How to Zest Citrus

Zesting citrus is one of the fastest ways to add fresh pops of flavor to your recipes. And it’s easy too! Our video below shows you how to become a zesting pro in a snap. Step-by-step instructions, along with a quick primer on the difference between zest and rind, are below.

How to Zest Citrus

Pre-Step: Don’t forget to wash your citrus.

1. Hold a Microplane grater at an angle by the handle, with the opposite end on a flat surface.

2. Drag the fruit down the surface of the Microplane, pressing with enough pressure that the Microplane grates off only the outermost layer of the fruit.

3. Rotate the fruit, and repeat step 2. Zest as much of the fruit as your recipe calls for.

Kitchen Tip: If your recipe only calls for the zest, don’t toss out the fruit without juicing it first. You can freeze the juice in an ice cube tray and thaw cubes as you need them. Or mix the juice with iced tea for a perfectly refreshing summer drink.

What’s the Difference Between Zest and Rind?

Zest: Citrus zest is the colorful outer layer of the fruit—not the white part (called the pith, which is bitter and should be avoided). Zest is commonly made using a citrus zest grater (also called a citrus zester). We prefer to use a Microplane grater for our citrus, which won’t take off the pith with the zest. Any time a recipe calls for grated zest or grated rind, this is what it’s referencing.

Rind: The rind of a citrus fruit is the entire peel—white pith and all. Sometimes you’ll encounter a recipe that calls for rind strips, such as lemon rind strips for cocktails or to be simmered in a sauce and removed before serving. In those cases, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the fruit.

You will commonly see recipes from our Clean Eating, Paleo, Mediterranean and Simple Gourmet plans that will call for you to zest a lemon or lime.


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