If you’re making a recipe and you need to add a little bit more punch to it, what do you reach for?
Chances are your first instinct will be lemon.
The answer is lemon zest.
This is the outermost layer of the lemon fruit’s skin.
It has a pungent citrus flavor that makes it an ideal addition to many dishes.
Lemon zest is also a great way to add freshness and brightness to your food without adding too much acidity by itself.
Here we’ll discuss what this delicious citrus flavor is all about.
We’ll look at how to get it, where it comes from, and how to incorporate it into your next dish.
What is lemon zest?
In culinary terms, lemon zest refers to the outermost layer of the fruit’s peel.
The word “zest” comes from the French word for “edge.”
As its name suggests, lemon zest is most often found on the edge of a piece of lemon rind.
You might see it in other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, orange, lime, and even tangerines.
When you cut a piece of citrus fruit open, you’ll find several layers.
The outermost one is the zest. It’s not edible, so don’t bother trying to eat it.
Instead, use it in cooking.
Lemon zest adds a nice twist to a variety of foods, including desserts, salads, sauces, soups, dressings, and drinks.
What does lemon zest taste like?
Most people think of lemons when they imagine the citrusy flavor of lemon zest.
But that’s just one of the flavors you’ll encounter with a dab of lemon zest.
When you bite into a piece of lemon zest, you get a burst of citrus flavor.
It’s slightly sweeter than the actual lemon, but still bitter enough to be tangy.
It also has a bit of floral character.
That’s because lemon zest is full of essential oils.
There’s citral, which gives it its distinct floral flavor, and limonene, which contributes to its citrus aroma.
Both of these compounds provide a hint of sweetness, as well.
What are the benefits of lemon zest?
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider incorporating lemon zest into your diet.
For starters, you may already use it in your everyday meals, as it is a popular flavoring agent in both sweet and savory dishes.
Lemon zest is also beneficial for those who want to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Many studies have shown that eating foods rich in antioxidants helps protect against oxidative stress, which can lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Lemon zest contains a lot of antioxidants, which means that you can reap the health benefits of lemon zest while enjoying tasty treats!
How is lemon zest used?
You’ve probably seen these words written on a restaurant menu: “sautéed shrimp with lemon zest.”
They’re using lemon zest to enhance their dish, but there are many ways to put it to good use.
For example, if you wanted to make homemade guacamole, you could add lemon zest to the avocados before blending them up.
You’d then add the rest of the ingredients and mash everything together until it was creamy and smooth.
Or you could try putting a few drops of lemon zest oil over your salad greens before topping them with your favorite dressing.
You can even sprinkle a little on top of your morning oatmeal for extra flavor.
What are some recipes that use lemon zest?
Lemon-Basil Chicken Skewers
Lemon-Pepper Pork Tenderloins
Tuna Salad with Lemon Zest
Citrus-and-Herb Salmon Fillets
Tropical Fruit Salad with Lemony Lime Dressing
Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Zest Syrup
Chicken Kebabs with Citrus Marinade
Spinach Pasta Alfredo with Crisped Lemon Zest Topping
Mixed Berry Parfaits with Lemon-Blueberry Cream Cheese
How can lemon zest be used for decoration?
You can decorate your table with lemon zest, too!
If you have a large lemon in front of you, you can simply slice off a thin strip of the zest and place it on the table for guests to use as a garnish.
Alternatively, you can use a vegetable peeler to create long strips of zest and place them around the perimeter of your serving platter.
Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to reuse any of the zest if you use this method.
If you’re worried about wastefulness, however, you can always save the leftover zest and store it in a glass jar in the fridge.
Just toss it with olive oil and season with salt before placing it on your table.
What is the history of lemon zest?
Leaves were once used as currency between countries.
One hundred leaves would equal one ounce (approximately 28 grams).
Some historians believe that the Egyptians invented the technique of peeling citrus fruit before they developed the cultivation of citrus trees.
However, the Greeks became famous for their citrus gardens, and they introduced the world to lemon and lime juice.
By the middle of the 17th century, lemon groves had become common throughout Spain, France, and Italy.
How is lemon zest made?
To extract the zest from the fruit, you need to carefully remove the outermost layer of the peel.
Then you rinse it under cold running water to clean it off.
After that, you dry it thoroughly before chopping it up into small bits for use.
Sometimes, you can use a grater instead.
Either way, it’s important to never wash a freshly peeled lemon with warm water.
Doing so will cause the water to dissolve the natural oils that are contained within the peel.
These same oils are responsible for the tart and citrusy flavor of lemon zest.
What is the nutritional value of lemon zest?
Like other citrus fruits, lemon zest is packed with nutrients that help fight illness and promote overall wellness.
In fact, a single cup of sliced lemon zest provides about half of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C.
Vitamin A is another nutrient that is abundant in lemon zest.
It contains nearly 100% of the daily recommended intake of this vital nutrient.
And there’s no shortage of omega-3 fatty acids in lemon zest, either.
Every tablespoon contains 1 gram of this essential nutrient.
Where can I buy lemon zest?
Lemons aren’t the only source of lemon zest.
Citrons, which are closely related to lemons, are also a good option.
Citron varieties include d’Avignon, Reine des Violettes, and Tangelos.
You can buy them in specialty markets and online.
If you live near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, you might be surprised to learn that you can buy lemon zest right where you shop for produce.
Many grocery stores now carry it alongside other citrus fruits.
If you can’t find it, ask the produce manager to order it for you.
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