WHAT IS ZEST?
It’s the outer layer of skin of any citrus fruit. This ingredient is one of the few words in food that’s used as both a noun and a verb. Officially known as the flavedo or exocarp, this is the most exterior part of the fruit followed by the spongy white pith. While the zest is sought after for its flavor, the underlying pith has a sour flavor making it important to be careful not to grate too deeply. Mandarines tend to have the most zest compared to pith versus fruits like citron. However the wax coating naturally present on fruits is washed off during the picking and packing process. An artificial coating is usually sprayed on citrus fruits prior to transport as a form of protection. Before zesting this is easily removed by washing the fruit under hot tap water, and scrubbing once over with a brush.
WHY IS ZEST GOOD FOR YOU?
They’re rich in calcium and vitamin C. Zest can have as much as 5 times the amount of vitamins as what’s present in the juice of the fruit.
WHEN IS ZEST IN SEASON?
Zest can be dried, refrigerated and frozen for long periods of time so is available year-round.
HOW SHOULD ZEST BE STORED?
Once removed from the fruit you can refrigerate zest for up to 2 weeks. When freezing, make sure to use it in your recipe while still frozen so as not to lose any flavor.
HOW DOES ZEST OIL WORK?
It contains fragrant a.k.a. essential oils that are rich in scent and flavor. The brighter the color of the fruit, the more flavor and aroma will be present. This oils have an evaporation point below that of boiling water. So be careful about adding it too early when cooking a dish. Also popular in aromatherapy, be very careful in their use, especially if consumption is involved.