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Where Do You Find Grated Lemon Rind?

My daughter was making a cake that called for "grated lemon rind." She grated the white pith inside the peel only, and I said it should be the outside yellow part, which is what I use in a recipe. Who was right?

Your daughter is eleven, correct? Give her an ice-cream cone and tell her you'll be in charge of the grated lemon rind until she turns eighteen. At least she's cooking; getting them started at an early age is a wonderful thing. We sometimes wonder how coming generations are going to feed themselves (and worry that it will be mostly take-out and fast-food!)

Of course you are right. Recipes are clearest when they call for zest, but even such a non-specific request as "grated lemon rind" is calling only for the outermost layer of peel the part with the color and all those fragrant oils.

The white pith, whether reached from inside the peel or beneath the outer rind, is bitter. The whole lemon peel is used in making candied lemon peel, but, of course, so much sugar is added that the bitterness is driven away. Certain marmalades and chutneys include the whole peel of citrus fruits, but again, the combination of flavors makes use of the peel's natural bitterness and masks any excessive bitterness.

It may be a challenge to clarify this point for your daughter without resorting to the whole I-was-right-and-you-were-wrong discussion. Perhaps the best approach would be to make the cake yourself, invite her over for a wonderful lunch, and let her see how delicious the cake is when made correctly. (If she doesn't notice a difference, we've got bigger problems....)

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