How to Zest Citrus

Grating the outer peel of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits releases concentrated flavors that reside in the oils of the fruit’s skin. A little zest goes a long way toward punching up salads, stews, grilled meat, and cocktails. This video shows how to zest like a pro.

What You Need

  1. Check citrus fruit
  2. Check soap
  3. Check cutting board
  4. Check knife
  5. Check and any or all of the following zesting tools: Microplane grater
  6. Check box grater
  7. Check vegetable peeler

Follow These Steps

  1. Wash fruit in soap and water

    Wash your citrus fruits thoroughly to remove the wax coating.

  2. Choose the right grater

    A Microplane is an ideal tool, because its fine holes zest only the peel, not the bitter white membrane beneath. If you don’t have a Microplane, the fine side of a box grater is a good alternative. You can also use a vegetable peeler.

  3. Glide the fruit across the plane

    Hold the handle of the Microplane or box grater in one hand and hold the fruit in the other. Glide the fruit down the grater from top to bottom, pressing hard enough that you take off the outermost layer of skin. Repeat, rotating the fruit in your hand as you go so that you only grate each section of peel once.

  4. Grate lemon from end to end

    Glide the blade of a vegetable peeler over the fruit with enough pressure to remove long strips of the outermost layer of skin, avoiding the white pith.

    Tip: Strips of zest can be cut into thinner pieces or finely diced with a small knife.