How to Zest Citrus Without Leaving Flavor Behind

August 19, 2013

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Your lemony cakes and scones just got better. Alice shows how to leave none of the flavorful oils behind when we zest citrus.

Tips for Zesting Citrus on Food52

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Grating citrus zest on a cutting board or sheet of wax paper and then transferring it to the batter leaves a lot of flavor and aroma behind! To capture the all of the aromatics, grate zest (preferably with a Microplane) directly into the batter.

Of course this is easy to do when a recipe simply calls for the grated zest of a medium lemon or half of an orange for example. But what if the recipe calls for a specific measure, such as 1 tablespoon of zest? The best way to handle this is to grate zest into the empty mixing bowl until it measures 1 tablespoon, then add the other ingredients to the bowl. Or, grate 1 tablespoon of zest into separate bowl and stir in a wet ingredient that will be added to the batter at the same time as the zest. Either way, the good stuff ends up in the batter rather than being left on the table.

Naked citrus (lemons and oranges stripped of their zests) dry out quickly. Wrap them in plastic wrap for protection and refrigerate them. Plan to eat or use them as soon as possible.

More: Practice makes perfect -- work on your zesting technique with a 5-ingredient Galician Almond Cake.

Alice's most recent book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, doles out delicious dessert recipes that don't take hours of prep (a lot of them don't even require turning on the oven) -- everything from lattice-free linzer to one-bowl French chocolate torte.


Photo by James Ransom


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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

1 Comment

L K. January 1, 2015
Simple yet excellent suggestion!