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Most recipes that use lemon zest call for "zest of one lemon" or some such amount. To avoid the bother of organic lemons that invariably go bad before I use them and having to fiddle with zesting I'd like to use dried zest soaked in lemon juice instead.

How should I substitute the amounts? I'm guesstimating that drying would reduce the volume by about half, but how much good fresh zest is there on a lemon in the first place?

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Zesting is really easy if you have a microplane. –  user5561 Nov 22 '13 at 1:45
    
@user5561 The more pressing problem is I only have a use for the zest once a month or so, organic lemons come in bags of ~5, and they get moldy in a few days. –  millimoose Nov 22 '13 at 17:38
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@millimoose I recommend that you go ahead and buy the bag of lemons. Zest as much as you think you will use in about 3 months, and put it in a little baggie in the freezer. Try to get it into a kind of even, thin layer as it freezes. That way it will be easy to take what you need when you need it and put the rest back in the freezer. Then juice all the lemons. Freeze the juice, refrigerate it for use within a few days, make lemonade, whatever. If you still have unzested peel left, how about Candied Peel? –  Jolenealaska Nov 22 '13 at 20:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most foods dry to about a third their original size, so I would use one third of the amount called for.

Lemons vary a great deal in size, but the recipe probably means one tablespoon of zest, which is normal for "medium" sized lemons.

Use one teaspoon of dried zest for one tablespoon of fresh zest.

Something to watch out for is that most cheap "dried lemon peel" products are actually made from the zest and a bit of the pith, which will both give you a bitter flavor and short you some of the lemon flavor you expect. Look closely at the zest you buy, if you can see that the individual pieces have two distinct layers, or a pale yellow or white color, steer clear of that brand. This is probably a "get what you pay for" situation, so spring for the higher end lemon zest.

I have also had great luck drying my own lemon zest. Unless your kitchen is humid, it will probably dry in a day or two just sitting on a plate on the counter.

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Here's what I do. Zest all your lemons, measure out 1 Tbl. at a time and put it into an ice cube tray. Add a little bit of either water or lemon juice and freeze. When frozen you can pop them out and store in a zip lock bag or a freezer safe container. When you need some zest just grab a cube and defrost. Hope this helps.

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