How Long Lemon Zest Will Last In Your Fridge And Freezer

Lemon zest is one of those ingredients that always brings a fresh zinginess to both sweet and savory dishes, from fragrant sorbets to perfect pasta al limone. The finely shredded rind is highly nutritious, and also delicious, with a frankly unbeatable scent thanks to its aromatic natural oils.

It's virtually impossible to zest an already juiced lemon, so if you're planning on making a recipe that calls for a lot of lemon juice, zest your fruit first. This way, you don't waste any of that precious yellow goodness. Just make sure to wash the fruit well beforehand to remove the wax you find on fruit that is not organic. When you zest, remove only the yellow skin, not the white pith beneath, which can be bitter.

If you're not planning to use the peel straight away, the good news is that zest keeps well in the refrigerator for around a week. Just make sure to keep it in an airtight container. Looking to keep it longer than a week? Then the best bet is to freeze it. If you keep it in a resealable bag, or an airtight container, lemon zest can last for up to a year in the freezer, ready to be used whenever a recipe calls for it.

There's no need to defrost frozen lemon zest before use

The best bit about freezing lemon zest, apart from how long it lasts, is that it can be used straight from the freezer. Which means no waiting around for it to defrost, as you can just use it immediately. Very handy if a recipe calls for zest, but you don't have any fresh fruit on hand.

Finely grated zest, when you've used a microplane, can be used frozen for desserts, such as making a fresh lemon pound cake. Just use it as if it were freshly zested, and drop the zest straight into your batter. Larger or curly pieces of zest make a great garnish for cocktails or a crisp gin and tonic, and you can just pop them in your drink directly from the freezer for a nice bonus chill to your drink.

If you regularly juice lemons, zesting them first and freezing the zest means you'll have a plentiful supply on demand. Since the average lemon contains around a tablespoon of zest, it also makes it easy to work out the amount you'll need when cooking, as you can simply add a spoonful from the freezer if the recipe suggests using the zest of one fruit.

Elevate everyday recipes using frozen lemon zest

If you're lucky enough to have a big batch of lemon zest in the freezer, congratulate yourself on reducing waste and being so well organized because it will save a huge amount of time when doing recipe prep. Not only that, but there are a number of ways you can use the frozen zest beyond baking cakes and garnishing cocktails, to take everyday dishes to new heights.

From adding brightness to pasta dishes or salad dressings to livening up fish, chicken, and vegetable dishes, lemon zest is endlessly versatile. Add finely grated zest to sauces for a light, fresh flavor, or combine it with breadcrumbs and fresh herbs for a delicious breading. Or simply add the zest to crushed peppercorns, or coarse kosher salt, for a quick and tasty seasoning you'll use time and again. Lemon-scented salt on your chicken or salmon? Delicious.

Looking for a lemony drink to round off a meal? Try making homemade limoncello with your zest for a true taste of sunshine, no matter what the weather. Made with just four ingredients (lemon zest, high-proof neutral grain spirit or vodka, water, and sugar) the infused drink is the perfect way to finish dinner with a touch of Italian flair, or it makes an ideal present — if you can bear to give it away.