Lime zest is added to all kinds of recipes. It is really easy to make. When a recipe calls for lime juice then zest will take that flavor up a note seeing how strong it is. It is a great alternative to lemon zest.
The citrus flavor that you get is really amazing from such a small piece of the outer peel.
- 1 Lime
- Micro plane
- Vegetable peeler
- Fine grater
- Chef knife
- Cutting board
What is lime zest
It is the darker green outer part of the limes peel. It is used to concentrate the lime flavor in recipes.
Sometimes it is used along with lime juice and other times by itself. The zest from a lime actually brings out a stronger lime flavor in recipes than lime juice.
A lot of times when you only use lime juice you will lose the flavor during the cooking process.
How to zest a lime
The best way to zest is with a Microplane. This is a type of grater that resembles the woodworking tool.
Using a Microplane is the best way to zest a lime because it is easy to use and it is sharp to keep your zest consistent.
It is a handheld tool with a metal plate that has small sharp holes in the front.
These holes are small and keep the zest consistent in size. Using a microplane makes zest fast and easy.
1. Wash the lime
It is always important to wash your fruit before you start working. Rinse the limes under cold water, giving it a light scrub. If you like using vegetable spray or wash, that is fine too.
Washing the limes will hopefully make sure there are no harmful chemicals on the fruit from where it was grown or any bacteria that might have gotten on them while in transport.
Some would say it is important to dewax your citrus fruit.
If you wanted to dewax your limes you would run boiling water over them and then scrub them with a vegetable brush while rinsing them under cool water.
Just simply rinse your limes and then dry them if you want.
2. Zest the lime with a microplane
Zesting your limes with a Microplane is the best way to zest a lime! The Microplane has small sharp holes in which zests your lime consistently and easily.
Holding the Microplane in a standing position with the flat bottom on the cutting board, hold your lime with your other hand sweeping it downward across the blades.
Keep rotating the lime and sweeping it across the blades until you have the amount of zest that you want or until the green is gone on the lime.
Make sure you do not push down too hard or else you will get into the white part of the peel which you do not want. The white part of the rind is very bitter.
If you are also planning to use the juice from the lime, make sure to zest first. Trust me, it is not easy to zest a lime that has already been squeezed.
Zesting with a box grater
Box grater are very versatile kitchen tools. If you do not have a microplane you can still get a good zest from your lime using a box grater.
You can zest your lime with the smaller grating holes. This works much like using a mircoplane as you simply slide your lime down across the small sharp holes.
Continue to turn your lime and not zest in the same spot twice because you are likely to get the white bitter part of the peel. Remember, you only what to zest off the green of the peel so use light pressure when sliding the lime across the grater.
You can also use the rough rasp side as well to get really fine zest from your lime.
If you want to add a different flavor to a recipe that is also a citrus try orange zest.
Making zest with a vegetable peeler
So you want to zest a lime and you don’t have a microplane or a box grater? You are in luck! You can gently scrape the peel with a vegetable peeler and this will still work but it has one extra step.
Holding your lime in one hand and the vegetable peeler in the other, gently scrape at the lime peel. Use small sweeping motions and make sure to continue turning the lime as you go.
As I have mentioned in the other zesting methods, try not to get too deep. Stay away from the bitter white layer of the peel.
Once you have a good pile of green strips grab a chefs knife and chop up the pieces as fine as you can.
I like to pile them up and cut across the pile a few times, stack them back into a pile and cut across the other direction.
Now you can go ahead and rock your knife back and forth over your pile to mince up the zest.
What to use lime zest for
There are so many things you can use it for. The zest helps to concentrate the lime flavor in recipes.
Sometimes lime flavor fades during the cooking process, using the zest of the lime will help keep that lime flavor in your dish.
Adding it to your marinade or dressing will give you a great citrus flavor. Add it when you are baking it gives you that little zing of flavor that will make your dessert pop. There are so many ways to use your zest! You can use it as a garnish, in your icing, or even add it to your mayo… The list goes on and on.
Use it in your recipes that need citrus and it will make your food shine! Check out how you should store limes.
Types of zesters
A Microplane is much like a grater except that it shaves much finer than a grater. It is held with a handle on one end and a flat edge on the other end standing on the cutting board. There is a metal plate in the middle with small sharp holes in which slices the lime perfectly and consistently.
Using one hand to keep it standing up while you hold the fruit with the other hand gently slide it downward with light pressure.
Box graters are commonly known for grating cheese. They stand on their own and usually have four different grater surfaces, one each side.
One side has larger holes for grating cheese, slicer for slicing cheese on the other side, smaller wholes for finer grated cheese or zesting, and a rough, raspy side for tougher things like ginger root, citrus zest or nutmeg when you want really small pieces.
When you are using a box grater be careful to keep your fingers out of the way. You can easily slice your fingers if you hold the lime too close.
Vegetable peelers are often used for peeling the skin off from carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and so much more.
These peelers are handheld with a blade on the top for peeling. There are many different varieties of vegetable peelers. Some peelers are just a handle and the blade across the top, some have the blade along the side, and there are even options that slide onto your finger so that you can swipe over what you are peeling.
When zesting a lime it is really important that you only zest the green off from the peel. If you push too hard and get too deep into the white of the peel, called the pith, it will give you a more bitter taste.
Check out these other great how to’s!
Lime Zest | 3 Easy Ways
- Box Grater
- Vegetable Peeler
- 1 Lime
How to zest a lime with a microplane
- Wash your lime under cold water or you can also use vegetable wash and then pat dry.
- Holding the microplane with one hand and the lime in the other, sweep the lime downward across the blades. Continue to turn the lime making sure you are only zesting in the same spot once.
Alternative: box grader
- You want to slide the lime down the side of the grater with the smallest holes. Be sure to watch your fingers so you don't cut yourself as you are sliding the lime down the sharp holes. Turn the lime with every swipe making sure to only zest the green of the peel.
Alternative: vegetable peeler
- Slide the blade over the lime peel taking small peices only taking the green off from the peel. Roate the lime with every swipe so that you dont get down to the white bitter part of the peel.
- Once you have all of your little slices, pile them up and chop them into a mince.