How to Zest a Lime

Опубликовал Admin
5-10-2016, 03:05
6 060
The zest of a lime is the outer green layer of peel, which contains fragrant and flavorful oils. Lime zest adds intense flavor to cocktails, desserts and a number of other recipes. The easiest tool for creating fine lime zest for cooking is a microplane, while long garnish strips or cocktail twists can be made with a traditional zester. However, with a little more effort and practice, either form of zest can be created with nothing more than a sharp knife or vegetable peeler.

Using a Microplane or Fine Grater

  1. Wash the lime under cool, running water. Rub the limes gently with your fingers to remove grime or waxy substances, even if there is no visible dirt on the lime. Pat dry with a clean towel to clean the lime further and make it easier to grip.
  2. Place your microplane above a cutting board at a 45-degree angle. A microplane grater is a flat or curved metal kitchen tool with tiny, sharp holes across its surface. It can be used to produce finely grated lime zest with little effort.
    • If you have a grater with several sizes of holes, use the smallest size. It may or may not be a microplane, but can be used as a zester nonetheless.
  3. Gently push the lime across the surface of the microplane. Rest your lime on top of the microplane, near the base. Push the lime gently across the blades. This should shave the skin into a fine zest, which will fall onto the cutting board for you to collect.
    • Notice that the blades are angled in one direction. Pushing the lime against the cutting edges of the blades will produce zest, while pushing it in the opposite direction will have no effect. The cutting edges of the blades should be facing up toward the ceiling.
    • If you are using a fine grater instead of a microplane, push as gently as possible to avoid digging into the bitter, white pith beneath the skin.
  4. Rotate the lime to zest the rest of the fruit. Zest the first area until the colored skin has been removed. Once the white pith beneath the skin is revealed, rotate the lime to rub a new section of the colored skin over the microplane in the same way.
    • Be careful not to remove the bitter white pith beneath the skin.
  5. Collect the zest and place it in a small bowl. Once the whole lime has been zested, or you have as much zest as you need, set aside the lime for later use. Use a knife to scrape the zest off the cutting board and into a small bowl, or directly into the dish you are cooking as instructed by the recipe.
    • You don't need to spend the effort getting every last piece of zest out of the lime. The ends of the lime may be difficult to zest, for instance.
  6. Rinse the microplane immediately or leave it in a warm location to dry out. If you allow the zest residue to dry in the tiny holes of the microplane, it can be difficult to clean out later. Use running water to wash it out immediately, scrubbing with a thick-bristled brush. Alternatively, try using no water at all and setting the microplane near a stove or on a sunny windowsill. The heat may be enough to dry out the stuck pieces until they can be easily brushed off.

Using a Traditional Zester

  1. Wash and dry the lime. Hold the lime under a stream of cool water and rub gently. Pat dry with a towel.
  2. Get out your cutting board and zester. A zester is a kitchen tool with several tiny blades or sharp holes, which creates long, curling ribbons of lime zest, perfect for garnishing. Alternatively, these strips can then be chopped finely for use in cooking.
    • Some refer to this tool as a "traditional zester" and call microplanes "microplane zesters."
  3. Pull the zester along the surface of the lime. If you are creating a garnish for a cocktail or dish, remove part of the white pith along with the colored zest in order to keep the curl intact. If you are using the zest for cooking, try to only remove thin strips of the colored zest.
  4. Rotate the lime and repeat the process. Once the strips have been removed and the white pith beneath is exposed, rotate to an untouched section of the lime. Continue to pull the zester over the lime until you have the amount of zest you need for your recipe.
    • The thickness of lime skin varies more than most citrus fruit, so it is difficult to predict how much zest is produced by one lime. If the recipe calls for "zest from one lime" without specifying the variety of lime, use approximately two tsp (10 mL) of zest.
  5. Chop the strips of zest finely (optional). If you are using the zest as a decorative garnish, skip this step. If you are using them in a recipe, use a sharp knife to cut the zest into fine pieces.

Using a Vegetable Peeler or Paring Knife

  1. Use this method only if you don't have other tools. When you don’t have a microplane or a zester, then a vegetable peeler or paring knife will get the job done. This process isn’t recommended if you want uniform curls or a very fine zest.
  2. Rinse and dry the lime. Hold the lime under running water and rub off grime with your fingers. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  3. Place the lime on a cutting board and hold it with your non-dominant hand. Set a clean cutting board on a stable surface. Place the lime on top of the cutting board and hold it firmly in place near the base.
    • If you are right-handed, hold the lime with your left hand. If you are left-handed, hold it with your right hand.
  4. Position the vegetable peeler or paring knife. Hold the peeler or knife against the top of the lime, with the blade facing you. Do not try to point the blade away from you, as zesting this way provides less control and increases the odds of cutting yourself.
  5. Methodically peel the zest from the lime. Pull the peeler or knife toward you, pressing lightly into the lime's skin. Ideally, only remove the colored zest portion of the peel, not the white pith underneath. However, press deeper into the pith if it helps keep the knife steady and controlled.
  6. Trim the white pith from the zest unless using strips for garnish. Use your paring knife or any sharp, small knife to remove large pieces of white, fleshy pith from the underside of the peeled zest. This is highly recommended if using the zest in recipes, as the pith adds a bitter taste. However, if you are using the zest strips as garnish or in a cocktail, you do not need to remove the pith.
  7. Chop the zest into small pieces (optional). Use the same knife to chop the zest into fine pieces. It is now ready to be added to recipes. As for the rest of the lime, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for later use.


  • If the lime is too soft to zest effectively, put it in the freezer for two minutes to make it firm.
  • The best limes to zest are brightly colored and smell strongly when scratched. Thin-skinned limes such as key limes may be difficult to zest.
  • If you dislike cleaning your microplane, you can try putting a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper between the microplane and the lime while zesting. This may simply shred the plastic or paper, however, so use only sturdy materials.
  • If you’re using both the zest and the juice of a lime, zest the lime before juicing it.
  • You can refrigerate limes that have had the zest removed and juice them later. Wrap them in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

Things You'll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Small bowl
  • Microplane or
  • Zester or
  • Vegetable peeler or
  • Paring knife
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