What is Orange Zest?
How to Zest an Orange with GraterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Orange Peel vs. Orange Zest
Orange zest is thin strips of the outside peel of an orange and is also called grated orange rind in some recipes.
Orange Peel is the whole outside part of an orange and includes the white part which is bitter. Orange peel is used in some dishes like Orange Marmalade.
3 Ways to Zest an Orange
Microplane Zesting: You can buy a special tool for zesting called a micro plane which you pull along the orange to scrape off thin strips of the colored peel. This is not an expensive kitchen tool, so it pays to buy a good quality one from a brand like Mullier that will last for many years. The advantage of micro plane zesting is the strips are longer and darker in color. However, it takes longer and is a little bit harder to do. Microplane zesting works any time you need orange peel but it is especially nice when you are using the peel for decorating a cake, drinks, candy or other food.
Grater Zesting: If you need a lot of grated orange peel, or are using peel in cooking, this is the fastest and easiest method. You do need to have a grater with small holes. You won't be able to do this with your large cheese grater. However, many cheese graters have a section which is smaller and can be used to grate citrus peels of oranges, lemons, and limes.
Paring Knife Zesting: If you don't have a micro plane or a small grater, you can make zest from oranges, lemons or limes by using a paring knife and/or a potato peeler. Carefully cut off thin slices of the top of the peel. Then cut those slices into strips. Paring knife zesting also works if you want longer, larger or thicker peel slices or orange peel cut into different shapes.
Orange Zest Recipe Substitutes
When you need orange flavor in a dish, your best choice is fresh orange zest or juice. However, you can substitute these equivalents in recipes:
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated zest is the same as:
- 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon dried grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 teaspoons grated candied orange peel
Dried Orange Zest
Is it all right to use dried orange zest? Making orange zest does add another step to recipes, so what about buying dried orange zest? Does it taste any good? Sure! Dried zest may not have quite the orange punch, but it works just fine in a pinch, especially if you are adding it to baked goods.
Where do you find dried orange zest? I usually buy it direct from Amazon because it is cheaper, but you can sometimes find dried orange zest in the spice section of a supermarket. Dried zest doesn't look as nice as a garnish, but it is a lot easier to have some in your cupboard that you just pull out and use if you don't have fresh oranges or the time to zest an orange.
Make your own dried zest. You can even make your own dried orange zest by just letting the zested peels dry out and then putting them in a jar. However, I generally find the zest is better if I put the extra in a Ziplock bag and put it in the freezer.
Keep dried zest as an orange flavor substitute. Better yet, if you look at the substitutions for zest above, you can see that dried zest can be used as a substitute for orange flavor in recipes.
How to Zest Orange and Cut
Tips About Orange Zest
"Zest" is an excellent word for grated orange peelings because it adds a distinctive flavor and smell to foods. Here are some facts to know:
- The colored part of the rind is less bitter than the white.
- Citrus rinds have more oil in them than juice, so they actually add more flavor than juice to recipes.
- You need to be careful to add it lightly because too much orange zest can make your recipe bitter.
- Usually, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon is enough. Start with that and add more if you want more flavor.
- Add the zest last to most recipes, especially frostings.
I love using orange zest in Honey Butter. You can flavor drinks with the Orange Zest Sugar recipe below.
Storing Orange Zest
Storing Orange Peel Zest
Orange zest can be stored in a Ziplock bag or other airtight container:
- In the refrigerator for 1 week.
- In the freezer for a month.
Or dry your extra orange peel zest and you can store in your cupboard indefinitely. To dry, spread grated citrus peel out on a baking sheet and put in oven:
- At 250 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until dry (often I shut off the oven and just leave the orange peels in there overnight).
Uses for Orange Peel
In Cooking use Zest for
Household use Peel for
Outside use Peel for
for shining wood
flavoring for marinade
removing water stains from metal
keeping garbage cans smelling better
mixed with vinegar for cleaner
Orange Zest Sugar
Orange Zest Sugar
Ingredients for Orange Sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1-2 TB orange zest
- Grate orange zest.
- Mix 1-2 TB of orange zest with sugar. Put in covered container and store in a cool place.
- Use as a topping for fruits and desserts. Use to flavor teas, coffee or other drinks.
Fun Orange Facts Quiz
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