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Due to my affinity for baked goods, I decided to try creating key lime pie filling from scratch. I've done so twice now using two recipes. The first of which calls for key lime zest as a primary ingredient. The second of which does not, though a recommended modification of the recipe, which I followed, does call for it.

Timing the process, it took me about 20-25 minutes to grate 3 tsp. of zest from my key limes using a planar grater/zester and a small ceramic bowl. I would like to significantly speed up this process if I can, but the size and texture of key limes makes them difficult to zest for more than a pinch at a time.

Is there a faster way? I was thinking of doing something crazy with my food processor or investing in a proper zester, though I'm not sure how much this would speed things along. There also seem to be rather expensive products like the Spin Zester out there, but they seem of dubious applicability to this problem.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It seems to me, that a quality planar grater is the best solution. The Spin Zester is way too expensive for a home kitchen. I can recommend this fine micro plane grater for zesting:

Microplane Fine Zester

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I'll second the microplane. I use the long skinny one instead of the model above, but I can zest 6 key limes in about 4 minutes. Maybe the asker just needs more practice ... or safety gloves. –  FuzzyChef Nov 14 '11 at 6:33
    
Or the Microplane. We have this big, bulky cheese grater with a fine grater/zester attached to it. The thing is dull and slips around, making a complete mess of the process and taking additional time to secure. This will do nicely. –  MrGomez Nov 14 '11 at 18:15
    
And one can be purchased for $13.16 through Amazon: amazon.com/Microplane-38004-Professional-Spice-Grater/dp/… . Very nice. I'll see how it works for me. –  MrGomez Nov 14 '11 at 18:20
    
@soegaard Worked like a charm. The 38004 took the zesting time down from 25 minutes to around 2.5. That'll do. Thanks! –  MrGomez Nov 20 '11 at 23:04
    
@MrGomez Great! –  soegaard Nov 21 '11 at 9:44
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When I need larger amounts of zest, I peel the fruit with a knife as best I can, scrape off the white part, and then use a food processor or finely chop it. This is slower for small amounts, but much faster for large amounts.

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I think this is actually slower than using a zester. I can zest a lemon in about 15 seconds with one... it'll take longer just to peel, let alone scrape the peel down. –  BobMcGee Nov 13 '11 at 20:49
    
I guess it depends on what you are good at. –  michael Nov 14 '11 at 2:10
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