
Brown Butter Cookies With Lemon Glaze
Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade Recipe


One Comment

  1. can the zest be frozen… i do freeze lemon slices.. they get soft but if the lemon zest does it could be just frozen flat then broken off in small pieces for the flavor… right or not..??