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Out of the Frying Pan

profile by Suzanne Link

Citrus Zester ($6 and up)

For several years, I thought that fresh citrus zest and dried citrus peel were basically the same thing, or at least interchangeable. I would blow off recipes that called for lime zest because I could never find lime peel in the bulk section at the grocery store.

One day, in the midst of cooking, my best friend suggested that I try her citrus zester. "No, I brought orange peel," I said. She grabbed an orange and kind of shook her zester in my face. "No you need to use my zester." She had a semi-crazed look in her eyes, so, at her insistence I used the zester.

As usual, she was right on the money.. "You see! It has a more intense flavor!" I nodded and agreed. The citrus skin, I discovered, contains concentrated oil that is remarkably flavorful, as well as very colorful. I was onboard with the citrus zester.

A citrus zester is simply a 4- or 5- holed stainless steel edge secured to a handle. Just pull the zester across the desired citrus, pressing firmly, and tiny strips of peel are produced. Take care not to press so hard that the white layer underneath, the pith, is removed. The pith is very bitter and should not be used unless the recipe calls for it. Also, be sure to zest your fruits prior to juicing or cutting it. After peeling, the peel is still usable, but the task is messier and more time consuming.

You should be able to zest an entire piece of fruit in less than a minute. Any extra zest can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. It's nice to have on hand when you need a small amount, so go ahead and zest fruits whether you need the peel immediately or not.

You can find a zester for about $6 - $8 at most grocery or housewares stores. It may seem pricey since it has only one function. But, I assure you, it performs that function better and faster than any other utensil you've got. So splurge a little and start adding some zest to your cooking.

shown: citrus zester in action, $8.50 from Williams-Sonoma.

also: the Oxo Good Grips Zester, $6.50 from

More Gadgets:

Charcoal Chimney

Citrus Zester

Lemon Reamer

Oil Can

Pepper Grinder

Silicone spatula


Zyliss garlic press


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