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Essentials: How to Use a Zester

As you have probably guessed, I have a little bit of an addiction to countertop appliances, gadgets and pretty much anything else that can be used in a kitchen. I actually purchased a membership to Amazon Prime in order to feed this addiction and in turn justify my purchases with free shipping.

I get a bunch of emails from readers asking for specific product recommendations for everything from toasters and ice cream scoops to major appliances like stoves and dishwashers. Although my kitchen is well-equipped, I am certainly not the end all be all in this arena. However, I thought is would be fun to introduce a new series to My Baking Addiction called Essentials. Basically, I will feature many of the products that I use daily in my kitchen.

For the first Essentials post, I thought I would introduce you to a zester also referred to in the culinary world as a Microplane or a rasp. A zester is essentially a tool that allows you to remove the zest from citrus. It also comes in handy for a variety of other uses which makes it multifunctional. In my opinion, there is no better way to remove the zest from citrus fruits while leaving behind the bitter pith. If you don’t have a zester, I suggest you pick one up because it is definitely an essential item for your kitchen gadget collection.

Ways to Use a Zester

Remove the Zest from Citrus Fruits: Gently run the citrus fruit along the zester to remove fine shreds of the zest. Be careful not to remove any of the white pith, that’s the bitter part of the fruit and will certainly impart a bitter taste to your recipe.
Grate Whole Spices: Carefully rub whole spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom along the zester to create  freshly ground spices. Freshly ground spices are much more intense than the ground spices you purchase at the market, so practice a bit of restraint and be sure to taste as you go.
Grating Fresh Ginger: If you love homemade Asian food as much I do, you have probably been faced with the task of mincing fresh ginger. This is not my idea of a good time and can be a little labor intensive when minced the traditional way. Once you peel a piece of fresh ginger, simply rub it across your zester and you’ll end up with beautifully minced ginger in no time flat.
Mincing Fresh Garlic: I love me some garlic, but there is nothing I hate more than chomping into a giant piece that was not adequately minced before being added into a recipe. If you use a zester to grate your garlic, you’ll be left with a glorious garlic paste that can easily be incorporated to your favorite dishes and no fancy knife skills are required!
Grating Hard Cheeses: It’s easy to quickly grate hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano onto your favorite pastas and salads. Rub a piece of cheese over the zester and like magic, you’ll have finely grated cheese that melts like a dream.
Chocolate Shavings: Looking to jazz up your desserts, but no time to make fancy chocolate curls? Simply run your favorite chocolate over the zester to create chocolate shavings.