Lemon Zest; What is It and How Do I Use It?
One of the easiest ways to infuse citrus notes or flavors into your dishes is to add lemon zest. This ingredient can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. If you’re unsure about what exactly ‘zest’ is, don’t worry! Many people aren’t aware that this part of a fruit can be used in cooking.
Basically, Zest is the outermost rind of citrus fruits -- not including the bitter pith or fleshy white part. Lemon zest, along with lime and orange zest, is an ingredient that can be used in recipes ranging from baked goods to savory dishes. Lemon Zest is valued for the strong, citrus flavor that it imparts to many recipes because of an abundance of aromatic oils found in the rind. One medium-sized lemon would yield approximately one tablespoon of lemon zest.
Parts of the Lemon Peel
The zest - The zest is the outermost part or the colored part of the rind. It is shiny, brightly colored, and textured.
The pith - This is the inner part of the peel, which is fibrous and bitter. You definitely don’t want any part of this going into your dishes.
How do I Zest a Lemon?
First and foremost, wash the fruit first! This is to make sure that no bacteria or pesticides get into your food. Before zesting the lemons, scrub the fruit with a sponge and warm, soapy water. Rinse well and dry with a paper towel.
When in the process of zesting or removing the zest, make sure to take off only the thin outer layer of the peel, leaving the pith on the fruit. The white part will give an undesirable, bitter flavor to your dish.
How do I Store Lemon Zest?
If you’ve zested too much and want to store the excess, you can simply place the lemon zest in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer until it’s ready to be used. Once ready, let it defrost for a few seconds on your kitchen counter before adding it to your dish. Another thing that you should do is to tightly wrap zested lemons that you won’t be using until later. Without its skin, a lemon will dry out very quickly.
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