I always thought that the best part of fruit was on the inside and that other than for marmalade the skin was just thrown away. So, whenever I saw a recipe that included “the zest of a lemon” I imagined that it was either for presentation or just lemon juice.
Recently a recipe that featured the “zest of a lemon” was recommended to me, so for the My Inherited Kitchen community I decided to see if I was right. As in so many of my preconceptions about cooking I was wrong. It made a big difference. Try it yourself with our Leek and Bacon Risotto recipe.
How do you zest a lemon?
The zest is the thin layer of yellow around a lemon. It is not the white bit underneath which tastes bitter. Therefore you have to find a way of just shaving off the bits that do taste good. You can either use a citrus zester or a microplane.
With both devices just rub them across the lemon and collect the slivers of lemon on a plate. Typically you will need about a teaspoonful in most recipes although they rarely state how much.
The most important thing to do before zesting a lemon is to make sure that it is throughly washed. You should also avoid buying lemons that are waxed to keep them looking good. Wax does not taste nice.