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See the delicious treasures of the citrus peel; Here's how to get the best of them.
Most people buy citrus to eat the fruit or juice and then throw away the peels, but there are many things in those peels that would be a shame to waste; namely.
The zest of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and all their cousins is made up of the colorful part of the peel: it is the place where the aromatic oils of the fruit live and it is heaven on Earth. While the white part of the rind, the pith, is bitter, the colorful layer above has all the depth of citrus flavor. Juice and meat may have the bright acid and edible fruit, which of course is what they are famous for, but the rich, fruity and floral flavor of the zest is one of the best cooking ingredients.
The rind can be used almost anywhere to impart its flavor: from salads, hummus, pastas and compound butters to cookie dough, pancakes, ice cream and cake batter. And really, almost anywhere else. It's my favorite ingredient for the best salad dressing and the secret to success for my guacamole and buttercream. And if you already use citrus, it's free!
WHEN TO GRADE
The best approach I can come up with is to grate a whole fruit just before eating or juicing it as it is easier to grate. The zest can be used or stored using one of the methods below.
HOW TO GRADE IT
The most important part is to remove only the colorful part and avoid the bitter pith. There are several tools that you can use to obtain different results. I made a quick list. (Note the folding box grater (which fits in a drawer), one of the best inventions in the kitchen.
TYPES OF SCRATCHING
For those times when you want the zest texture to disappear, the finest grid is best, such as with a microplane. I almost always use this method because it seems to release more flavor. To use as a delicious garnish, the little curls from a grater are good, perfect for topping cookies or cupcakes. For cocktails, the vegetable peeler or knife makes a more substantial garnish. While I have acquired all of these tools over the years, one could get pretty similar results with a sharp knife and some knife skills.
HOW TO STORE IT
If you're not going to use your enthusiasm right away, it will last until you need it. Grating directly onto food or into a storage container ensures that all that nice aromatic oil doesn't end up on the cutting board.
Refrigerate- To use in a couple of days, just store in the refrigerator.
Freeze: freeze the zest for up to six months; This is an excellent source for a sprinkle here and there. Thawing is not required.
Dry: Make the zest or twists and allow to dry, about three to four days for the kinks, less for the zest. Store in an airtight container.
Prepare the powdered extract- Dry as before then pulverize into powder in a blender or spice grinder. This can be added to spice mixes (like lemon pepper) or delicious citrus sugar.
Make citric olive oil: pound the zest or strips into a mortar and pestle with a little oil added. Place in a jar with more oil and let it rest for six hours. Strain into a clean jar.
Caramel shells: sugar and citrus are one of the best associations in the food world. You can make an orange peel candy for the French confection known as "orangette," you can make a lemon strip candy for sweet decorations (or just eat it straight), and you can even make whole kumquats.