For most bakers, zesting is an everyday occurrence (as well as, at most bars), but for others, it’s a simple zest here and there that’ll satisfy. From the diehard zesting enthusiasts to the people trying it the first time, here are a few tips and products to help you learn more about the art.
Don’t believe it’s an art? Did you know that lemons and limes that come from a normal grocery store typically have pesticides sprayed on the outside? So, even if you scrub the fruit before zesting it, you’re still going to get those pesticides in your recipe. Besides, when zest is added to the side of a beautiful cocktail, it does start to resemble art.
The Heart of Zesting
For lemons and limes, you’ll always want to find a fruit that feels heavy for its size – this means it’s perfectly ripe. And it’s best to pick your fruits and vegetables from a natural food market, to ensure nothing is sprayed on the outer layer. Other fruits and vegetables that you could zest, include potatoes, oranges, grapefruit, and apples; actually, we’ve seen avocados zested too.
Whichever fruit or vegetable you’re starting with, make sure to scrub them clean and then wipe them dry. When you get ready to zest, it is only the outermost layer that you want to take off. The white part is called the pith, and will give the recipe a tart flavor. Finally, if you zest more than your recipe calls for, it’s okay to freeze the remaining bits for a few months.
Safety Notice: If you’ve ever zested, you know that you should always keep Band-Aids nearby, but if you haven’t, well, zesting usually involves scrapped knuckles and fingers.
Microplane zesters produce a fine, airy zest that is perfect for cake toppings, or to swirl into popsicles before freezing them. Because the zest is so small, it’s easy to eat, and doesn’t take away from other ingredients, but make sure to avoid the pith. You can also use them to finely shred parmesan cheese to top Caesar salad and pasta dishes. These zesters are usually small enough for the waitstaff to carry them from table to table.
Manual Citrus Zesters
These little gadgets are handheld and are also easy to carry around. They produce a thicker zest than the microplane zester, and the length of the zest can be from very short to long (it takes some time to get used to it to get these different lengths). These types of zesters will usually take more time to get the end result, but they are very inexpensive.
For thicker strips, you can also use a vegetable peeler to shave off big pieces of garnish. There’s the handheld type of peeler, and the table mountable ones that help do the job much quicker. Again, you’ll have to watch how close you get to the pith.
The Zip Zester is very similar to a table mounted vegetable peeler, but was made specifically for busy bars and bakeries looking for an easy zester. This zester is capable of creating:
- A thick peel for swirled garnish that can be added to the side of drinks.
- Thin ribbons that can easily be shaped in bows and ribbons.
- Fine zest or strands of zest.
To create the different types of zest mentioned, you’ll need the 4 different blade types (the main product only comes with the blade for thick peels and fine zest).
What makes the Zip Zester unique is that it helps save time (up to 10 times faster than other zesters), helps prevent knuckle scrapes, and totally avoids the white pith. It is also capable of cutting potatoes for curly fries, fruit strands to infuse vodka, and other garnish types similar to the zesters mentioned above.