The Suprising Trick That Makes Zesting Lemons So Much Easier

Learn this tip, then make some no-bake cheesecake parfaits.

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Has anyone else noticed that recipes never tell you how to zest lemons (or limes)? They typically just ask you to zest, and leave you to figure out the best way to do it.

But in culinary school, I learned that zesting is a technique, just like chopping, and there’s a lot that can go right or wrong. For starters, it’s important to use a sharp rasp grater (like a Microplane) to remove as much zest as possible. But make sure you stop zesting when you get to the white pith underneath the peel: it adds no additional flavor, only undesirable bitterness.

You very well might already know the aforementioned zesting tips. But I bet you haven’t heard of the following technique from chef Kelly Senyei. Typically, when people zest, they hold the rasp grater in one hand and rub the lemon on top of the blades. The zest falls out below the rasp into your bowl or onto your cutting board. But during Kelly’s Easy No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits class on the Food Network Kitchen app, Kelly holds the lemon in the palm of her hand and runs the rasp over the lemon.

"I like to do it with my zester facing upwards so I can see how much I’m zesting," Kelly explains.

As Kelly continues working the rasp over the lemon, she can see the skin she’s taking off as she’s zesting so she doesn’t accidentally remove some bitter pith, too. Plus, all of the zest gathers on top of the zester, so she can eyeball the amount she has and neatly dump it into the bowl when she’s done.

Is anyone else’s mind blown? This will totally change the way I zest in the future. Now enough about zesting; it’s about time to make some no-bake cheesecake parfaits. All you need is twenty minutes to whip up a lush and tangy dessert, no oven necessary.

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