Zesting a citrus fruit is pretty straightforward with the fruit intact, but sometimes it happens to me that I absent-mindedly halve and squeeze the fruit and then remember that I wanted to zest it before.

What is the best way to do zest a citrus fruit that has already been halved and squeezed? I am using a classical zester and aspire stripes of zest.

What I considered so far:

  • I tried to halve the skin again, so I can flatten each quarter on a cutting board to hold the skin in place while zesting it. This has two drawbacks:

    • Zesting close to a cut edge is more difficult or less efficient and by cutting the skin yet again I increase this.
    • I inevitably squeeze out more juice, which then mixes with the zests. While this is no big issue taste-wise, the zests clump together and are more difficult to scatter.
  • I considered but have not tried yet to put the skin on the reamer I used to squeezing, but then I expect that I lack a third hand needed for this.

  • To prevent the extra juice I keep kitchen paper underneath while zesting.
    – pritaeas
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


Put it pulp side down on a cutting board or plate, stick a fork in it to pin it down and hold it still while you zest in a semicircle. You can pause and spin it, spiraling in towards the center to get the longest bits of zest.


I find that the classical zester is a rather clumsy tool and needs quite a bit of pressure to use, which is hard to do against a squeezed lemon.

I zest with a microplane, and I find that it does a fairly good job with squeezed lemons too, even though it's not as comfortable as with a whole lemon. It is sharp enough to peel off the zest pieces after the lemon was squished.

This may go against your "aspire strips of zest" desire, because the microplane produces finer zest than the classical zester - what you get are still strips, but thinner and shorter. They are actually better suited for baking, but if you want a specific shape and size for decoration or for candying, this might be a problem. Still, it works good for many applications, and I also prefer it on nonsqueezed lemons.

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