Zesty Meals: A Complete Guide On Zesting

Zesty Meals: A Complete Guide On Zesting

Zest is a food ingredient that's created by cutting or scraping the outer layers of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, oranges, and citron. And just like its traditional zest definition, eating the zest of the fruit will give users "great energy and enthusiasm."

Its main purpose is to add flavor "Zest" to foods. Zest isn't the same thing as the rind, or the inner peel of the lemon. It's the colorful outer layer of the peel. The reason why people desire the zest is because it contains strong oils which create a pleasant and strong flavor.

The white part that’s under the peel is the pith. People tend to remove the pith because it has a bitter flavor and doesn’t have the citrus taste when eaten.

A high angle close up shot of a chef zesting a lemon with a microplane grater.

Also, zest can be added to cakes, cookies, and a multitude of other recipes. Unlike orange juice or lemon juice, it doesn't ruin the chemistry of the recipe (either by adding more liquid or more acidity). Becuase of this, you can add a teaspoon of orange zest or lemon zest to almost any recipe in order to improve the quality of your recipe.

What Tools Can You Use For Zesting?

For zesting, you can use the following tools: paring knives, peelers, and zesters. Each of them accomplishes the same task, but we recommend that you use a zester if you want the best results. Read this section to see how each of them work!


You might already have this appliance in your kitchen already. The grater has holes that are raised by cutting edges which helps cut the food into pieces. While graters are primarily used to grate cheese, it can also be used for lime zesting as well.

For those on a small budget, a grater is a great option. They are inexpensive (usually they cost about $10 or lower) and will help you grate your food quickly. All you have to do is place your desired citrus against the grater and watch it remove the zest within seconds.


A zester helps you create fine strips of peel from oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Kitchen zesters are about is about 4 inches long, with a handle that has a curved end. The top of the zester is perforated with holes that have sharp rims on it.

To operate the Zester, use moderate force and place it across the peel. The rims help cut the zest into ribbons, one made through each hole. Use them if you want a straightforward operation to remove the zest from your fruit!


Third, you could use a peeler to help scrape the zest off your fruit. Peelers are known for their slotted metal blade which helps remove the outer skin of certain vegetables like carrots and potatoes, and fruits like pears, apples, lemons, etc.

Using a peeler is simple. Rub the razor section against the fruit to start peeling it off. Once you find the zest, remove the peeler and use it for your next recipe!

How To Zest Citrus Fruits The Right Way

Washing The Fruit

First, you need to wash the fruit to remove any outside chemicals or germs placed on it. Run cold water through the fruit and then wash it off with a clean paper towel or cloth.

Washing lemons in a bowl of water.

One light rinse will remove the waxy residue located on the exterior of the fruit. Also, you can give the fruit a quick soak in a shallow bowl of water.


  • It’s important that you completely wash your fruit you plan on zesting. This is because the outside part of the food will actually be apart of your food.
  • Remove any labels or stickers, so they don't become apart of the zest.
  • Organic fruits have higher quality, but they need to be rinsed to ensure that they are still clean.

Dry The Fruit

After washing the fruit, remove the extra water and pat it dry with a towel. Make sure that your fruit is completely dry - you'll hold the fruit by hand, and your hand might slip off if the peel is fully wet.


  • Use a microfiber towel to remove the excess water from the fruit quickly.

Select The Right Tool For Zesting

Peelers, pairing knives, and graters will perform the same basic function. However, one might create a zest that's better suited for your culinary needs than the other tools. Slicing citrus fruits with your hand will leave you with an irregularly shaped peel but you'll have more control over the depth of your cut.

Use a microplane grater to create a shredded jest that can be blended into deserts, sauces, and other recipes. If you use a peeler, your fruits will have a uniform thickness and shape.


  • When using a paring knife or a peeler, you'll have to restart and chop the fruit's peel into an appropriate size.
  • Any knife with a sharp, short blade can be used if you don’t have access to a zesting tool on hand.

Step By Step Guide

  • Grab the fruit in one hand. To prevent zest from flying everywhere, it's better that you start from the bottom of the fruit.
  • Start dragging the zester along the exterior of the citrus. To achieve the best results, place the fruit away from you place the zester towards you. When being placed through the zester's tiny holes, the peel turns them into thin ribbons. These ribbons can be used for making desserts or used on the rim of a cocktail.
  • Turn the fruit frequently. After a few strokes, turn the citrus around and renew your grip. Continue doing this process until you’ve obtained the desired amount of zest or until you completed the peel.


Now that you know how to zest a lemon, its time for you to start implementing these techniques into your recipes. Doing so allows you to enhance the flavor of your meals and improve your overall health. Thus, keep zesting so you can get the most mileage of your food.

Zesting a lemon.

Do you have any additional questions about zesting?

Let us know in the comment section!

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