The peels of citrus fruits are highly concentrated with their flavor, and they are often used to flavor dishes in the form of the zest or an extract.
To add a rich lemon flavor to your recipes, you could make use of lemon zest and lemon extract.
Lemon zest is the colorful part of the peel while lemon extract is a lemon-flavored solution made by soaking lemon peels in alcohol.
They provide alternative ways to add lemon flavor to your recipes other than using fruit juice, they are also a great way to make use of the leftover lemons that you have without having to waste them
The flavor obtained from these ingredients is concentrated and does not usually have the acidity or bitterness that the lemon juice has.
In this post, we are going to discuss the difference between using lemon zest and extract to flavor dishes.
Table of Contents
The peels of citrus fruits are made up of two layers; the outer layer is known as flavedo while the inner layer is the albedo.
Albedo is the white layer underlying the flavedo. It contains cellulose, pectin, and hemicelluloses. The albedo also has a bitter taste.
The flavedo is colorful and contains oil glands and pigments.
Lemon zest which is made up of thin yellowish strips of lemon peel is obtained from the flavedo, and it is rich in lemon flavor.
How is lemon zest made
When obtaining the zest from the lemon peels, care is taken not to remove the rind or the albedo which is bitter.
The zest could be taken out with a kitchen tool known as a zester which carves out thin strips of lemon zest.
A grater could also be used, although with a great amount of care to ensure that the bitter albedo does not follow portions of the zest.
How is lemon zest used
The finely shredded pieces of the lemon zest could be added directly in some recipes to give a rich lemon flavor. They could also be processed further to give lemon extracts
Lemon zest could be sprinkled on top of your cake mix for a richer flavor. It could also be candied and served as a dessert.
The zest could be dried to make it last longer and stored until when it wants to be used.
A Lemon extract is a concentrated solution that is lemon-flavored.
Lemon extracts could be bought from the grocery stores or could be made at home from leftover lemon peels.
Most lemon extracts are made using unflavored alcohol, and there are also some extracts that do not contain alcohol.
How is a lemon extract made
Lemon extracts are made from lemon peels and an alcohol base.
The zest collected from leftover lemon peels could be used to make lemon extracts
Alcohol absorbs lemon flavor from the zest and concentrates them. Other citrus extracts are made using this process also.
The alcohol that the lemon peel is put into is usually unflavored alcohol which is used to extract the flavor so that it does not alter the flavor of the lemon juice
The extract is allowed to sit as it takes time to form.
Other solutions like vinegar and glycerin can also be used to make extracts in place of alcohol.
How is lemon extract used
The extract is a highly concentrated source of lemon flavor, and it could be used in the same way as a lemon zest is used but in smaller amounts.
They could be used for baked goods such as cookies and cakes also drinks.
Just in case you want to substitute lemon zest for extracts, lemon extract is highly concentrated, and so, one tablespoon of some lemon extracts might be equal to two tablespoons of lemon zest.
Difference between lemon zest and extract
Lemon extract and zest are both great ingredients to add lemon flavor to your recipes, however, there are some differences observed between making use of lemon zest and extract.
The following are a few differences between using lemon zest and extract for your recipes.
Lemon zest is faster to make
Assuming you have fresh lemon to make use of, then lemon extracts take a much longer time to make than getting the shreds of lemon zest off the lemon peel.
Sometimes you quickly have to make use of the fresh lemon fruits and there is no lemon extract available.
Homemade extracts may require months to make, and so, except if you already have some store-bought or homemade lemon extract available, then zesting the lemon might be the quicker option for you.
Lemon extract is more concentrated
Lemon extracts are more concentrated than lemon zest.
Therefore, if you have a recipe where you may want to substitute the lemon zest for an extract, you may have to use a smaller amount of the lemon extracts.
Lemon extract often contains alcohol
Some lemon extracts are concentrated with alcohol, and if you are avoiding alcohol, it could make using lemon extract a challenge.
Although there are some non-alcoholic extracts made with glycerin, they take longer to make than with alcohol.
Lemon extract has a longer shelf life
These extracts have a long shelf life and can last longer than the lemon zests
Some extracts have a shelf life of up to 4 years.
Fresh lemon zest doesn’t last long but when dried it could last as long as 2 years
Citrus fruits like lemon have peels that are sources of flavor, sometimes richer than the fruit juice itself.
Lemon zest could be obtained from the peels and used immediately, or it can further be processed to produce an extract
Making use of Lemon zest and lemon extracts are some favorite ways apart from the juice to add a lemon flavor to your fruit-flavored desserts.
They do not only provide you with the nice lemon flavor that lacks the bitterness that lemon juice has
The lemon peels also contain nourishment and it allows you to make use of leftover peels which would have otherwise been wasted.