Well, we really should have mentioned this at the beginning of citrus season, in early winter, but we didn’t even think of it. Before you peel that orange, lemon, or lime, take an extra moment and zest it!
By zesting and freezing the zest, you’ll get much more out of your fruit dollars. The zest freezes very well, and it will make life easier the next time a muffin recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh orange zest or a when a little lemon zest would really brighten up that pasta!
There are two ways to freeze zest – first, you can put a teaspoon or so into ice cube trays, fill with water, freeze, and then bag the cubes. When you’re ready to use the zest, just defrost or run a bit of warm water over the cube and the zest is recipe-ready!
Alternatively, you can simply use a microplane and zest right into a Ziploc bag (use a different one for lemons, limes, etc. of course) and freeze it this way, adding to it as you have zest. With this method you do run the risk of the color oxidizing slightly freezer burn, but it hardly impacts the flavor of the frozen zest, which remains remarkably fresh and intact. The preservation of flavor is likely due to the fact that the XX of the rind comes from its oils, so they will hold nicely for months in freezer, but do try to use them up in three or so.
Once you’ve zested a fruit, it will still hold a few more days just fine until it’s time for a lunchbox. On the other hand, if you bought that lemon or lime solely for the zest in a recipe, not to worry, simple squeeze-and-freeze! Pour the lemon juice in an ice cube tray and use in lemonade this summer or use blood orange juice in a smoothie or dessert.
Now that you know, you’ll get twice as much out of every citrus fruit you buy!