Wednesday, 6 October 2010 | Tags: ,

A perfect way to infuse citrus flavour into a dish or beverage, zest of lemon, lime, and orange aren't always easy to produce if you don't have the right tools. We find out how a few different zesters stack up against each other. (They work on chocolate too!)

The Basics

  • Zesters come in many different shapes and sizes. You can find a zester “side” on most four-sided box graters, as well as single-purpose zesters both small and large.

  • Whatever style you choose, make sure it has a good handle grip that is easy to hold firmly. Some handles are designed more ergonomically than others, so be sure to pick them up and try them out.

  • Depending on how much zesting you typically do, you may want to choose a tool that has a dual purpose (e.g. four-sided grater).

  • If you choose a box or four-sided grater style, look for one that has rubber along its bottom to provide better grip and traction as you are using it.

  • Look for high-quality stainless steel material with razor-edged holes. The thinner the metal in the grater plate, the finer the cutting edge.

Zesting Tips

  • Citrus fruits: choose a fruit that is free of pesticides, dyes, and wax. Look for organic if possible.

  • Wash and dry thoroughly to prepare it for zesting.

  • Avoid cutting into the pith (the white part below the outer skin). It has a bitter taste.

  • Zest the fruit first, before cutting or juicing it. It’s much easier to hold onto the whole fruit than pieces.


We invited a zesty volunteer to helps us test three zesters on lemons, limes, and chocolate. (Any excuse for chocolate, right?)

  • OXO ribbon style stainless steel zester: $11.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Microplane ultra-fine zester: $19.95
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Trudeau stainless steel, 4-sided grater: $22.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Zesting Test

  • The OXO zester made great ribbons that would be perfect for a drink or dessert garnish, but it didn’t really give us the kind of zest we’d need for something like a lemon meringue pie. We’d have to chop up the ribbons, which is just too much extra work.

  • We liked the Trudeau box grater for its dual purpose and the nice grip handle on the top, as well as the anti-slide rubber pieces on the bottom. For zesting, it did a good job at getting it nice and fine, but it took a lot of time to get the zest out of the little holes.

  • The Microplane zester was very sharp, really easy to use, easy to clean, and gave us great zest pieces really easily, without any extra work (chopping, extraction).


We liked all three zesters for different uses, but our favourite of all was the Microplane Zester, with its small grate, long body, and ease of use.


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