Zesting Lemons Without a Zester
What is Lemon Zest?
- Lemon zest is thin strips of the colored outside peel of a lemon. Some recipes call this grated lemon peel.
- Lemon Zester is a kitchen tool which takes off the lemon peel in thin strips when you pull it along to top of the lemon. A zester is sometimes called a microplaner.
- Lemon peel includes the white part of the rind. Lemon peel is used in some recipes but is more bitter, so if your recipe says lemon zest or grated lemon peel, try to use just the colored part.
3 Different Kinds of Lemon Zest
2 Ways without a Zester
Two easy ways to make lemon zest without a zester are:
Use a small grater. This is the fastest method and I use it all the time:
- Run the lemon lightly across the grater so that just the bright yellow part of the rind is grated.
- Keep on turning the lemon as you pull it across the grater.
- You should be able to get about 1 Tb. of grated lemon zest per lemon.
- Grated lemon peel is thinner, and works better than zested lemon peel in recipes like cakes and cookies because it blends better with other tastes.
Use a small sharp knife. This method takes a little longer but is closer to zested lemon.
- Carefully use the knife to peel off a section of the yellow rind which is about 1/2 inch wide.
- Then put that section on a cutting board and cut it into very thin strips.
- These strips will look very much like zested lemon, but they will be straight rather than curled.
- This sort of lemon peel is better for decorating baked goods like the top of puddings or lemon meringue pie.
Step by Step Photo InstructionsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Using a Zester
Although you can live without a zester, you might want to check your cheese grater. Many of them have a small section that is actually a zester (also called a microplane).
In truth, using a zester is mostly for show. A zester makes thin, curling zest which looks nice as a garnish. It is a pretty inexpensive kitchen tool. I bought mine at the grocery store and it can juice citrus too. You use a zester by:
- Holding the lemon in one hand and the zester in the other hand.
- Put the zester at a 45-degree angle to the lemon and pull down while pushing slightly.
- You should see curling zest come out the top of the zester.
- Rotate the lemon and continue pulling down until you've gotten as much zest as you need, or until you've finished getting the yellow rind off the lemon.
Tips for Using
Lots of baking and meat recipes ask for lemon zest because it adds a lot of flavor and a wonderful smell to many foods. Here are some important facts:
- White rind is bitter, so try to use just the colored part.
- Lemon rind has lemon oil in it, so it adds more flavor than the juice (although many recipes ask for both).
- Measure carefully because too much lemon zest may not taste good, start with 1 teaspoon or less.
- Lemon zest should usually be added last.
- Leftover lemon zest can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen for up to a month.
1/2 tea. lemon extract
2 TB lemon juice (may need to adjust other liquids in recipe.
1 TB vinegar or lime juice
1 TB (equals 3 tea. U.S. measurement or 4 tea. in Australia)
2 tea. lemon extract
4 TB lemon juice
2 TB vinegar or lime juice
1/2 tea. lemon extract or lemon zest
1 tea. lime juice
1/2 tea. vinegar or white wine
1 tea. lemon zest
1/2 tea. lemon extract
1 tea. lemon juice
1 tea. lemon juice
1 tea. vinegar
1 tea. white wine
Easy Lemon Bread
I love the taste of lemons and this lemon bread recipe has a deep lemon flavor. I always get asked the recipe when I bring it to share or give it as a gift. The lemon flavor is a nice change from banana bread or blueberry. You can add blueberries, nuts, coconut or mini chocolate chips.
- 1 package yellow cake mix, (can use sugar free Pillsbury)
- 1 package lemon jello, (regular or sugar free)
- 2/3 cup oil, (or applesauce)
- 2/3 cup hot water
- 4 eggs, (or one cup egg substitute)
- 1 TB lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a mixer. Beat for about 2 minutes until thick and well blended.
- Pour batter into 2 loaf pans, 24 cupcake holders or a bundt pan. Bake until light brown (about 20 minutes for cupcakes, 30 for loaf pans and 40 for bundt pan).
- Take out and while warm, you can add an optional glaze of 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 TB lemon juice and 1 tea. lemon zest. Or you can serve with butter and lemon sugar (see recipe below).
Make Lemon Sugar Gift
Lemon sugar makes a nice gift along with a loaf of home made bread, or a mug and tea.
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 TB lemon zest
Mix together and put in a covered container. Use as a topping for toast or to sweeten your tea.