Gadget Tree: Put Some Zest in Your Life!


Frances asks: “What’s the best way to zest citrus fruits? I have a vegetable peeler, but that doesn’t work so well…”

Well, first let’s define a few terms…

Zest is the shiny, textured outermost part of a citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime, or orange, and it is packed with intense aromatic oils. Zest adds flavor and brightness to food.

Beneath the zest/peel is the white pith, the fibrous membrane that protects the fruit inside. The pith is very bitter, so if you must use a vegetable peeler, make sure you avoid the white pith or scrape it off the zest.

But I have a much, much better idea. My good friends at Edgeware® sent me their Better Zester™ to test. I guess that makes mama a “zester-tester”…(rim-shot, please! Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week…) Ok, ok…no more jokes.

The truth is it should be called “The Best Zester In The World.” Here’s why:

• 300 sharp little v-shaped teeth that quickly strip the zest from the citrus leaving the bitter pith behind.

• A non-stick coating so food doesn’t stick.

• A built-in storage container (with measuring cup!) so the zest stays in one place and you’re not trying to scrape it up off the cutting board or into a measuring spoon to see how much you’ve got.

• A built-in “squeegee” to easily remove the zest from the back of the blade.

• An ergonomic shape with a non-slip tip and a protective storage cover.

Three words: I LOVE IT. The little clouds of zest are just… ethereally beautiful.

You can also use it with ginger, nutmeg and garlic… and hard cheeses like Parmesan (you’ll have to remove the storage container/measuring cup first if you’re grating a lot of cheese).

You can put this in the dishwasher, but like my knives, I hand wash it to make sure it stays sharp and working to perfection.

And, trust me, this little tool is just about perfect!


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Extra Helpings: Freezing Lemons?


Vonna asks: I recently read on the Internet that you can freeze a lemon and when you need it, take it out of the freezer and grate it… skin, seeds and all. No waste! Does this work? Can I use the grater on my food processor to do the same thing?

I’d never heard of this, Vonna, so I headed to the kitchen to test.

1. Yes, this does “work,” and you can grate the frozen lemon in your food processor.

2. Don’t waste your time or your lemons. You aren’t going to find the tart, bright taste you desire. Instead, you’ll find bitterness and an unpleasant aftertaste… like how the losing candidate is going to feel on November 7.

The problem with the freezing/grating method is that you end up eating the entire lemon… including seeds and white pith. The white pith is what contributes to the bitterness.

Have you ever “zested” a lemon? The outside yellow layer of the lemon, the zest, contains all of the fragrant oils. When you zest, you are supposed to remove only that layer and not any of the white pith underneath.

Unless they’re using a lemon sliced or halved as a garnish, restaurants usually zest whole lemons first and squeeze out the remaining juice, tossing out the leftover white pith. (Good to know: It’s pretty hard to zest a lemon when it is already halved.)

Lemon juice and zest can be frozen… but I’ll explain that (and how to zest) in the next Extra Helpings post.

Here are a few more lemon tips:

• Wrap uncut zested lemons in plastic wrap and refrigerate. They’ll keep for about a week.

• To get the most juice out of a lemon (zested or unzested), bring it to room temperature and roll it under your palm to soften the fruit and get the juices moving.

• If you don’t have citrus juicer or reamer, cut the lemon in half and twist the tines of a fork into the lemon.

Bonus Bonanza: Besides being a flavor enhancer, lemon juice added to water can be an appetite suppresser. Plus, lemons are  loaded with vitamin C, the antioxidant that helps fight heart disease, cancer and inflammation.

So grab a lemon… and start squeezing… not freezing!


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: