What is Orange Zest?
Grater MethodClick thumbnail to view full-size
Orange Peel vs. Orange Zest
Zest is thin strips of the outside peel of an orange and is what is used in most recipes.
Orange Peel is the whole outside part including the more bitter white rind. Usually cut into strips, it is used for decoration and in marmalade.
3 Ways to Zest an Orange
Microplane: You can buy a special tool 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 and an advantage of microplane zesting is the strips are longer and darker in color. However, it takes longer and is a little bit harder to do. This method looks the best when decorating a cake, drinks, candy or other food.
Grater: If you need a lot, or are using peel in cooking, this is the fastest and easiest method. All you need is a grater with small holes, which you probably have as part of your cheese grater. Just grate the orange the way you would cheese, moving it around so you mostly get the colored part.
Paring Knife: In a pinch, you can make zest from oranges, lemons or limes by using a paring knife or potato peeler. Carefully cut off thin slices of the top of the peel. Then cut those slices into strips. This method also works if you want longer, larger or thicker peel slices or orange peel cut into different shapes.
When you need orange flavor, your best choice is fresh zest or juice. However, in a pinch you can try one of these substitutes, which are all the same as 1 teaspoon freshly grated zest:
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons concentrated orange juice
- 1 teaspoon dried grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 teaspoons grated candied orange peel
Is it all right to use dried orange zest? Does it taste any good? Sure! Dried 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? I usually buy it from Amazon because it is cheaper, but you can sometimes find it in the spice section of a supermarket. Dried 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.
Make your own. Let zested peels dry out and then put 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.
Facts and Tips
"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 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 last to most recipes, especially frostings.
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 y and you can store in your cupboard indefinitely. To dry, spread out on a baking sheet and put in the oven:
- At 250 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until dry (often I shut off the oven and just leave overnight).
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
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1-2 TB orange zest
- Grate orange zest
- Mix 1-2 TB of 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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