What is Lime Zest and How Do I Zest A Lime?
I received an email from a visitor asking about "lime zest" - what it is and do I mean, "pulp"?
Lime zest is the outermost part of a lime that is used to add intense citrus flavor to recipes. It is not pulp but the green part of the peel. The white part attached to the outer skin is called the pith and should not used because of its bitterness.
This means you have to be very careful when removing the zest from a lime not to take both the pith and the zest. This often happens when you use a vegetable peeler. The zest has aromatic oils that give an extra boost of citrus flavor.
To remove just the zest, food scientists have come up with special tools called a zester. This precisely designed hand apparatus removes tiny filaments of zest from a lime, lemon, orange or any other type of citrus fruit.
There are several different designs but one of the most common models has a row of small sharp holes drilled into a row of stiff metal. The more expensive ones are made of stainless steel and won't rust as easily.
The Black Handled Citrus Zester above is from OXO is a good one and available at Amazon.com. It sells for about $8.00
As you scrape the zester across the lime, little filaments of zest are removed without the pith. It takes a little doing and some practice the first time around but after a few times you will have it down.
Another tool that's hot right now and I love is the Microplane Grater/Zester. I have one that I use mostly for grating garlic and ginger but it works great for zesting. It's like using a carpenter's rasp but only smaller and sharper little holes. You don't get the clean filaments like you do with a conventional zester but in the end it works just as well.
I highly recommend the Microplane Grater/Zester because it has lots of other uses but if you don't want to go for one, you can always use a vegetable peeler. Being careful not to include the pith, remove a strip of peel with your peeler and cut it into narrow strips with a sharp kitchen knife.
Whether you use a zester or a peeler, you end up having to finely chop the zest before adding it to the dish. To be completely honest here, I have never had much success with a conventional zester and opt for my Microplane or vegetable peeler although I do have zester in my kitchen drawer along with every other gadget available to home cooks who like kitchen toys.
Oh, by the way, fruit pulp is the soft moist part of a fruit or the fleshy plant stuff remaining after all the juice has been extracted.