This is all about maximizing as much of your produce as you possibly can, specifically your citrus, in this instance. The esteemed Kalyn of kalynskitchen did a great post not too long ago about freezing your lemon and lime juice in order to make sure you always have the real thing on hand. This is almost the flip side of it: preserving the zest from any lemon, lime, orange, or any other piece of citrus you might have.
You could use a traditional zester:
Or a snazzy microplane:
Zest is absolutely packed with flavor, as it contains the aromatic oils of the fruit. Donna just made excellent use of zest in her fajita marinade, for example. We used it in our Grapefruit Gelato. I recommend adding a touch to the Cranberry Pecan Lilybars. It’s great paired with berries, it can perk up a stew, add pop to a salad, than there’s sorbet, marmalade, limoncello, the sky’s the limit, really.
Just about anywhere you use citrus juice, you can throw in a bit of zest and it amps up the flavor considerably. But if you don’t use ALL the zest, it’s a shame to let all that bright shiny flavor go to waste! And yes, you CAN freeze zest! Of course it is always best when fresh, ideally zested immediately before using, but freezing is definitely functional here, certainly better than tossing it out – especially when you’ve got something fleeting like Meyer lemons on hand.
My recommendation is simple and twofold: first, make sure to use good quality heavy-duty ziploc freezer bags, and get all the air out. Second, I would opt to use the traditional zester for this task over the microplane, since the increased surface area created by the microplane will make the zest a bit more vulnerable to oil dissipation or freezer burn. If you only have a microplane, it’s still worth freezing, but do it the slightly more old-fashioned way for best results if you can.
So there you have it. If you only need the zest for a recipe, follow Kalyn’s tip and freeze the juice, and if you only need the juice, always make sure you save the zest!
— posted by Anne