Grating the outer peel of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits releases highly concentrated flavors that reside in the oils of the fruit’s skin. A little zest goes a long way towards punching up salads, stews, grilled meat, and beverages. The zest can also provide a beautiful garnish to any drink or dish. This Real Simple video shows how to zest like a pro.
Wash fruit in soap and water
Wash and dry your citrus fruits thoroughly to remove the wax coating. If you plan on using the juice and zest in a recipe, you will want to zest first. Zesting little lemon wedges is no fun!
Choose the right grater
A Microplane is an ideal tool, because its fine holes zest only the peel, not the bitter white membrane beneath. If you don’t have a Microplane, the fine side of a box grater or a vegetable peeler are good alternatives.
Glide the fruit across the plane
Hold the handle of the Microplane or box grater in one hand and hold the fruit in the other. Glide the fruit down the grater from top to bottom, pressing hard enough that you take off the outermost layer of skin. Repeat, rotating the fruit in your hand as you go so that you only grate each section of peel once.
Grate lemon from end to end
Glide the blade of a vegetable peeler over the fruit with enough pressure to remove long strips of the outermost layer of colorful skin, avoiding the bitter white pith.
Tip: Strips of zest can be cut into thinner pieces or finely diced with a small knife.