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Can You Freeze Zest?

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By Ross Young

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

The zest of many citrus fruits makes the perfect addition to cakes, desserts and even soups. But perhaps you’ve got an abundance of lemons in the fridge or a handful of grapefruits that you don’t know what to do with?

Can You Freeze Zest?

Yes, you can freeze zest for up to 6 months. This applies to all citrus zest, including zest from lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges.

Does Zest Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Zest? No

How to Freeze Zest

If you want to use your zest in desserts or cakes, this is the best approach.

  1. Grat Zest: First, you’ll need to grate the zest, so get to it. Try to avoid grating any of the white pith, which can be bitter and unpleasant. When it comes to freezing zest, you want to focus on getting the best concentration of citrus flavour you can.
  2. Bag Up and Freeze: Tip your zest into a freezer bag and place it in the freezer.

That’s it!

When you need some zest, grab some from the bag. You may need to snap it off as it can freeze into a clump depending on the zest’s water content.

You could spread it out on a baking tray, flash freeze and then store it in a bag to avoid clumping – but who’s got time for that!

How to Freeze Zest in Ice Cubes

If you are going to stir your zest into stews, rice dishes, or soups, then use this approach:

  1. Grate: As you’ve probably guessed, you’ll need to grate your zest again, so get grating.
  2. Spoon into Ice Cube Tray: Once you’ve got your zest, spoon it into the slots of an ice cube tray. You want to fill each slot around two-thirds of the way.
  3. Top up with Water: Once filled, top each slot up with water, then wrap the tray in cling film to keep it protected.
  4. Flash Freeze: Place the tray in the freezer and give the ice cubes several hours to freeze solid.
  5. Final Freeze: Once frozen, you can pop them out of the tray and into a freezer bag for easier long-term storage.

3 Tips for Freezing Zest

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing zest to have the best results:

Consider Your Use
Think about how you’re going to use the zest and freeze it accordingly. If you want it for desserts, then freezing it grated into a bag is the best way to go about it. If, however, you want to stir it into stews and soups, then freeze it into ice cubes. 

Don’t Forget the Juice
Whatever you do, don’t grate the zest, then throw the rest of the fruit out. You can also freeze the juice from the fruit. Use the ice cube approach above. You could even freeze the zest and juice together!

Try Freeze Whole Fruit
You can freeze whole lemons, limes, and oranges, then grate the zest from the whole fruit directly from the freezer. As you grate it, it will thaw, and you’ll have delicious zest. The only downside is that this can take up more room in the freezer.

Freezing Citrus Zest

How Long Can You Freeze Zest?

Zest will keep for an impressively long time in the freezer.

In fact, you’ll be fine leaving it in the freezer for 6 months. After this time, there is a risk that the flavour will begin to degrade. It will remain completely safe to eat.

How Long Does Zest Last in the Fridge?

Once zest has been taken off the fruit, it will only last for around 1 or 2 days in the fridge. It will very quickly degrade in flavour.

How Do You Defrost Zest?

As the zest is so fine, you don’t need to defrost it. If stirring an ice cube into a cooking pot, then it’ll melt almost instantly.

If you’re using pieces of zest in a cake, then give it a few minutes to soften so that you can break it apart easier and then stir into your dessert or cake batter.

Can You Refreeze Zest?

We would advise against refreezing zest. When you refreeze anything, you draw the moisture out. When you draw the moisture out, you lose some of the flavour. By refreezing zest, you’ll degrade the flavour rapidly. 

The only exception is if you have frozen the zest, then use it in another dish that you wish to freeze, such as biscuits or soup

Does Zest Freeze Well?

Zest freezes particularly well. Provided that you don’t leave it sitting in the freezer for months and months, then you’ll struggle to tell the difference between freshly grated zest and frozen zest.

Using the method we’ve used here on this page, it will hold onto its citrus flavour and colour while sitting in the freezer, ready and waiting to be used by you.

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing zest or zest in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Any Fruit Zest?

Whether it’s lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit, the zest of any citrus fruit can be frozen in an ice cube tray. It will retain its flavour for around 6 months overall.

Can You Freeze Lemon and Orange Zest Together?

Yes, zests from a range of fruit can be frozen in combination. You can combine lemon, lime and orange zest together.

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