How to Make a Lime Zest Condiment

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Zesting a citrus fruit, whether it's a lemon or a lime, entails delicately shaving off its peel. The resulting shavings -- or "zest" -- offer an intensely tangy ingredient full of the lime's most flavorful component, its essential oils. You can use these fine shavings to add a powerful, refreshing kick to all kinds of condiments, including a few easy-to-make homemade options.

Things You'll Need

  • Microplane grater (fine or coarse)
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing bowls
  • Sealed container
  • Mortar and pestle or spice grinder

Making the Zest

  • Wash the unwaxed lime thoroughly by holding it under cool running water and rubbing it between your hands or brushing it with a soft-bristled dish brush. Wipe the lime dry with a paper towel.

  • Grasp the handle of your microplane grater firmly, holding the blade in a level, horizontal position over a smooth, clean cutting board. Use a fine grater to make a light, more powdery zest or a coarse grater to make bigger strands that add more intense lime flavor to your condiments.

  • Hold the lime securely in your fingertips and carefully rub it in one direction across the grater's blade, smoothly sweeping it away from the handle. Only grate the top green surface of the skin -- avoid removing the white pith underneath the outer peel, which can give your zest an unpleasant, bitter flavor. Rotate the lime and sweep it across the grater's blade until you've grated the entire peel of the lime. Gently sweep the lime zest into a small mixing bowl.

Lime-Infused Mayonnaise

  • Whisk some egg yolks in a mixing bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper. For an extra punch of flavor, you can also add a spoonful or so of Dijon mustard.

  • Continue whisking the mixture vigorously and slowly add oil -- olive or groundnut oil do the trick here. Slowly trickle it into the eggs in a steady drip as you stir. Whisk until the concoction takes on a smooth, creamy, whipped consistency.

  • Mix the lime zest thoroughly with your mayonnaise base. Use about 2 tablespoons of zest per cup of mayo. For a hot and tangy lime mayo, blend in a dash of hot sauce or smoky chipotle puree.

Lime Zest Mustard

  • Combine your mustard seeds -- either the seed variety of your choice or a blend of varieties -- with a liquid curing mix. For a lime zest mustard, you can use a combination of white or wine vinegar, water or beer, depending on the type of flavor you want for your mustard. Use about a half cup of seeds for every three-quarters of a cup of liquid mix.

  • Leave the seeds and liquid in a sealed container at room temperature for about 2 or 3 days to cure.

  • Season the cured mix of seeds and liquid with lime zest -- use roughly the zest of one lime, and add a few squirts of fresh lime juice if you wish. Season the seeds with additional spices per your preference. For instance, use sea salt, curry powder and sugar for a lime-curry mustard or turmeric, sugar and lime juice for a lemon-lime mustard.

  • Grind your seasoned and cured mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until they have a smooth consistency with a slightly grainy but spreadable texture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lime zest works well in all sorts of condiments, whether they're homemade or off-the-shelf. Add zest to pre-made grainy mustard, classic mayonnaise, virtually any salsa, ketchup, pico de gallo or dressing, for example. Lime zest even lends itself to melted butter. Simply make the zest and blend it with the condiment to taste.
  • To make a zesty lime version of the classic Italian condiment gremolata, use your microplane grater to grate a clove of garlic and the zest of one lime into a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley. Just stir the mixture and serve.
  • Raw eggs have been associated with salmonella, which is a potentially dangerous food-borne bacterium. Use caution when serving dressings containing raw eggs, and never serve them to young children, the elderly, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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