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Freezing Citrus Zest

Feb 20, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose

Lemon zest, the colored portion of citrus peel, freezes well after zesting. But my step-daughter Beth, who is an architect, came up with this great idea for zesting citrus peel after the fruit is juiced.

Many recipes call for freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice. But after the fruit is juiced, the remaining outer portion of the fruit becomes too limp to grate into zest. If you freeze it until you are ready to use it, it is rigid enough to allow it to be grated with ease. So if you didn't think of grating the fruit's outer peel while it was still whole, this is a terrific method.


As a chef, I have used lemon zest/lemon juice for many years in this way: when I need only a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc. of juice, I poke a hole in the lemon or lime using a bamboo skewer or something similar, and the resulting hole is enough to squeeze out the tablespoon, etc. of juice I need, then I freeze it. When I need more juice, I take the fruit out and microwave for a few seconds which loosens the juice, I again squeeze out what I need and refreeze the fruit. It's easier to zest the whole fruit. Sometimes I zest the whole fruit, then bag and freeze it to use its juice at a later time. of course, if I need large amounts of juice then I juice the whole fruit after zesting. So first zest, then juice and freeze the zest if need be. This way, you never waste one drop of juice and always have ready zest in the freezer.


fabulous suggestion susana. hugs back!


Rose: thanks a lot for share your knowlegments and love for pastry. (I have your "cake bible") I'm from Quito-Ecuador, South America and I'm pastry-artisan. I learn from a great teacher the next tip:

mix the lemon, orange and another citric zest with sugar, put in a glass in the refigerator and use when you need, really works!

Sweet hugs from the middle of the world!!!!


I'm from Uk and I love this blog! What a useful tip, I use loads of lemons and have been throwing away the used halves but never again.


I've been doing this for about a year - I think I read it on the discussion forum, but maybe it was somewhere else. Anyway, it works perfectly. No more feeling guilty when I throw away squeezed lemon or lime halves. I just store them in a freezer container and pull them out whenever I need some zest.


This is most useful. I love citrus and have been discarding the lemons.

A really useful tip. Thanks Rose and Beth!


Great Idea! So simple...one of those moments that makes you go "Of course!"


thank you for the useful information!


Interesting, I usually just zest the lemons before I juice them and then freeze the zest. I wonder if it tastes better to freeze the whole peel and zest later?



Funny you posted this tip. My 8 year old daughter and I just juiced 2 dozen lemons (they were on sale). We weighed out individual portions for your lemon curd recipe in TCB and froze them. With the empty shells I placed them on a cookie sheet and froze them in a single layer. When they were completely frozen I vaccum sealed them with my food saver. I made the bags extra long so that when I had to use a portion of the lemons I could re-seal the bag.


I have always used this method to store lemon zest but was surprised when telling others on the forum some time ago that they thought it was a novel idea! If the juice has already been taken from the lemon it seems so easy to pop the empty shells into the freezer, then when needed they can be zested so easily, much easier than when fresh, it takes far less time. I can't see the point in zesting before freezing, so messy and fiddly.



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