Kitchen Confidence

A Trick for Zesting Citrus

By • April 10, 2014 • 11 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: A Food52 heirloom trick, for you and yours, to make all your citrus recipes better.

A Trick for Zesting Citrus

We learn our best tips from those we cook with. And such is the case with this citrus zesting trick -- the one that will make your pies zippier, your salad dressings brighter, your kitchen cleaner. And the one that will give you something to show off at dinner parties. (What, you don’t do that?) 

I learned this from Kristen, who learned it from Merrill. It’s an heirloom trick, in that way, passed down and kept in the Food52 test kitchen.

A Trick for Zesting Citrus from Food52

But no more. Now it's yours to share: The next time you zest any kind of citrus, zest upwards, with the underside of the microplane or grater facing you. Why is this better than what you’re doing now? Because instead of a flailing rainstorm of zest on your counter, you’re collecting and confining the zest. And more importantly, you’re not losing its precious, citrusy oils to a cutting board, or your hands, or whatever surface you’d otherwise zest onto. Instead, they’re in that pie, or that dressing. They’re where they should be. 

If your recipe doesn’t call for a specific measurement, you’d do well to zest directly into your mixing bowl. If it does, carefully slide the zest off of your grater, directly into your measuring vessel. 

A Trick for Zesting Citrus from Food52

Now pay it forward, and hand this trick on. 

Have any citrus widsom to share? Tell us in the comments! 

Photos by James Ransom 

Jump to Comments (11)

Tags: kitchen confidence, citrus, zest, hack, trick

Comments (11)

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6 months ago Mary

I zest dozens of lemons at a time. I place the zest in ice cube trays and fill with water. To thaw, I just toss the needed amount of cubes in a sieve and in a flash, I have fresh zest!

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I was sort of curious about this, so I did some quick research. The method described here is how the company that produces the Microplane (tm) zester instructs how it is to be used. http://us.microplane.com... Click on the FAQ. ;o)

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6 months ago placidplaid

Big duh.

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6 months ago cucina di mammina

I do this too! I was gifted with zest dr years ago and I immediately turned it upside down not knowing anything different :) it works great for me every time, thanks for the great article!

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7 months ago Sunnycovechef

I have always done it this way

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7 months ago Jackie Phetteplace

While I appreciate the tip; I don't like doing it that way. It seems much less....graceful...in my hands to do it that way. I just slap that puppy over the bowl and grate away - all oils and zest are going into the bowl regardless. Plus, I never measures my zest anyway.

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7 months ago whiskito

Have you tried switching hands as well? I am 95% sure that when I want to grate willy-nilly (eg dusting pasta with cheese at the table), I hold the grater stationary with my left hand and move the cheese over it with my right (I am a rightie). On the other hand (pun intended), to collect the gratings (as with zest), I hold the lemon stationary in the palm of my left hand while moving the grater with my (more dexterous) right hand. But to each their own!

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7 months ago phyllis

I had the same experience as AntoniaJames. Now that I know it's a 'trick', I'll pass it on. Thank you.

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7 months ago Sue Burns

I just shared this great tip on my blog last week! Love it~

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7 months ago Sara Manju Hallisey

Me too! You can see how much of the fruit you've zested by simply flipping the microplane! :)

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7 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This is so funny, because I didn't realize there was any other way to do it. I bought my first Microplane (tm) zester before I'd ever seen anyone else use one. The engineer in me figured out immediately that the method you describe is best for another reason: you have so much more control over the angle and sweep of the tool when you use it in your dominant hand, almost like a paintbrush, with a gentle pulling motion. You can get so much more zest off, and more evenly (which is important for citrus, as you don't want the bitter pith), when you do it this way. I actually thought to myself, when I first started using the tool, how clever the manufacturer was to design it in such a way that the zest was all so neatly contained, making it easy to scrape off. At moments like these, I feel like I'm in the wrong business . . . . ;o)