drying lemon zest for the spice cabinet

fresh lemon with my zyliss lemon zester

i’m a big fan of citrus and i use lemon zest to season and flavor so many foods, at this point it’s a main staple in my kitchen. i particularly like this zester from zyliss, since it’s super sharp and creates citrus zest in 2 sizes. lately i’ve been using lots of lemons, and usually i just reserve the zest in the fridge for use that week, but since i’d never go through this amount quickly, i thought i’d dry them out for use as a seasoning.

lemon zester in action

to zest a lemon, or other type of citrus, hold the zester firmly against the fruit and scrape down the side, pressurizing your grip with your thumb as i am above. despite my balancing act in the photo, this is usually done with 2 hands so you can get the most zest from the fruit. i do this right over a cookie sheet so i can put it directly in the oven. note: if you want to make lemon salt, sprinkle a thin layer of salt on the cookie sheet and angle your zester down at the salt, so the oil from the citrus peel sprays the salt as you do the rinding. then give the sheet a good shimmy side-to-side so the salt coats some of the lemon zest before you set it to dry.

lemon zest ready for drying

when you’re done rinding, you’ll have a nice quantity of zest for drying. i put mine in the oven, allowing the heat from the pilot to do its work, which it does rather quickly. you can also air dry for a couple hours. lemon zest doesn’t need much applied heat, so i wouldn’t recommend heating the oven to dry it, if you don’t have a pilot light, just set it on the stove.

dried lemon zest

once the zest is dry, collect it in a jar and store in the pantry. here’s my collection so far, i’m thinking of making my own lemon pepper for the mill. note: if you’re making lemon salt, you’ll want to collect the salt and zest in a jar. you may have to rub spots on the cookie sheet where the lemon oil-soaked salt sticks to free it up. you can crush the lemon zest if you like, or leave it whole. this flavored salt is best dispensed in a mill rather than a shaker, and freshly ground on the spot.

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