From limoncello to teriyaki sauces and cupcakes, citrus zests enhance the quality of the flavor and texture when used in recipes. Zesting your citrus is worth the effort to delight your tastebuds, however, overzealous zesting can make your tongue sting and lips pucker. The first rule of zesting: avoid the pith!
Citrus pith is the white spongy tissue lining the skin of the fruit and stemming through the core. The pith has a very bitter taste and can add an overwhelming unpleasant flavor if not removed when using for recipes.
Always wash your citrus thoroughly with a vegetable/fruit brush and dry completely before zesting.
A knife or thin peeler can be used for zesting, but I’ve found that a microplane works best. Turn the fruit while zesting lightly, being careful not to cut into the white pith. In the case of lemons, they should still be yellow for the most part after removing the zests, and the zests themselves should be bright yellow with no white streaks.
If your recipe calls only for the zests, save your citrus! Squeeze them and freeze in ice cube trays for a later recipe or make lemonade or orange juice.
Well, there you go…happy zesting!