The Best Way To Use Leftover Lemon Zest Is Adding It To Your Sugar

lemon zest and grater
lemon zest and grater - Koval Nadiya/Getty Images

There's a reason lemon zest shows up in so many recipes. Lemon peels are full of essential oils, so zesting them gives you an explosion of all the best flavors of a lemon. There's less acid and straightforward sourness than there is in the fruit itself, replaced with more concentrated sweet, citrusy, tart notes. That's why the next time you have leftover zest from a recipe, or even lemon peels from making limoncello at home to zest in the moment, you should combine it with sugar. This will give you a perfectly balanced kick of sweetness and tartness that will instantly upgrade drinks and desserts alike.

To store lemon zest until you mix it with sugar, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze it. You want to keep air and moisture out to prevent the growth of bacteria. It's most effective to work with dry zest when combining it with sugar, so for best results, sprinkle it evenly over a pan lined with parchment paper and dry it out in the oven for 10 minutes at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, until it's a little crispy.

Next, combine a ratio of 4 tablespoons of zest for 2 cups of granulated sugar, really rubbing them together so the rough granules can unleash the essential oils, boosting the flavor. Your lemon sugar will keep for three months in an airtight container.

Read more: 13 Simple Tricks To Pick The Best Fresh Fruit Every Time

What To Do With Lemon Sugar

sugar-rimmed lemon cocktail
sugar-rimmed lemon cocktail - Raemi Rhue/Getty Images

You can also make this kind of sugar with any citrus fruit, or even a combination. Lemon and lime, orange and grapefruit -- just keep a ratio of 4 tablespoons of zest to 2 cups of sugar, and make sure you are only zesting the surface of the peel. Once you hit the white part of the rind, you're just getting bitter pith.

These citrusy concoctions are a game-changer for your cocktail sugar rims. You can even play with flavor complexities and use demerara sugar for a deeper, more caramelized quality. Just lightly moisten the rim of your glass with water or juice and roll it on a surface coated with citrus sugar. You can also mix lemon sugar right into your drinks -- take a classic lemonade recipe and amplify its bright sweetness by stirring in zest-speckled sugar, or use a spoonful as the sweetener for iced tea.

Just as a simple swap of lemon sugar emboldens lemonade's flavors, it works wonders for lemony desserts, too. Where you'd use sugar in baked goods like lemon bars, lemon cookies, and lemon cakes, use lemon sugar to layer in even more lemony character. You can sprinkle it on top of lemon muffins to enhance their crispy exterior or make it the star of French-style lemon sugar crepes. Most effortlessly, you can dust lemon sugar over just about anything -- like ice cream -- as a finishing touch.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.