I've used the smallest side of my box grater but find more of the zest clings to the grater than goes into the dish. I've also used a flat hand grater with a bit more success. Does anyone have a better way to zest a lemon?
My lemon-zesting life changed the day I got a microplane grater. I highly recommend it.
I second the motion. Microplane. I'm surprised it hasn't also become a verb.
A microplane is a great investment, but I also find myself reaching for my zester. It is a funny looking gadget with five little holes on the top, and when you pull it down the side of the lemon, long thin threads of zest come with it. Then you have to chop them to the size you want.
I'm with ChefJune when it comes to the traditional zester. I like the microplane, but there are some purposes for which you might want the tiny strands created by the old-fashioned hand zester. For example, if you want tiny but noticeable pieces of zest in whatever you're making, the hand zester is better. I own both, and use both. I like small pieces of zest, for example, in my St. Clements Orange and Lemon Cookies. The hand chopped zest is prettier than finely grated zest, and smells lovely on the top of a lightly iced cookie. Similarly, I like the small strands of zest in fresh chutneys, for the textural interest they provide. ;o)
I love to use my vegetable peeler to cut broad strips and thinly cut the large strips of zest into the size I want. The large strips are great for steeping into teas and sangrias, ole
I struggle with the hand zester and the microplane and don't use them. I always thought I was being a coward, but I am delighted to find Chef Michael also uses a peeler to cut strips and then cuts them into the size he wants!
TOTALLY depends on what you want the zest for. If you want the tiny, curly little strands, like as a garnish for a salad or a plate of pasta, then you want the zester with the little holes all in a row.
If you want a more assertive, more noticeable presence of the zest, then using the swivel veggie peeler to take off the colored layer, then mincing or juilienning by hand is the way to go. Or, if you want a "twist" for a delightful adult beverage (not that *I* indulge.....just sayin'.....;-)
For a background note, and zest that will "disappear" into the background and leave just the flavor, like in a dressing or a sauce, then the Microplane will give you mounds of fluffy, beautiful yumminess.
I have all 3, and use them all regularly.
@DrBabs @boulangerie I use "microplane" as a verb constantly - and i'm not the only one!
I got a cheap microplane, hated using it, and stuck it in the back of a drawer. Then I received a new microplane as a gift and realized what I'd been missing: a big and comfortable handle. Now, I love the microplane. I am still looking for a sharp zester with a comfortable, ergonomic handle...
Assuredly a microplane!