What is a Citrus Zester?
Also simply called a Lemon Zester, the Citrus Zester is a utensil that enables you to extract the “flavedo” (outer rind) from citrus fruits, in order to add flavour or garnish to your food or drink. The term “Citrus Zester” actually applies to two tools that perform the same function, but in a different way.
The first of these tools is called a Microplane. It often has a handle, but sometimes does not, and has a long stainless steel piece that looks like a woodworking rasp, except that it is narrower and the holes are finer.
The second tool is simply referred to as a Zester. It generally consists of a handle (which can be steel or plastic) and a square or semi-circle of steel at one end that has a row of bladed holes.
Both types can come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes, depending on who makes them, but the blade is always stainless steel and the handle can be either plastic or stainless steel.
The hole sizes of each style can also vary, offering the user zest that can be anywhere between chunky to thread-like.
The History of the Microplane
It isn’t clear where and when the zester was invented, but the microplane is proof that necessity is the mother of invention. The microplane began life as a woodworker’s tool.
In 1967, the Grace family opened Grace Manufacturing Inc., a business that specialized in making components for computer printers. When the nature of computer printers started to change in the 1990’s, the company had to think outside the box to come up with a more sustainable product. So, they began using their photo-etching technology to create woodworking rasps with sharp teeth.
It was entirely a stroke of luck that, in 1994, a Canadian housewife happened to be struggling to produce zest for an orange cake that she was making. Her grater was tearing and shredding the orange, leaving her with a tattered mess. Out of frustration, she began to use her husband’s woodworking rasp and found that it slid easily through the orange rind and left her with perfect zest.
Not long after, a Toronto-based woodworking catalogue began marketing the wood rasp produced by Grace Manufacturing Inc. as a kitchen tool.
By the late 1990’s, this wood-rasp-turned-kitchen-tool found its way into the hands of celebrity chefs like Julia Child and Martha Stewart, causing the demand for the microplane to take off.
This microplane-style citrus zester is crafted of stainless steel, with a durable plastic handle and top roll bar. The teeth are razor sharp, leaving you with perfect zest every time. The blade head is set at a 15° angle, making it ergonomic. This set not only comes with the microplane, but also a hook for hanging up your microplane, a multi-use cheesecloth, a scraper for removing zest from the microplane, and a brush to safely clear out the holes. This microplane has a roll bar at the top to allow you to brace it against your cutting board and move it back and forth without friction.
This microplane has a razor sharp stainless steel blade that will never rust, with a comfortable non-slip handle for ease of use. The curved sides of the blade allow extra rigidity, so that you can apply more force when you have harder ingredients, but the sharpness of the blades mean you will actually need very little pressure. Its teeth do not get clogged, so its easier to clean than many other microplanes.
Best Lemon Zesters
This zester is a 2-in-1 tool that creates both citrus zest and garnish. It features a broad plastic handle that fits the hand nicely and has ridges on the side to prevent slipping. The blade head is made of stainless steel, with a row of zesting blades as well as single channel knife for creating garnishes. The blades are extremely sharp, making your zesting and garnishing virtually effortless.
This lemon zester is constructed of stainless steel throughout its entire body. The blade head offers a row of sharp zesting blades and a channel knife that make creating zest and garnishes an easy job. The handle is a smooth cylinder of stainless steel that fits the hand comfortably without being too bulky. At the end of the handle is a loop that allows you to hang this zester up when you are not using it.