Orange zest is the orange part of the peel that contains the essential oils of the orange. It is usually grated or zested with a Microplane to release its flavor. The five best ways to zest an orange include using a Microplane, grater, knife, or peeler. The zest is used to flavor many dishes, such as cakes, cookies, pies, and salads.
The zest of orange can also be used as a garnish for cocktails and other drinks. Adding zest is a simple way to add orange flavor to recipes without having to use the whole fruit.
No matter which method you use, be sure to zest your orange before you juice it.
How to Store Orange Zest
Maybe you have some extra oranges and want to store the zest for later use. There are a few different ways that you can store fresh orange zest.
- Freeze it: Simply place the zest in a freezer-safe container and store it for up to six months.
- Dry it: Another option is to dried orange zest. You can do this by spreading the zest on a baking sheet and placing it in a preheated oven set to the lowest setting. Dry the zest until it is brittle, then store it in an airtight container.
- Refrigerate it: Lastly, you can also store fresh orange zest in the fridge. Place the zest in a sealed container and store it in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks.
Whichever storage method you choose, make sure to label the container with the date so you know when it was last used.
This is my favorite way to zest citrus. Using a zester tool, carefully scrape the zest from the outermost layer of the skin. Be careful not to zest too deeply, as this can cause the bitter white pith to be included in your zest. If you want to get one of these great tools I've linked to my pick on Amazon.
To zest an orange with a knife by following these simple steps:
First, wash the orange to remove any dirt or wax.
Next, use a sharp paring knife to remove the orange peel into strips. Be sure to avoid getting any of the bitter white pith beneath the zest. Once you have removed the zest, you can finely chop it or use it as is. Just a small amount of zest can go a long way in adding fresh flavor to your favorite recipes.
Run the peeler along the outside of the orange, being careful not to take off too much of the underlying white pith. Once you've peeled off a good amount of zest, you can use a knife to chop it up into smaller pieces if needed.
All you need to do is grate the orange peel against the coarse side of the grater. Be careful not to grate too deep - you just want the zest, not the white pith beneath it. Once you've grated all of the peel, simply use a knife to remove any remaining zest from the grater.
Cut off one end of the orange so that you have a flat surface to work with. Hold the orange in one hand and the Microplane in the other, and carefully run the Microplane over the surface of the fruit. The Microplane will strip away the outer layer of the orange peel, leaving behind the zest. Continue zesting until you have enough for your needs.
Need a substitute for the orange zest?