#ValleyEats – Getting Zesty with Citrus Fruits

#ValleyEats – Getting Zesty with Citrus Fruits

Want to be part of the movement to limit food waste of all kinds? Get the most from your citrus by using the zest too, the brightly colored top layer of peel.

Tangy citrus zest is a natural antioxidant. It’s also a “free” food, because it has practically zero calories, yet is full of flavor thanks to the natural oils that give grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes and others their strong scents. Unlike the underlying white pith, the zest is not bitter.

The best way to zest? A small-holed grater creates a fine zest when you run the fruit along its length. You can also use a vegetable peeler, then finely chop or use a zester tool. 

Wash the whole fruit well under cold running water, then carefully shave off the fragrant skin, stopping short of the pith. Consider using organic citrus to avoid ingesting any pesticides that can linger on the peel.

Five Zesty Ideas

  • Mix zest with olive oil and minced garlic for a savory, fresh-tasting marinade for chicken.
  • Make flavored cooking oil by stirring citrus zest into a beaker of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Use zest to enhance baked goods—cut the sugar in traditional recipes by half, then add a teaspoon of zest to add unique flavor.
  • With a veggie peeler, slice off large strips of zest, add to a pitcher of water and let sit in fridge to create flavored spa water. Use the pitcher’s strainer to keep zest out of the poured water.
  • Finish off your favorite sautéed vegetables with some zest, along with a squeeze of juice.

Citrus Spinach

This lemony spinach recipe makes a great side with no added salt, especially good for anyone looking to limit their sodium intake.


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime zest
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, spinach and zest. Cook one to two minutes, turning leaves until they wilt. Add the juice, stir once more and serve.

Yield: 2 side-dish servings

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office