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There’s a lot of confusion over what a zester is. They have a short claw-like appearance. A fine grater isn’t a zester, but can be used as a cumbersome compromise, which risks taking bitter white pith, and is annoying to wash. Likewise a peeler is not a zester either. Though they can crudely substitute a zester, they’re not zesters, contrary to what a lot of manufacturers claim, to promote their multipurpose utensils. A real zester is like a miniature rake for citrus zest. It should quickly and easily remove zest in a dry manner, without bitter white pith.
At the time of writing, there was even a fine grater on the market, advertised solely as a zester, and not a multipurpose utensil. In the future a zester might be redefined to include graters. But currently the claw-like, zest-raking utensil is the accepted standard, and has been for many years. For the sake of these reviews, that standard will be used, and zest graters won’t be considered here as zesters.
Norpro 113 Grip-EZ Zester and Stripper
This little beast makes it easy to quickly claw-off some zest, and even has a fat comfy handle. Left handers can actually use this thing comfortably. Also it’s possible for young children to use it, but for safety reasons it’s not recommended. It has long lasting sharpness, and makes nice zest twisters and long zest stripes. For your baking and cooking needs, it’s great for avoiding pulpy wet mush, but fine specs of zest are a challenge because it carves long grains. It can be washed in a dishwasher, but ideally it should be hand-washed to remove dirt more effectively.
With similar utensils from the same company, some had problems with the handle coming off of the stainless steel utensil, and another said the return cost for an unopened utensil wasn’t worth the return. The handle isn’t stainless steel, but made of soft santoprene, which feels similar to rubber. The handle provides good grip to help prevent dangerous slips. It’s affordable, yet has long lasting quality, and can be serviced at home. Like all the top zesters, it has a channel knife for zest twisters, but one unlucky buyer said theirs was blunt, and that their zest claw performed poorly.
OXO Good Grips Lemon Zester
The highlight of this small zester is the soft, short, comfortable handle. As the name of the product outright tells us, the handle has good grip, even with wet hands. So rest assured this beastly claw is not likely to slip into harm, when you’re clawing at zest. Its’ claws have sharpened holes, like so many other zesters. The fancy handle and stainless steel head, are dishwasher safe, and easy to clean. The soft grip is like wheel suspension, absorbing hard shocks and tension when carving zest off a lemon. This company has received an award for arthritis friendly utensils.
The channel knife, like all the other zesters here, allows you to make zest twisters to decorate your drinks. However, it can be uncomfortable to use this channel knife as effort is needed to force some tension into lemon skins. A number of people had discouraging experiences with it, especially with effectiveness and ease of use. Broken zest twisters were also a problem. Even the scraping claws became monotonous labor, when scratching off large amounts of zest. Some people did find it quick and easy to use, a few complained of bluntness. It appeared around 20% of buyers weren’t satisfied.
Avacraft Lemon Zester
Avacraft researched designs for an ergonomic handle, well suited for zesting. The stainless steel chassis reaches the full length of the handle, so you can be sure it won’t snap off, unlike a lot of cheap gimmicks out there, that use a pretty plastic handle as an excuse to go thrifty on the metal. For those that are left handed and not ambidextrous, unfortunately this zester isn’t for you. Those with big hands won’t need to envy smaller hands, because rest assured the long handle will do for you what a stylus does for your touchscreen i.e. makes it usable.
They say it’s easily cleaned, even under a running tap or dishwasher. Avacraft are so sure about the handle and rust resistance, that they provide a lifetime guarantee. They strangely boast about the channel knife combo, though this isn’t a special feature for zesters anymore, it’s the expected standard. The very sharp blades make it quick and easy to use for scratching off zest grains and carving out zest twirled twisters for your drinks. It avoids pith well, but some people may find monotonous effort is needed to such a discouraging extent, you’ll be glad you’re only serving one drink..
Mixologist World Professional Zester Knife
A professional stainless steel, long lasting zester, with a manual hand-powered, juice-squeezing device. The nice grip black handle is attached to the stainless steel head, and whether it will break off or fall off is unknown for now, but time will tell. It has a channel knife, and it’s quick to zest and easy to clean. Strangely a few people received the squeezer in the package without the zester. To top it all off the package comes with a 5 year warranty, unlike some of the others reviewed here, you would be lucky if they had a 12 month warranty.
This zester comes with a channel knife to complement the scraping claw. Just like so many other zester channel knife combos, this one makes nice perfect zest twisters. It scratches off zest for baking foods like cakes and breads. At least one buyer believes it’s more efficient than common generic zesters at scraping off zest, with less wastage and no pith. It wasn’t possible for this review, to measure and verify whether this zester really is more efficient with zesting. Nobody else testified to such experience, and it appears that it zests as good as any other good performing zester.
1Easylife Stainless Steel Lemon Zester
It appears around 10% of buyers seemed to have received a blunt zester, which they insisted was not sharp. But some of the satisfied customers claimed their zester was sharp and easy at carving spirals with the channel knife, and grating zest with the claw. If your zester has a dull rake, you should expect it won’t be easy to use unless you have big strong hands, or your lemon has a soft zest surface. Applying too much hand fatiguing pressure, runs the risk of a slipping injury, and ripping into pith. Left handers might find it hard to use.
It’s a small, narrow zester, with a long and comfortable handle for good control. It has a loop at the end to hang in your kitchen, and only has a 12 month warranty. It’s made entirely from quality, long-lasting, lead-free, stainless steel, and washes very easily, even in dishwashers. Unlike some low quality utensils, with plastic handles that break off the metal head, this zester has a quality stainless steel handle that’s strongly fixed to the utensil. It’s entirely made of stainless steel, and good at carving long stripes and twisters of zest without pith, and without wet soggy mush.
What to Look For
Unfortunately zesters are not as easy to sharpen as knives, and a lot of people treat them as consumable items, that are thrown away when blunt. If you’re environmentally conscious, please consider a zester that can easily be recycled. Those made entirely of a single material like stainless steel, are easiest to recycle, because they are more commercially viable for recycling, because the costs to break them down are a small hindrance to profits, unlike something less appealing like a glazed ceramic utensil. Such are unprofitable for recycling, and at risk of ending up as pollution dumped in a landfill.
Sharpness and good grip, help prevent injuries often caused by applying too much pressure to compensate for bluntness. This can be aggravated by slipping the handle due to poor grip. If you’re left handed, pay special attention to whether a zester is ambidextrous or at least has a left handed version. This isn’t only for safety reasons, but also for easy use and effective control for better precision. If you have big hands, a longer handle will help. If your hands aren’t strong, sharp blades make zesting easier. Soft, ergonomic handles are also helpful for frail hands, especially with arthritis.
All the zesters reviewed here had channel knives, which are used to decorate drinks with a curly zest twister. In the past, this had been done with a separate channel knife utensil, but now this two-in-one combo is the new zester standard. Zesters are great for cocktails and other beverages like iced tea. Some people prefer to use zest graters for extracting fine round grains of zest for cooking and baking. It seems scraping off zest with some of the little claw zesters, is too stripy for a lot of meals, but useful for some dishes like salads and pastas.