Lemon pepper is a spice that is made by mixing lemon zest with pepper. There are a wide range of uses for it, from a spice rub for grilled meats to a zesty topping for pasta. Many markets carry packaged flavored peppers in their spice sections, and it is also relatively easy to make it at home. By making this spice at home, cooks can control the ingredient proportions and play around with variations which might include ingredients like white or red pepper.
To make lemon pepper, all a cook needs to do is zest a lemon and mix the resulting zest with cracked pepper. To zest a lemon, cooks should use a fine toothed grater or a lemon zester to gently remove the oil-rich outer peel of a fruit. Using a heavy spoon or a mortar and pestle, the ingredients are then crushed together, promoting the release of the rich oil that makes lemons so flavorful. This fresh lemon pepper can be used immediately, or it can be dried in a dehydrator to remove moisture so that it can be stored. People who don't have a dehydrator can use a low oven setting to slowly dry out the spice.
The dried pepper blend can be pulverized to allow the ingredients to spread more easily when used as a seasoning, or it can be left chunky, depending on personal taste. The seasoning can be used on a wide assortment of meats and vegetables, and some people also like to set it out at the table so that people can dress their own food. This spice mixture pairs especially well with fish, pork, and summer vegetables like zucchini.
Basic lemon pepper is often made with black pepper, although peppercorns of different colors can be used as well. Cooks can also add salt, dried herbs, or other seasonings, depending on personal choice. In all cases, homemade spice blends should be stored in an airtight container to ensure that they stays fresh, and people should try to use it within six months to a year. If it starts to taste a little stale, it can be toasted to revive the flavor.
Commercial mixes are also available. A commercial mix can be convenient for a cook in a hurry, although it can suffer if it sits on the shelf too long. When a cook dispenses lemon pepper, he or she should try to avoid sprinkling it directly on to hot food, as the steam can damage the spice.