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Walk into a room after someone has peeled an orange, and the fragrance is positively uplifting. This instant aroma comes from essential oils in the zest, the colored outer layer of citrus skin. Zest is the colored portion of the rind of the orange. It is not the underlying white, pith portion of the peel. The outer-most layer of the rind can be grated or thinly veneered with a tool called a zester, to produce orange zest. The grating action creates a pile of orange zest, which is usually left to dry overnight before being stored in airtight herb bottles. Zest is popular in cooking because it contains the oil glands and has a strong flavour similar to the fleshy inner part of the orange. Always grate the colored part of the rind and not the white pith underneath because it can be bitter.
How to Select
The most important thing to look for is one heavy for its size. Avoid large bruises, soft spots or shriveling, otherwise superficial marks or brownish patches. Zests of orange is also available in markets.
· A bit of zest can enhance the flavor of many foods.
· Zest can be used in almost any batter or dough of your favorite cakes, muffins, quick breads, or cookies.
· It is a sensational addition to stir-fry dishes, stews and soups.
· A little goes a long way, so experiment by adding a little at a time until you find the taste you like best.
· Create a citrus-flavored cream cheese by blending low-fat or fat-free cream cheese with grated orange zest, and add chopped dates. Or, make a tangy frozen shake with fat-free frozen yogurt, orange juice and grated orange peel.
· The rind can be thinly peeled or grated or chooped as called for by recipes, or added to provide colour and flavour to hot and cold drinks.
· Can be cut or left whole and eaten as a dessert fruit.
· It can be segmented or sliced and used as a garnish or added to drinks. Can be used to make marmalade and in preserves
· Candied Orange Rind or zest is a powerful and simple way to get flavor in your food.
· Use the rind in recipes calling for juice because the rind is so much more effective in transferring that citrus flavor.
How to Store
Store the rind in single tablespoon amounts in tiny plastic bags and then put those small bags into one larger, heavier bag to double seal them. The rind will keep good for 6 months, this way.