What is Orange Zest?

How to Zest an Orange with Grater

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Step 3: Measure the zest you need for your recipe.Small grater, Orange and BowlStep 1: hold grater at an angle and run orange against surface until peel grates off.  You can do just the outside orange surface for zest, or also use the inner white surface (with a bit more bitter flavor).Step 2: Turn the orange as you grate it to get the zest from all over. This orange was so fresh, I grated down to the fruit.
Step 3: Measure the zest you need for your recipe.
Step 3: Measure the zest you need for your recipe. | Source
Small grater, Orange and Bowl
Small grater, Orange and Bowl | Source
Step 1: hold grater at an angle and run orange against surface until peel grates off.  You can do just the outside orange surface for zest, or also use the inner white surface (with a bit more bitter flavor).
Step 1: hold grater at an angle and run orange against surface until peel grates off. You can do just the outside orange surface for zest, or also use the inner white surface (with a bit more bitter flavor). | Source
Step 2: Turn the orange as you grate it to get the zest from all over. This orange was so fresh, I grated down to the fruit.
Step 2: Turn the orange as you grate it to get the zest from all over. This orange was so fresh, I grated down to the fruit. | Source

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

Store remaining zest in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for a month.  Or dry your zest in the oven and store indefinitely.  Or use it to make Orange Zest Sugar.
Store remaining zest in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for a month. Or dry your zest in the oven and store indefinitely. Or use it to make Orange Zest Sugar. | Source

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
baked goods
for shining wood
repelling insects
flavoring for marinade
removing water stains from metal
keeping garbage cans smelling better
topping drinks
mixed with vinegar for cleaner
fire starters

Orange Zest Sugar

Orange Zest Sugar on French Toast
Orange Zest Sugar on French Toast | Source

Orange Zest Sugar

5 stars from 2 ratings of orange zest flavored sugar

Ingredients for Orange Sugar

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 TB orange zest

Instructions

  1. Grate orange zest.
  2. Mix 1-2 TB of orange zest with sugar. Put in covered container and store in a cool place.
  3. Use as a topping for fruits and desserts. Use to flavor teas, coffee or other drinks.

Fun Orange Facts Quiz

Candied Peel

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

I love using orange zest for baking cakes. Thanks for sharing this very informative hub. Well done.


DonnaCaprio profile image

DonnaCaprio 2 years ago from Newburyport, MA

Great information on using orange zest. I will grate some zest from my oranges for a recipe occasionally. I did not realize that it could be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Thanks!


VioletteRose profile image

VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

This is very useful information, thank you!


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Thanks for the different ways on how to zest an orange and the meaning behind zesting an orange. Very useful when it comes to cooking. Voted up.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 3 years ago from United States Author

You can buy this in the spice section of the store where dried zest is sometimes available. Or you can make your own using oranges in one of the ways I show in this article.


Toni booker 3 years ago

Where can I find orange zest


sarahbyers profile image

sarahbyers 4 years ago from waco tx

Great to know. The complete explanations made it easy to follow. Ideas and possibilities are boundless.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks prairieprincess--you know since I've done this Hub I'm using orange zest more too!


Rachel 4 years ago

I knew nothing about orange zest but I like to bake, so this could come in handy some day. This is interesting to me because i like learning about food and learning different ways to use it.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Virginia, this is wonderful! I did not know any of this about orange zest, and never thought of using it an a recipe. Now my brain is going, thinking of ways I might be able to use it in a recipe. Voted up and everything but useful, and shared.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Ashley--I always enjoy writing about something specific like orange zest because I learn new things. Before writing this Hub, I didn't know orange zest could substitute for juice or extract.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

SethPipkin--Orange zest is a pretty specialized ingredient, but at least you'll know what it is if you run across it in cooking!


ashleybperkins profile image

ashleybperkins 4 years ago

I thought this article was eye-catching because I did not know what orange zest was. I had only previous knowledge that the peel was bitter and had always thrown it out. This relates to my own experience because I thought that the peel was inedible so would never eaten it before, but thought that was funny because I have previously eaten orange zest. I find orange zest interesting because of the flavor it can give to some foods.


SethPipkin profile image

SethPipkin 4 years ago

I don't use oranges much for anything but eating but i was fascinated by the ways you can use orange zest and what it is in general.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Cyndi--I'm going to try that with lemon for ice tea this weekend.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Great instructions. I like the idea of the orange zest and the sugar mix. Never tried that before. Thanks for the info.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 4 years ago

I love cooking with orange zest. I add it to a lot of my recipes. I even added it to my home made bread and it tastes oh so yummy. Great hub. Thanks for the refrigerator tip, I hadn't thought of that.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Heather--As the Mom of 5 I'm always trying to cut down on tasks. I've got my zest in the refrigerator and I think I'll use it in some sugar cookies--yum.


Heather63 profile image

Heather63 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Hi Virginia - I really learned a lot from this. The step-by-step illustrations always help me understand a process better. And I'd never thought about storing zest to use later - great idea!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Carol--I had not realized until I researched the Hub how zest can be used in place of extract and juice. The Orange honey butter I made using the zest is absolutely terrific and wouldn't work well with juice.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Well done hub. I never thought about how versatile orange zest can be. Why not use the whole orange. I have done this with lemon..now I will try orange. Enjoyed this hub a lot.

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