I keep lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange zest in the cupboard just in case I want a handy garnish, to flavor tea or coffee and a variety of other novelty uses. For example boil some water on the stove and drop in some zest for a refreshing scent throughout your home.
Okay then let's get started, here's what you will need:
Obviously you're going to need one or more lemons. Wash the outside thoroughly. Once you see how easy this is you may very well find yourself using it enough to want to dry it and store it so it's always available.
A sharp knife for cutting the lemon
If you're going to make a lot and store it you'll need a container of some sort and a cookie sheet to dry your zest on (for longer term storage).
Okay then let's do it...
Making Fresh Zest
Using the knife cut the lemon into quarters. Use your thumb to peel the rind off in a single piece.
Don't worry about the pulp, worry about getting the rind quarter off intact.
Once you have peeled the fruit use the edge of the spoon to scrape off the white pulp from the rind. The pulp will scrape cleanly leaving only the skin of the fruit which contains the oils that give it its flavor and scent. The lemon "nipple" is a pain and may be trimmed to make the cleaning easy.
The rind is much tougher and a different color than the pulp so its very, very, very easy to know when you're done.
I also found that if I ran some water over the pulp first most of came off quite cleanly leaving only a thin layer to be scraped off.
With your finger tips tucked back using the knuckles of one hand to guide the knife blade as you cut the now clean peel into thin strips.
Depending on your uses these strips can be cut in half or quarters lengthwise or even diced into small bits for easy mixing into recipes.
DRYING AND STORING
If you're want to dry and store the zest for future use heat your oven to approximately 200 degrees. Spread the zest strips ( or diced zest or a mixture of both ) out on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven, every 10 minutes or so use a spatula to make sure the zest is drying evenly (and doesn't burn). When its dry place it in a spice container and label for easy identification.