How to zest a lemon without zester

3 Best Ways to Zest a Lemon (Or any other Citrus Skin) Without A Zester


Lemons are dynamic fruit and can be used in many ways while cooking. Most people are still unaware of the fact that the real flavor lies in the rind where the oil is stored. A small quantity of lemon zest is enough to make your dish stand out.

While zesters are readily available in the market but even if you don’t have one and planning to use Zest in your next recipe no need to panic over how to get zest from the lemon. I’m presenting here for your number of ways on how to zest a lemon without zester. At the end of the article, I’m also planning to include the way to get zest from lemon using a zester.

What’s Lemon Zest

The zest is the colorful yellow portion of the peel or rind. The white pith is bitter and unpleasant, while the zest has the bright flavor of the fruit with a citrusy aroma. When choosing a lemon for using it to zest try to find one with thick skin, this is because when you zest the lemon you want the upper yellow part of the rind and that’s exactly what makes a zest different from the peel. Peel is the entire skin which includes the white pith as well.

How to Zest a Lemon with a Peeler or A Knife

How to zest a lemon peeler


Another method is to use a vegetable peeler or a knife to remove the peel in long ribbons which can be used for rimming cocktail glasses. You can use a pairing knife but the one with serrated edges would be a better option and will make the job easier for you. Scratching is very important in the zesting process to release all the oil. Unless you’re skilled with the knife or peeler, this technique inevitably brings part of the bitter white pith with it. To do a perfect job, you should then lay the strips down on a cutting board and scrape the white part off with a paring knife, then slice or mince as you like.


How to zest a lemon with a knife

Did You Know?

1 Medium Size lemon = 2 to 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice = 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest Approx

How to Zest A Lemon With A Grater

The third method is to use a sharp micro grater which results in tiny flecks of zest that are nearly undetectable in dishes except for their flavor. When using a grater, do it slowly with light pressure as you do not want to grate the bitter white part. You will get an idea about when to stop when you see the zest coming out is becoming lighter in color and lemon becomes hard to grate.

When grating the zest of citrus fruit, grate the whole thing, even if you only need a small amount. You can store the extra grated zest in small airtight pouches made of plastic wrap, and keep them in the freezer for a month. They’re terrific to have on hand when you need to brighten a soup, sauce, or dressing.


Zest a lemon with a Grater

How to Zest a lemon with a zester

As I’ve already discussed the ways to zest a lemon or any other citrus fruit without a zester, the easiest by far is to invest some money in a micro zester, and trust me it’s gonna be worth it. A zester is a nifty tool with small sharp-edged holes that cut off long, thin strips of zest, which can then be minced; they are wonderful for garnishing when whole. A very handy tool to have in the kitchen not just for zesting but it can also be used to finely grate hard and medium cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan and chocolate for your garnishing, apart from that you can also use it to grate garlic and ginger with ease.

How to zest a lemon with a Zester

Pro Tip: You can refrigerate a zested lemon wrapped in plastic and use it later.

Lemon Zest Alternative

Some lemon zest alternatives can be

  • Lemon Extract (If the Original recipes call for One tsp of lemon zest, use half tsp of lemon extract)
  • Dried Lemon Peel (You can use the equal amount as the original recipe)
  • You can even use the zest of orange or other citrus fruit (The same amount)

Whether a recipe calls for grated lemon (or orange or lime) zest, peel, or rind, you want to use only the upper part of the skin which has all the fragrant oils, and not the unpleasant white pith. It’s the colorful zest that adds the bright acidic flavor of the fruit.
There are a few ways to zest citrus fruits; how you choose to do it should partly depend on how you’ll use it.

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