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Four Reasons to Love the Awesome Power of Lemon Zest

Looking to heighten the flavor of a recipe? If so, lemon zest may be the flavor fix you're looking for. A secret weapon in the arsenal of many professional chefs, lemon zest is one of the simplest and most...

Looking to heighten the flavor of a recipe? If so, lemon zest may be the flavor fix you're looking for. A secret weapon in the arsenal of many professional chefs, lemon zest is one of the simplest and most effective ways to infuse your culinary creations with another dimension of flavor. Let's take a closer look at this tried and true kitchen staple, along with four of the reasons why we love it.

What is Lemon Zest?

While lemon zest may sound fancy, it's actually a simple concept. The term simply refers to the topmost, outer layer of the lemon. While the entire lemon is edible, only the colorful part -- which contains the fruit's intense essential oils -- is its zest. (The inner layer of spongy white pith can also be eaten, but has a bitter, sour, unpleasant flavor.)

When working with flavor-packed lemon zest, seek out organic whenever you can. Why? Because pesticides typically settle in the skin. Buying organic ensures access to all of the tasty benefits with none of the harmful chemicals. If you don't have access to organic citrus, be sure to wash fruit skin very well to ensure removal of all pesticides and other unwanted elements.

Lemon zest
Lemon zest: the chef's secret weapon to bright, clean flavor.

 

Wondering how to zest a lemon? It's surprisingly simple, as long as you have the right tool. While a trained chef may successfully work with a knife, tools like zesters and microplanes offer a smart, simple solution for home chefs.

Lemon Zest Love: Four Reasons

1. It's Incredibly Versatile

While baked goods may come to mind when you think of lemon zest, this zingy spice has a myriad of other flavor-enhancing uses -- both sweet and savory alike. Sure, lemon zest adds a luscious layer to cakes and cookies, but it also adds bright flavor to everything from vegetables to breakfast oatmeal, as well as Mediterranean-inspired recipes like pasta, risotto and pizza sauce.

2. It's an Easy Infusion of Flavor

A recipe which calls for lemon zest will have bright, fresh taste, which is why this spice is so popular in everything from salad dressing to baked goods. Not sure whether lemon zest is right for a recipe? Don't be afraid to experiment. A generous pinch can enhance the taste of many different types of food. If your recipe already has citrus juice, meanwhile, adding a pinch of lemon zest can further heighten the flavor.

3. It Won't Alter the Chemistry of Your Recipe

While lemon juice can change both the volume and acidity levels, a teaspoon or tablespoon of lemon zest won't throw off your recipe. Other fruits, including limes, grapefruits, and oranges can also be zested and added to a recipe without altering it, although they have their own unique flavors.

Lemon zest
Are you ready to start zesting?

 

4. It Can Be Used Fresh or Air Dried

While many recipes call for fresh lemon zest, it can also be used dried. If you have leftover, let it air-dry overnight. When the moisture has evaporated, contain your dried lemon zest in a glass jar and store in a cool, dry place with your other spices. The juicy, tart lemon fleshy need not go to waste, either; it will keep for several days wrapped in plastic at room temperature.

If you've never worked with lemon zest before, what are you waiting for? Cilantro The Cooks Shops offers an assortment of zesting tools and devices, along with a comprehensive inventory of kitchen gadgets specifically designed for the haute home chef.