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How to Zest a Lemon Using a Tool That You Have

How to zest a lemon is something that all of us home cooks must learn. If you are working on a recipe that calls for lemon, adding lemon zest can really make the recipe pop.

Yes, you can make lemon zest even if you don’t have a Microplane or a zester. I don’t have one and I zest lemons on the regular. I should get a Microplane but honestly, I just haven’t gotten around to it.

With that said, this article will cover how to zest a lemon with a grater. 

A note: It is much easier to zest a firm lemon. The softer the lemon, the more challenging it is to zest.

How to zest a lemon

Wash and dry your lemon. Hold a lemon in your dominant hand and a grater in your non-dominant hand. Rub the lemon along the smallest set of holes on your grater.

Rotate the lemon as the white pith appears. You only want to zest where there is still yellow.

How to zest a lemon with a knife

If you don’t have a zester or a grater, you can zest a lemon using just a knife. 

  1. Carefully slice the zest off of the lemon in strips using a paring knife.
  2. Rotate the lemon until all of the yellow zest has been removed.
  3. If any white pith is left on the inside of the zest, carefully cut it off.
  4. Using your knife, cut the strips of zest into fine julienned pieces.

After you are done zesting your lemon, go ahead and juice it.

That juice is wonderful added to a tall glass of fizzy water. We are addicted to our Soda Stream and add lemon to the water daily.

Can I substitute lemon juice for lemon zest?

You can substitute lemon juice for lemon zest but it isn’t recommended.

If you have no other options substitute at a 2 to 1 ratio. For one teaspoon of lemon zest substitute two teaspoons of lemon juice.

What is lemon zest?

Lemon zest is the outside rind of a lemon.

When a recipe references lemon zest they are generally referencing small slices or grated strands of the yellow lemon rind. This zest provides a strong lemon flavor and aroma to food.

Lemon zest substitute?

Lime zest is the best substitute for lemon zest.

You can also substitute orange zest for lemon zest. If you need lemon zest but find yourself with no lemons, other citrus fruit zest can be substituted.

Can you freeze lemon zest?

Yes, you can freeze lemon zest. It will last 3-4 months in the freezer.

Each time that you use a lemon go ahead and take a moment to zest it. You can put that lemon zest in a baggie and stick it in the freezer.

How much zest can you get from one lemon?

You can generally get about 1 tablespoon of zest from a medium-size lemon.

As a note, a lemon generally produces about 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now that you know how to zest a lemon, go forth and create some tasty food.

Lemon zest can be used to spice up all types of dishes. I love to put it on top of a simple side salad, just to add a bit of zing.

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