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Lemon Zesting and Juicing Tips

Photos: Scott Phillips
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Getting the most zest

Thick-skinned lemons, which tend to have pebbly-textured skin, are easiest to zest.

Before zesting, scrub the lemon’s skin well to remove any residues (a soak in warm water can help remove any wax coating)

Remove just the thin yellow layer of rind, not the white pith below, which will add bitter flavors to your food.

The lemon’s volatile oils are strongest just after zesting, so remove the zest just before you use it. But if you’re using both the zest and the juice, zest the lemon before juicing it.

Finely grated zest releases more flavor than larger strips.

A rasp-style grater is the ideal tool for finely grated zest (right). It’s easy to use, and it gives you the most zest.
Finely grated zest releases more flavor than larger strips.

A channel zester gives you long, skinny strips of zest.
For slightly thicker strips, ideal for garnishes or candying, try a channel knife.

Getting the most juice

The juiciest lemons tend to be those with thin skins. If the lemon skin is smooth rather than textured, that’s a tip-off that the skin is thin. And small to medium-size lemons are generally thinner skinned than large one

If you squeeze the fruit using only your hands, first roll the lemon on the counter and then microwave for 30 seconds. You’ll get more juice.

For juicing more than one lemon, a hand-held tool like a juicer or reamer is more efficient.

Don’t waste a drop: extra juice freezes well for up to 3 months.

How much zest and juice?

This chart is a guideline to how much zest and juice you can expect to get from common citrus fruits.


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