Cooking Basics: How to Zest a Lemon
I’m right handed, so I hold the microplane in my left hand and the lemon in my right. Brush the lemon over the microplane from the top of the lemon to the bottom. Use a gentle rocking motion, taking off just the top layer of skin. Rotate the lemon between each stroke so you get new surface area every time until you’ve gone all the way around the lemon.
The other way is to use a traditional zester, as in the picture above. This tool has a short handle that fits snugly in your hand with a metal head perforated by a row of holes.
To use a zester, I would hold the tool in my right hand and the lemon in my left. Gently scrape the holes of the zester along the surface of the lemon from top to bottom, removing a long ribbon of zest. Rotate the lemon and repeat. You can leave the zest in long ribbons or chop them into small pieces.
Whichever method you use, the key idea is to only remove the very top layer of skin and as little as possible of the spongy white pith lying just beneath. All of the aromatic and tasty oils reside in that top layer, while the pith starts to get pretty bitter.
Is this how you zest lemons, or do you have another way?