In this post, we’ll share How to Zest a Lemon (grated lemon peel),  how to store it, how to use it and what lemon peel benefits have to offer.  

lemon zest

Lemon zest adds such a pop of flavor to just about any dish (the possibilities are endless really) and the use of grated lemon peel provides a host of nutritional benefits that are worthy of our attention.

grated citrus with d limonene

A good habit to get into is – whenever you pick up a lemon to squeeze for juice, be sure to zest the lemon first, then freeze the zest for later. That way you’ll always have these bright flavorful flecks of immune-boosting nutritional gold to add to your recipes.

What is Lemon Zest

Citrus zest is the outermost layer of the peel which is known as the flavedo. This flavedo (outer layer) contains a compound known as D limonene, which gives lemon peel its fragrant aroma and provides a host of nutritional benefits.

The soft spongy white inner layer (“pith”) which is between the peel (zest) and the fruit has a neutral or slight bitter flavor, but it’s also rich with nutritional value.

How to Make Lemon Zest

Be sure to rinse the lemon under cold water and pat dry. If you’re not using organic lemons, you can rinse with baking soda and water and gently rub the lemon peel to wash away any residue. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter to catch the flecks of zest.

  • Microplane or Cheese Grater. Using a microplane or cheese grater are the easiest ways to grate lemon zest.Run the side of a lemon back and forth over the microplane or grater being careful not to get the pith.  You may get a little added pith to your zest and that’s perfectly okay. Continue to rotate the lemon until you have the desired amount of zest.
  • Citrus zester. Using a citrus zester will provide longer pieces of zest. Run the zester along the side of a lemon and scrape down the sides. Continue to rotate the lemon until you have the desired amount of zest.
  • Vegetable peeler or Knife. If you don’t have a microplane, cheese grater or citrus zester, then you can use a vegetable peeler or a pairing knife. Carefully run the peeler or knife along the side of a lemon to scrape down the sides. You’ll need to cut the pieces into much smaller pieces (finely mince) if you’re adding to recipes.

lemon zest for lemon peel benefits

How Much Zest in a Lemon

That will depend on the size of the lemon and how ripe with juice the lemon is. On average one medium-size lemon may provide 2-3 tablespoons of juice and about 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.

Can You Freeze Lemon Zest

Citrus zest can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week, and if kept in a tightly sealed freezer bag, it can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. 

  1. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat, parchment paper or waxed paper.
  2. Label freezer bags with date and contents of bag.
  3. Zest the desired amount of lemon zest.
  4. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice in the zest. This helps the zest stick together better when frozen.
  5. Using a teaspoon, measure the lemon zest and place by the teaspoonfuls on a Silpat, parchment or waxed paper. (I like to measure out the zest by the teaspoonful that way when I toss the zest in recipes – it’s already measured out for me).
  6. Pop in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, or until frozen solid and won’t flake apart when touched.
  7. Transfer the frozen lemon zest discs to a plastic freezer bag. 

freezer bag with lemon zest - lemon peel benefits

How to Use It

Lemon zest is such a great addition to so many recipes for not only the perky pop of flavor but for nutritional benefits as well. 

  • Stir into vinaigrettes
  • Toss into salads
  • Stir into soups
  • Toss with garlic and olive oil for roasted vegetables
  • Add to smoothies (I do this a lot)
  • Simmer with fresh ginger in water for a tea
  • Sprinkle over yogurt
  • Toss with berries to add to hot cereal (like oatmeal)
  • Stir into sauces
  • Add to marinades
  • Sprinkle over seafood dishes
  • Use it to bake with (like for blueberry muffins, etc).
  • Add it to pancake batter (lemon blueberry pancakes)
  • Blend it with herb butter (for garlic bread, flour tortillas and corn on the cob)
  • Mix with fresh dill and yogurt for a lemon dill sauce.

grated lemon peel

Lemon Peel Benefits

Here are some of the lemon peel benefits worthy to note.

  • Immune Boosting. Lemon peel is rich with vitamin C and phytochemicals which may provide immunostimulation activies. (1)
  • Rich with antioxidants. Rich with antioxidants including d-limonene and vitamin C, which is linked to reduced risk of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some studies show that d-limonene boosts certain enzymes that helps to reduce oxidative stress (which is associated with accelerated aging). (2) (3) (4)
  • Antibacterial. Contains antibacterial substances that may inhibit microorganism growth. There are four compounds in lemon peel that have powerful antibacterial properties and may effectively fight Streptococcus mutans  and certain bacteria common to oral-disease.  (5) (6)
  • Promotes a healthy heart. Certain research suggest that the fiber, vitamin C and flavonoids found in lemon peel may help reduce risk os cardiovascular disease. And the pectin and d limonene found in lemon peel may help lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). (7) (8)

citrus with d limonene

Looking for more lemon recipes?

Want more ideas? Check out all my lemon recipes.

lemon zest
Yield: 6-9 teaspoons

How to Zest a Lemon

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

In this post, we'll share How to Zest a Lemon (grated lemon peel),  how to store it, how to use it and what lemon peel benefits have to offer. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon

Instructions

Microplane or Cheese Grater. Using a microplane or cheese grater are the easiest ways to grate lemon zest.Run the side of a lemon back and forth over the microplane or grater being careful not to get the pith.  You may get a little added pith to your zest and that's perfectly okay. Continue to rotate the lemon until you have the desired amount of zest.

Citrus zester. Using a citrus zester will provide longer pieces of zest. Run the zester along the side of a lemon and scrape down the sides. Continue to rotate the lemon until you have the desired amount of zest.

Vegetable peeler or Knife. If you don't have a microplane, cheese grater or citrus zester, then you can use a vegetable peeler or a pairing knife. Carefully run the peeler or knife along the side of a lemon to scrape down the sides. You'll need to cut the pieces into much smaller pieces (finely mince) if you're adding to recipes.

Notes

Tips

Be sure to rinse the lemon under cold water and pat dry. If you're not using organic lemons, you can rinse with baking soda and water and gently rub the lemon peel to wash away any residue. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter to catch the flecks of zest.

Whenever you pick up a lemon to juice it for a vinaigrette or whatever, zest it first before juicing, then freeze the zest for later. That way you won't waste an important part of the fruit and you'll always have these bright flavorful flecks of nutritional gold to add to your recipes.

Can You Freeze Lemon Zest

Citrus zest can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week, and if kept in a tightly sealed freezer bag, it can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. 

Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat, parchment paper or waxed paper.

Label freezer bags with date and contents of bag.

Zest the desired amount of lemon zest.

Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice in the zest. This helps the zest stick together better when frozen.

Using a teaspoon, measure the lemon zest and place by the teaspoonfuls on a Silpat, parchment or waxed paper. (I like to measure out the zest by the teaspoonful that way when I toss them in recipes - it's already measured out for me).

Pop in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, or until frozen solid and won't flake apart when touched.

Transfer the frozen lemon zest discs to a plastic freezer bag. 

How to Use It

Lemon zest is such a great addition to so many recipes for an added perky pop of flavor and nutritional benefits.

Stir into vinaigrettes

Toss into salads

Stir into soups

Toss with garlic and olive oil for roasted vegetables

Add to smoothies (I do this a lot)

Sprinkle over yogurt

Toss with berries to add to hot cereal (like oatmeal)

Stir into sauces

Add to marinades

Sprinkle over seafood dishes

Use it to bake with (like for blueberry muffins, etc).

Add it to pancake batter (lemon blueberry pancakes)

Blend it with herb butter (for garlic bread, flour tortillas and corn on the cob)

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 4Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

theharvestkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate information, however, this nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. The nutritional information provided comes from online sources and calculations.