About Zesting, Juicing, Storing and Peeling Citrus
Citrus Zest - Zest is the colored part of a citrus peel, and can be peeled off and "twisted" to add flavor and color. When choosing citrus for zest, do a scratch-and-sniff test on the peel. Once scratched, the fruit's floral scent should fill the air as the aromatic oils are released. This scent recedes quickly, so add zest at the end of your preparation process.
A zester is a handy little grater that shears off long fine strings of the colored rind. Use the strings "as is" or mince them. For very fine zest, use a rasp-type zester. These have no holes and look like a woodworker's rasp.
Always wash fruit, but don't cut it before zesting. Measure zest loosely in a spoon, don't pack it too tightly. To store freshly grated peel, seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Extra zest can be frozen for later use, up to six months.
Citrus Peeler - A citrus peeler is a pencil-sized plastic device with a v-shaped protrusion on the side of one end. Place the v-shape at the top of the orange and pull it down over the rind to slit the rind only.
You can make several of these slits spaced around the orange, then easily remove the peel.
Juicing - To squeeze the most from your citrus fruit, prick the skin in several places with a fork, without going all the way into the flesh. Microwave on high for about 10 to 20 seconds. Let stand two minutes before rolling the fruit between your palm and the countertop. Cut open and squeeze out the juice. Store fresh-squeezed juice in an airtight screw-top jar for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Most whole citrus fruit can be stored at room temperature for one week or uncovered in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. To remove wax from the skin of citrus, scrub under warm water. Citrus fruit doesn't ripen after picking. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size to ensure ripeness. Freeze citrus juice in ice cube trays. When solid, place cubes in a heavyweight plastic bag and seal tightly. Freeze for up to six months.
Instead of cutting a lemon for just a few drops of juice, stick the fruit with a toothpick and squeeze out what you need. To store, reinsert the toothpick, place lemon in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
Slicing the Perfect Section - Orange or grapefruit sections add color and tang to green or fruit salads.
For perfectly sliced sections, follow these steps: (If you need finely grated orange peel for the recipe you're working on, do that before you begin sectioning the orange.) With a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom so the orange will stand on end. Slice the peel off from top to bottom, making sure to slice away all the white pith and the outer membrane of the orange sections. Each orange section should come out easily, though you may need a paring knife to separate it from the dividing membranes. Do this last part over a bowl to catch any juices you may need.
Another way to make picture-perfect fruit sections for a salad is to immerse whole citrus in a pot of boiling water and let stand four minutes. Remove and cool until easy to handle. When you peel the fruit the pith should come right off.
To make a "twist" for a garnish, you can use a special tool with a small hole in the end to peel off a very thin strand of rind. If you don't have this tool, you can also use a very sharp paring knife to carefully slice a long strand from the fruit before peeling it.