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A special kitchen tool that is used to shave bits or strands from the outer most layer of covering on citrus fruits such as lemons, limes or oranges. By adding this layer to raw or cooked foods, the flavor of the food being prepared is enhanced with the oils of the fruit.

Hand zesters are available in several different types. A single headed zesting tool consists of a handle at one end and small cutting holes at the other end. The cutting holes remove narrow shavings of zest from citrus fruits as the tool is pulled along the skin of the fruit. The zester cuts deep enough to remove the colored portion of the skin, or zest, but it does not cut deep enough to remove the bitter layer below the zest called the pith. Some models also have a single cutter below the cutting holes at the top. The single cutter runs perpendicular to the smaller cutting holes and is used to remove wider and longer portions of the zest that can be used as a garnish or decoration. A second type of zester is a grater or rasp-styled grater that may have different sized holes to provide different sized bits for the zesting process. The grater is a long narrow stainless steel tool that has sharp teeth to carve out bits of the peel as it is moved across and around the fruit skin. The zester is easier to use and is more efficient in removing the zest than other tools such as knives or vegetable peelers. Zesters can also be used to cut curled shavings from blocks of chocolate, creating attractive garnishes or decorations for desserts.

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