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If a recipe asks for zest, I always use fresh fruit. I'm wondering if you can preserve it nicely.

I put some in the fridge, but there was some mold after quite a while. I wanted to get rid of the moist, so I put fresh lemon zest in the oven on a low temperature. But I think I left it a bit too long, it's a bit brown now, instead of yellow. However, it still smells and tastes nice, a bit crunchy though. So I'm not satisfied with this result.

Anyone else who has experimented and knows what works or what does not? Is it possible to preserve zest for months (or even longer), without losing too much flavour?

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I'd guess you can freeze it, but I've never tried. Google says yes. –  derobert Aug 9 '11 at 16:57
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've successfully frozen yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit slightly similar to lemon or grapefruit) zest for two or three months without much damage; the flavor isn't perfect, but it's usable as long as you don't get serious freezer burn. I've kept it in a small Rubbermaid container. There is a potential problem because citrus oils can damage certain types of plastic over time, but this didn't affect me; however, plastic bags won't work so well.

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Yes, freezing works reasonably well. You won't get all of the amazing volatiles from fresh zest but much better than nothing. If you have a foodsaver or other vacuum pump, I'd use that, wrapping the zest in parchment or similar first to avoid the plastic degradation that @JasonTrue points out. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 9 '11 at 17:00
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You can preserve it with sugar. It doesn't taste as perfectly fresh as the real thing, more like candied citrus, but it is definitely usable this way. It is well preserved, because it is too sweet/dehydrated for bacteria and mold to eat it. I don't know the exact technique used, but I think it involves covering the zest in sugar syrup and drying it out. Not sure about boiling.

Or you can forego the zest at all and use a spoonful of orange jam or lemon jam as a substitute. If you keep those anyway, it is much easier. If not, you still have one more item to keep track of, but at least is less perishable.

If you can't get good orange or citrus jam at a general supermarket, try at a store which sells British food.

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You can preserve it by dehydrating it; dehydrated lemon peel/zest is widely available. The folks over at Chowhound say that freezing works reasonably well too, if you keep out the air.

Rose Levy Beranbaum (who wrote The Cake Bible) says lemon zest can be frozen, and her community discusses ways to do that: everything from vacuum sealing to cutting off the whole rind to freeze, etc.

So yes, it seems like there are ways to preserve lemon zest, and drying or freezing look like your best options.

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