What Is It?
A zester. Specifically for citrus zesting.
How Does It Work?
Scrape it along the outside of a washed piece of citrus. The resulting zest can be used in a number of ways and recipes. Zest adds flavor without tartness. For example, use lemon zest to make lemon bars taste lemonier without the sour, tartness that would happen when you added a bunch of lemon juice. You can also candy zest and sprinkle the crunchy bits on top of salads, cupcakes, and fish.
Do I Really Need It?
If you have some world-class knife skills or a vegetable peeler, then no. But, read on and maybe I’ll convince you…
Zesting is a delicate business. You want to get that top layer, without getting the white pithy part of the citrus fruit. The pith is bitter (Think about eating a grapefruit with a spoon out of a halved grapefruit or as a segment like you would an orange. That bitterness is pith, my friend.) If you don’t have a zester, you can either cut skin off with your knife (if you’re just that good) or use a vegetable peeler and lightly peel off a section.
Of course, now you have skin, but it’s in a big ol chunk. You still have to slice that skin into fine little strips. If you have that kind of time and the knife to do it, go for it. If you’re lazy like me, zesters are the way to go.
When Paul and I were registering for our wedding, it was only a halfway automated process. Back in the day, you had to go to the store with the scanner and actually scan the items. If you made a mistake, the registry consultant would have to fix it for you. None of this easy “add and delete online” business that you young whipper snappers take for granted. I accidentally scanned three zesters, and we had to ask the consultant for help. When I explained the problem, her response was, “Ha ha. No problem. I mean who needs a zester anyway? Such a waste.” When I said, “No. I just want to register for one zester. Not remove all of them.” She looked at me and said, “Huh. I guess that’s your business, but to me it takes up so much room.” Folks, a zester is about the size of your tablespoon measure. Yes, it’s just cluttering up my drawer.
Where Can I Buy My Very Own?
Any store that sells kitchen goods should have one. I recommend stainless steel because they are easier to clean (sticky citrus is my enemy). A higher quality one will last longer, because you aren’t able to sharpen them. Once it’s dull, it’s done. My zester is made by WMF, a German company that’s been around since the mid 1800s, but they no longer make this particular item. (Although, I love that their web site has a section entitled Kitchen Tools for Trenching where they sell a mozzarella slicer that looks suspiciously like an egg slicer. I love Germans!)