Can I freeze lemon zest?
Yes, you can freeze lemon zest.
It’s a great thing to do from both a perspective of economy and culinary prowess.
At least two chefs I've interviewed for my day job in recent years recommend storing lemon zest as well as whole citrus fruits in the freezer.
Store lemon zest in a small container in the freezer for up to three months.
You could use a zip top freezer bag, a small mason jar or a plastic container like this one.
How to Freeze Lemon Zest
You remove zest by cutting or scraping it away with a knife, a vegetable peeler or the best tool of all for this job, a Microplane.
You can remove all of the zest without getting the bitter pith, unless you’re not paying attention and you keep grating until you hit fruit.
After you've removed all the zest, package it in an airtight container or a small mason jar or a plastic freezer-safe bag.
Mark the bag with the date and the words "lemon zest." You'd be amazed at what you forget.
Then put the container in the freezer where you'll see it and remember to use it regularly.
Tips for Using a Microplane
- Rinse and scrub the Microplane in hot, soapy water the nanosecond you're done using it. Otherwise, the zest sticks and dries to the grater and it's impossible to get clean.
- Mind your fingers, a Microplane is safer to use than knife to remove peel but you can still accidentally grate your flesh.
- Put a piece of wax paper on top of the cutting board or countertop to catch the lemon zest. That way you can just wrap up the wax paper containing the zest and put it an airtight, freezer container for a bit of added protection.
What is zest exactly?
The peel on a citrus fruit is made up of two parts: the flavedo or zest, which is the colored part of the fruit and the pith, which is the white and bitter part of the citrus peel.
How Should I Store Lemon Zest for the Freezer?
You want to wrap it up in say like the Ziploc or freezer safe paper around it and then put it in another container or freezer safe container so it stays nice and fresh
A chef that I knew once always had someone on his staff grate all of the lemons and limes and tuck all the zest away in the freezer as soon as they got a delivery.
And then they would have the citrus fruit right in the fridge for juicing. This was a restaurant so they use a fair amount of citrus juice.
But if you weren't gonna use all that citrus juice, you could also either squeeze the fruit and freeze the juice or you could freeze the whole fruit.
I interviewed a cookbook author who lives in Maine and she just puts her lemons and limes in the freezer as soon as she gets home from the grocery store.
That way, they don't go to waste. And it's a citrus fruit so how long will it take to de-thaw? Not very.
Store lemon zest, even just overnight, in the freezer. If you leave lemon zest at room temperature, the zest will start to lose its oils and dry out. It’s best to freeze zest and pull it out of the freezer a few minutes before you need to add it to your recipe.
Note: don’t freeze lemon zest that you want to use as a garnish because it starts to lose its bright yellow color once frozen.