What is Orange Zest?

Orange Zest; What is It and How Do I Use It?


One way to add fragrance and flavor to your dishes is to use Orange 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 colored outer peel of a citrus fruit -- not including the pith or fleshy white part. Orange zest, along with lime and lemon zest, is an ingredient that can be used in recipes ranging from cookies to stews. It gives a vibrant flavor to your dishes and adds a much-needed zing or fragrance to bland-tasting foods. A little amount can go a long way! Just take note that the zest gives an entirely different flavor from the juice or flesh of a citrus fruit.


How To Zest an Orange


Now that you know what Orange zest is, you can go ahead and start ‘zesting’! -- “Zesting’ is the process of extracting or removing the zest from the citrus fruit. This can be done by using a zesting tool, a Microplane, a paring knife, or even your regular old grater. Just be careful not to include the bitter and undesirable pith.


  • Microplane
  • A Microplane is a special tool that many chefs use to zest an orange. This is used exactly like a grater, but the difference is that the strips are longer and prettier if using orange zest as a garnish. This takes a bit longer and might be trickier to use.


  • Paring Knife
  • If you’re comfortable with using knives, you can zest any citrus fruit using this method. Carefully cut off very thin slices of the peel and then just julienne these pieces. This method is great when using peel as a garnish for a cocktail.


  • Grater
  • If your recipe calls for a lot of peel, this would be the easiest and fastest method. Just grate the orange like how you would with cheese. Be careful as you might get a lot of the pith!


    Best Uses for Orange Zest


    Orange zest can be used in different ways. Grate a little on top of ice cream or yogurt, or use it in sauces, baked goods, and sweets. A little orange zest in savory recipes or even in salads can give it a little more oomph. My favorite would be adding a little zest in cocktails or dark chocolate!


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