Don’t you think you need a little zest in your life? Zest, or the scrapings of fruit skin, is actually an incredibly flavorful ingredient to add to a multitude of dishes. Whether it’s lemon zest on top of some poppy seed muffins or orange zest to give your cashew chicken a tang, this is one amazing ingredient that should not be overlooked.
Unfortunately, zest is overlooked sometimes simply because people aren’t sure what it is, how to use it, or how to “harvest” it. Luckily, this guide will clear up all those questions so that you can start adding a little zest to your cooking.
What is zest used for?
Zest is best used either as a mixture, or as a light “top-off” to add some extra flavor. As mentioned before, “zest” is simply a name for small shavings of fruit skin. Some people may raise their eyebrows when they hear that this ingredient is the intentional use of parts of a food that are often thrown away, but I would entreat you not to judge too quickly. After all, in many fruits it’s the skin that holds the most nutrients and saturation of flavor.
Where does zest come from?
The most common fruits to zest are those with thick colorful skins, especially oranges, lemons, and limes.
What kinds of dishes can I use zest in?
You can add zest to a multitude of dishes, including but not limited to fajitas, sauces, salsas, and glazes. Basically it can be used the same as an herb or spice to bring some citrus flavor into a dish.
How do I get the zest off the fruit?
The best way to zest fruit is by using a special tool known as a zester. Zesters consist of a handle topped off with a metal attachment that looks similar to an animal pawprint. There are several small circles at the tip of the metal, and some have a larger “claw” in the middle of the metal to make thicker slivers of zest.
Where can I find one?
Larger grocery stores will often have zesters along with their basic supply of cookware. If you can not find one there, check local department stores, or, if all else fails, a cooking specialty store.
How do I use a zester?
It is very easy to use a zester. All you need to do is hold the fruit in one hand over a bowl and scrape the zester across the fruit’s skin with your other hand. The zester will scrape the top layer of skin off of the fruit and into the bowl, much like grating cheese. Remember as you zest that the most flavorful parts of the fruit are the colorful skin; the rind is actually bitter. You don’t want to scrape too hard because you don’t want to get the rind into whatever you are trying to flavor.