How to zest a lime? I mean, compared to a lemon or an orange, a lime is quite small, right? Yup, a lime is small, but it's not impossible to zest! Once you've learned how to do it properly, you'll know it's not a scary task at all. And don't underestimate the power of lime zest. It might not be as popular as lemon zest, but it's packed full of flavor!
Best Way to Zest a Lime
Although lemon and lime zest are often interchangeable, lime zest has that unique tang and freshness I love! Somehow, lime is just more… citrusy! Probably because lemon lays on the sweeter side and lime is sourer (in a good way).
What Does it Mean to Zest a Lime?
To zest a lime means to remove the outermost green layer where the fragrant and flavorful citrus oil resides. This part is lime-y and tangy, bright, fresh, and sweet all simultaneously! And with a floral and citrus aroma, the zest is so full of flavors you really don't want to waste any of it.
What Can You Use to Zest Lime?
You can zest any citrus fruits using gadgets available in your kitchen. Zester, grater, even peeler, and knife, you name it! And lime is no exception. I'll go into more detail on how to zest a lime using all of those gadgets later, but here are several rules you should follow before you start zesting.
- WASH - Make sure you rinse your lime, so it's clean. You don't want any dirt in your lime zest. Then, pat dry your lime with a paper towel or tea towel.
- CUT - Don't cut your lime open before zesting it. It's much safer and easier to zest a whole lime than a halved or wedged lime.
- BE GENTLE - Don't go too deep when zesting a lime. The zest is only at the outermost part of the lime, the vibrant green part. Go deeper, past the bright, flavorful zest layer, and you'll get the white, bitter pith.
How do you Zest a Lime With a Zester?
A lime zester is a great gadget to have in your kitchen. It's specifically made to zest any citrus, including lime, with the zest coming out as tiny ribbons. Perfect for decorating your cakes, pies, and drinks.
A citrus zester has 4-6 tiny holes at the end. The holes are quite sharp, so be careful. To zest, hold the lime in your non-dominant hand and the zester in your dominant hand. Starting at the top of the lime, press the holes to the skin, and pull the zester across the fruit. If you want finer zest, chop or mince the zest ribbons to the size you desire.
Keep reading below for the answers to the all-important question: How do you zest a lime without a zester?
Can I Zest With a Knife?
Can you really zest a lime with a knife?! Sure! And I'll teach you how to do it. It's not the easiest method, though. But it's truly a good skill to have.
To begin, carefully cut the lime skin with a downward stroke very close to the outside. Leave the white pith as much as you can. Repeat until the whole lime is peeled. Make sure your lime peels don't have any white pith left on them. Don't worry; you don't need to throw the peels away if they're not clean enough. With a small paring knife, simply trim off the pith. Once your peels are pith-free, lay them flat on your cutting board, then chop or mince them as fine as you want.
What is a paring knife?
A paring knife is a small, plain-edged, all-purpose kitchen knife. It is ideal for cooking tasks such as slicing garlic cloves, chopping up fruit, cutting out shapes in pies, scrapping seeds from a vanilla pod, or cutting up lime peel!
Can I Zest With a Peeler?
Zesting a lime with a peeler is easier to handle and safer than using a knife. To zest with a peeler, peel the outermost rim of the lime. Use a light hand so you don't include too much pith in your strips of peel. Make sure there's no pith left on your lime peels by removing any with a small paring knife. Then, finely cut into thin strips or chop the peel into small pieces.
Can you Use a Grater as a Zester?
How to Zest a Lime with a Microplane Grater
A microplane grater is one of the most effective and efficient tools to zest your lime. Your grated lime zest will come out perfect every time!
Hold the grater in your dominant hand with the sharp blades facing down. Hold the lime in your non-dominant hand. Position the lime under the grater, then gently and carefully grate the lime by pulling the zester with long strokes toward you. Scrape off just the green part and turn the lime as you go. Immediately stop grating the same area when you see it turning white-ish. Tap your grater on a clean bowl to release the delicious zest.
How to Zest a Lime - Can you Zest a Lime With a Cheese Grater?
You can also use a cheese grater, or known as a box grater, to zest a lime. Place the box grater on a clean, flat surface (cutting board or plate). Firmly hold the grater to stabilize. Then carefully grate the lime with a vertical motion on the finest blades. Rotate the lime as you go. Lightly tap the box grater after you finish grating, so the good stuff that might be stuck between the blades doesn't end up in your sink.
What Side of the Grater is for Zesting?
A box grater has four sides with varying sizes and shapes of holes for different purposes.
|1.||Ultra-fine||Tiny star-like holes for ultra-fine zesting||Lime, lemon, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg.|
|2.||Small||Small shredding holes for grating||Cheese such as Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. Chocolate for desserts. Vegetables when a finer texture is needed.|
|3.||Large||Large shredding holes for grating||Semi-hard cheese such as Cheddar, Gruyère, and Fontina. Vegetables and fruit such as carrots, zucchini, onions, and apples.|
|4.||Slices||Mandolin style for slicing||Shavings of cheese such as Pecorino. Slicing vegetables such as potatoes or cucumber.|
Lime Zest Recipes
Lime Zest Uses in Food
Use lime zest in everything… and I mean, everything! Lime zest is great for adding a unique citrusy note to your dish, savory or sweet! Sprinkle the zest on your lime pie, or any sweet pies such as apple cobbler, or in baked goods such as oatmeal cookies and banana muffins. Add it to your vinaigrette, marinades, or mayonnaise to level up the brightness. Or add some zing to your guacamole or hummus. Maybe jazz up your fish and chips with a touch of lime zest. Add some freshness to your yogurt-based samosa dipping sauce. Lime zest on pasta? Why not? And, I'm sorry, my Italian friends, but adding a small pinch of lime zest to pesto sauce is so my thing. For drinks, I love lime zest in my tea-based and ginger-based drinks. Go for zest; it's great on anything, I swear! Learn how to zest a lime today!
Lime Zest Uses in Drinks
Lime Zest Tea
Now that you've learned how to zest a lime, I'm going to tell you how to make a refreshing and energizing lime zest tea.
If your everyday tea is a basic black tea, you can add some lime zest to amp up the flavor. The lime zest will introduce a layer of complexity while letting the taste of your fine tea shine through.
To make tea with lime zest, add 1 tablespoon of black tea leaves, ½ teaspoon of zest and boiling water into a teapot. Leave it to infuse for 5 minutes. Strain and serve. Add one teaspoon of honey if you would like to add some sweetness. Add a slice of lime for garnish.
How to Peel a Lime Twist?
Many classic drinks feature lime, either with juice, zest, or a piece of peel twisted over to express the lime oils into the drink. One of my favorite drinks is the Gin Gimlet. This perfectly balanced cocktail features gin, lime juice, and soda with a lime twist.
Here are the steps for how to make a lime garnish to enhance the flavor of your cocktail:
- Firstly, wash the outer skin of the lime. Wipe dry.
- Place the lime on a cutting board and slice it into rings.
- Place one of the slices flat on the board and cut halfway through the diameter.
- Use a paring knife to separate the peel from the citrus pulp of the slice. Leave a little bit of the white pith intact to help the lime rind keep its shape when you twist it. You want to end up with a long, thin strip of lime peel.
- Twist the lime peel around a chopstick to give a spiral of peel.
- You've now got a lime twist that will add an aromatic garnish to your drink!
Storing - How to Zest a Lime
I always zest my lime before I squeeze the juice out, even though I might not use it immediately. If you want, you can then freeze the lime zest. Lime zest can be stored for up to 6 months in the freezer, though the flavor will start to fade a little after a few weeks. To freeze, put your lime zest in an air-tight container or plastic bag.
I also like to store lime zest by putting some zest in the portions of an ice cube tray. Fill up the tray with the juice of the lime, and you've got lime zest readily available for use in baking or cooking.
How to Dry Lime Zest
Oven - Place the lime zest on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, check and move the zest around on the tray, and put back in the oven until crisp and dry. Store the dried lime zest in an airtight container.
Microwave - Place the lime zest on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high, in 30-second increments, until dry.
Air Dry - Place the lime zest on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Spread the zest out evenly. Leave the plate on your kitchen bench, and move the zest around every day to ensure that it dries out evenly.
How to Zest a Lime - Substitute for Lime Zest
Lime Zest Vs Lemon Zest
- Lime zest vs lemon zest - In many recipes, lime zest is interchangeable with other citrus zest. But if you really want that unique lime taste, instead of 1 teaspoon of lime zest you can use ½ teaspoon of lime extract or two teaspoons of lime juice. It might not be exactly the same, but sometimes you have to improvise.
- Can I use lime zest instead of lemon zest? You can use lime zest instead of lemon zest, but it will give you a different flavor profile - lime zest is tangier and sourer than lemon zest.
- How does lime rind and lemon zest differ? - Lime rind consists of the zest, the green outermost part of the lime, and the pith, the white inner part. The zest of a lemon or lime is part of the rind but is only the outermost part that is bright, fragrant, and full of flavor.
- How do you get lemon zest if you don't have a grater? and What are some tips for zesting a lemon? - Read my article for all the tips and tricks for how to zest a lemon without a grater.
- Can you zest an orange without a zester? - Do you love orange zest? Read my how to zest an orange article for the steps for zesting an orange without a zester.
How to Zest a Lime FAQs
What is Lime Zest - Is the Zest of a Lime the Skin?
Lime zest is the outermost rind part of the lime. It's that thin, green layer found on every lime skin. The underside of the green lime skin is the white part called the pith. Lime pith is bitter, so don't go too deep into the lime when using the zester.
The green layer that you zest is the best part of the lime, and is where the flavorful and fragrant citrus oil is.
Is Lime Peel the Same as Lime Zest?
Lime zest is part of the lime peel. You see, the lime peel is the whole lime skin. It's the green layer plus the white layer. The green layer is called zest. The white layer, called pith, is bitter and unpleasant for most people. Lime peel is sometimes used in dishes that require a very long cooking time. The reason for this is that the long cooking time breaks down the bitterness of the pith. So, for freshness in your dishes, go for the zest and the zest only!
How to Zest a Lime - Is Grating the Same as Zesting?
Grating and zesting both make a slightly different version of zest. Using a zester produces fine ribbons of zest, while a grater on the tiny star-like holes makes fine zest and the small holes make larger and shorter strands of zest.
What Does Zest of One Lime Mean?
If you zest your lime properly (making the most of the green part while leaving the pith), 1 medium-sized lime is approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons of lime zest. Packed with flavor, you really don't need much! 1 teaspoon of lime zest is enough to make your simple dish amazing!
How to Zest a Lime - Can you Buy Lime Zest?
Store-bought lime zest is not as common as lemon zest. Even if you manage to find it, it's usually dried and packaged. Sure, go for it if you want the convenience, but fresh lime zest is far superior in terms of flavor and aroma.
How to Zest a Lime - What is Key Lime Zest?
- What is key lime zest? - Key limes are a type of lime that are small and have a light yellow thin skin when ripe. They are tarter and more aromatic than regular limes. The zest of key limes is the outer yellow section of the lime and adds a strong tangy citrus flavor to recipes such as key lime pie.
- Key lime zest vs lime zest - You can zest a key lime by following the instructions above in this 'How to zest a lime' article.
- What is a key lime zest substitute? - The best substitute for key lime zest is regular lime zest. Both will give your dish a citrusy and fresh taste.
How to Zest a Lime - Summary of What do you Use to Zest a Lime?
- How do you zest a lime with a zester? Hold the lime in one hand and the zester in the other. Press the zester, with the tiny holes facing downwards, and pull it across the skin of the lime.
- What can I use instead of a zester? You can use a vegetable peeler, grater, or knife instead of a zester.
- Can you use grater to zest? Yes, you can use a fine grater to zest a lime. Use either a microplane grater or the finest blades on the box grater.
- How do you zest limes without a grater? Use a zester, knife, or peeler to zest your lime if you don't have a grater.
- Can I zest with a peeler? I like using a peeler to zest a lime as it is safe and easy to use.
- How do you manually zest? Follow my instructions above in this 'How to zest a lime' article for the four manual ways to zest a lime - with a zester, knife, peeler, or grater.
How to Zest a Lime
- 1 Lime
- Zester- Hold the lime in one hand and the zester in your other hand. - Press the holes of the zester to the skin at the top of the lime. - Pull the zester down across the lime.
- Knife- Hold the lime in your less dominant hand and the knife in your dominant hand. - Move the knife in a downward stroke from the top to the bottom of the lime.- Place the lime peel strip on a chopping board and remove any white pith. - Dice the lime peels as finely as you desire.
- Peeler- Hold the lime in one hand and the peeler in your other hand. - Press the peeler to the skin of the lime and move it across the skin. - Place the peel on a cutting board and remove any white pith if necessary.- Chop the lime peel as finely as needed to make lime zest.
- GraterMicroplane Grater- Hold the microplane grater in your dominant hand with the blades facing downwards. Hold the lime in your other hand.- Put the lime under the grater and move the zester towards you with long strokes. Turn the lime when the area you are grating turns whiteish. - Tap the grater on a bowl to release the lime zest from the blades. Box Grater- Place the grater on a flat surface and move the lime over the finest blades in a vertical motion. - Turn the lime as you go and grate off the green part only. - Tap the grater on a clean bowl to release the lime zest from the fine blades.
How to Zest a Lime - Conclusion
So, now that you know how to zest a lime, there's just no excuse not to start zesting today!