Zesting is the action of removing the outermost skin of citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes. There are natural oils in the colored part of the skin that contains flavor and aroma. Shavings of this skin are added to a wide variety of dishes to provide intense citrus flavors. Be sure to stop zesting at the colored layer of the fruit's rind because the white second layer is unpleasantly bitter. This citrus skin can be used dried, fresh, candied, or pickled with salt.

Zest significantly contributes to dishes like sweets, pastries, cakes, biscuits, puddings, confectionery, chocolate, and pies. Zest can also be added to sweet and sour condiments, like lime chutney, lemon pickle, marmalade, liquors, and lemon liqueurs.

How to Zest

The act of zesting may be performed with a Microplane grater. By sliding the lemon along the steel shaft, you can collect the tiny bits of zest on the Microplane and measure them for recipes.

You can use a small, regular grater or a knife if you don't have a Microplane grater. Zesting with a knife will give you the strongest and most even citrus flavoring. This is because the Microplane causes some of the oils to be released into the air while you're zesting. But when you cut the rind with a knife. 

To use a paring knife:

  1. Slice off either end of the citrus fruit.
  2. Carefully slice the colored part of the fruit rind.
  3. Use a Chef's knife to Julienne the skin, then dice the slices.

Zesting one lemon should produce about one tablespoon of zest.