Peeling a lemon isn't complicated, but how you do it determines what you can use the lemon peel for. Peeling the lemon in sections, from one end to the other, is simple and fast. You can use the sections for candied lemon peels, dry them for fragrant sachets or toss them in your garbage disposal as a natural deodorizer. Spiral peeling on the other hand, takes a bit more technique, but leaves you with a spiraled lemon peel you can use for garnishing drinks.
Slice off the two pointed ends of the lemon with a sharp chef's knife, so both ends are flat. Stand the lemon upright on one end.
Position a paring knife on a top edge of the lemon, wedging it between the lemon flesh and the white pith and peel.
Slice down the lemon until you reach the bottom, following the natural curve of the fruit and removing a section of peel. The sections you cut away can be any size, depending on your knife and how you plan to use the peels afterwards. Repeat all around the lemon until you have removed all of the peel.
Cut away any remaining white pith with the paring knife.
Cut off both ends of the lemon with a sharp chef's knife.
Hold the lemon in your non-dominant hand. Position the paring knife at the top end of the lemon, so it is parallel to the lemon.
Cut away the peel carefully in a continuous spiral motion, from the top of the lemon to the bottom, rotating the lemon toward the knife as you go. Don't stop to cut off the spiraling peel until you have peeled the entire lemon, resulting in a long spiral you can use as a cocktail garnish.
Use the long spiral peel for the classic horse's neck cocktail. Add 2 parts bourbon, brandy or rye whiskey to a tall Collins glass filled with ice. Fill the rest of the glass with ginger ale and garnish with the long spiral lemon peel. Create thin, elegant spiral peels for garnish with a channel knife, which is a a special culinary tool that will allow you to cut a much thinner peel than you can with a paring knife. It will leave a thicker peel on the lemon, which you can then remove with a paring knife. Use a microplane grater to zest off the peel, which will turn the entire peel into lemon zest.
Avoid cutting yourself when hold the lemon for the spiral peel by wearing a cut-resistant kitchen glove to protect your hand.