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Jan 15, 2005 04:06 PM

ISO a specific type of zester ... wide pieces

  • j

Below is a msg from my aunt, who is trying to find a specific type of zester for my grandmother. Any thoughts? I usually use an OXO peeler, but I think that she wants something specific to zesting.

"Grandma is looking for a lemon zester that I've struck out trying to find. I tried the type that you got for Christmas [a microplane grater] but it made mush of her lemon rind. Then I got the kind with little holes in the end and that made strips -- but they are too narrow. She wants to have WIDE pieces of lemon for her yams so they become candied, not unrecognizable in the dish. She's thinking of 1/8" - maybe up to 1/4" wide. In the past she has used her old-timey stand-up grater but that goes too deep and gives too much of the white part, which is bitter. Any ideas?"

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  1. OK, I just found three tools in my drawer that will cut the single strip of zest. Two of these also have the five little holes in the end. The one that cuts the single strip only is stamped
    and there's also an image of an open umbrella.
    Another says nothing on it but
    and the third one says

    I had them all long enough that I've totally forgot where I found them. I hope this is of some help.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim Washburn

      For cutting "ribbons" of zest from a piece of citrus fruit, I use my ancient swivel potato peeler. Mine is the cheapo sort you buy at the grocery store. Your Grandmother probably has one in her drawer.

      A couple of tips: You would want to be able to control the depth of the cut pretty accurately so you don't get a bunch of the white pith. Therefore you want your peeler to be really sharp. Many folks don't realize how easy it is to sharpen these babies. You simply rub the peeler back and forth on a whetstone (I use one of the ceramic rods from my knife sharpener) sort of as though you were trying to peel the stone or rod.

      With a nice, sharp peeler, she should be able to cut nice ribbons the length (height?) of the lemon without much of the pith.

      Hope this helps!

    2. What you are looking for is called a channel knife. Almost any kitchen store should be able to fix you right up.

      1. True a microplane grater isn't going to give you what youwant, but if it's making "mush" out of you lemon zest then you're doing something wrong.

        3 Replies
        1. re: xavier

          Xavier has a point. The Microplane products are so sharp that I'd describe the zest they grate as "fluffy" -- almost dry. I assume the sharpness somehow keeps the little oil "glands" or "sacs" intact so the flavor of the oil all goes into your dish.

          1. re: Dorothy

            I agree, and am not experiencing the same with my microplane. The problem is that she is 85 years old, and just doesn't exactly have the touch that she used to. It's a hand-eye coordination thing, and she probably pushes too hard on the grater.

            To get the effect that she wants, I usually use my OXO peeler. But that's not going to work for her cause she doesn't really seem to have the finesse.

            1. re: jen maiser

              Thanks for the clarification. And a Microplan can be downright dangerous -- as you no doubt can see -- if you "slip".

              While a channel knife is a great tool, it's easy in my experience to peel off lots of the white pith with the zest.

        2. The microplane is great, but not for making strips of citrus for candying.

          I usually use a swivel or a Y-shaped (called swiss peeler in some places) to remove wide chunks of the citrus. Then I use a sharp paring knife to remove any white that sneeked in. The key is to press down when peeling to get a good thickness. Then trim the pith.

          1. Channel knife it is. Or, KitchenAid (and others, I am sure) make a combination zester where one can cut narrow strips and wide strips depending on which side of the blade is in use: