The Best Lime Pie

Key West Florida is famous for two things: the Ernest Hemingway home (with its six-toed cats) and Key lime pie, named after limes, which increase in the Florida keys. A favorite American dessert made with Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolk, the conventional”Conch version” utilizes the egg whites to make a meringue topping. Key limes are smaller, tarter, and aromatic than the common limes we purchase yearlong in grocery shops and grown abundantly in other Florida and California regions. Unlike ordinary lime juice, key lime juice is a pale yellow, which generates the filling’s pale shade together with the egg yolks.

In the early 20th Century, the specific origins are unknown. The earliest recorded mention of Key lime pie might have been produced by William Curry, a boat salvager and Key West’s first millionaire. Supposedly his cook, “Aunt Sally,” created the dish to get him. His crews of sponge fishermen at sea didn’t have access to ovens, but the first version allowed the creamy pie to be ready without baking. Early writings say that Aunt Sally’s variation called for a graham cracker crust and gently whipped cream.

Many cooks and Bakers in Florida assert their recipe is the sole authentic version. Be that as it may, the filling is seldom contested: instead, most debates revolve around the crust and topping. Everyone agrees that green food coloring is for amateurs, and a correct version should be pale yellow. Key limes (also known as Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most frequent lime globally; the U.S. prefers the larger Persian lime.

The two contentious versions center around crust and topping. Early pies probably did not even have a crust, but sailors vacillate between a traditional pie crust and graham cracker. And then there’s the topping. Both camps argue meringue vs. whipped cream. (Apparently, these people have a whole lot of time on their hands) Contrary to popular belief, the filling creamy isn’t cream whatsoever but sweetened condensed milk, which is thicker than evaporated milk and comes in a can, initially introduced by the Borden Dairy firm in the late 1800s. It is possible that when the sponge divers had anything to do with the dish, they had plenty of canned eggs, milk, and Key limes on board (and a good deal of sponges for cleanup ).

In other countries, Where Key limes grow, they are used more commonly in several dishes and hot flavoring. Though developed for centuries in Asian and South America, they did not appear in the U.S. before the late 1800s. This means food president Thomas Jefferson missed out altogether. (How he would have loved these pies!)

If you visit Key West, pie factories and bakeries abound, and you will eat your way from one end to another, reveling in the various offerings and deciding for yourself which you like best. Some stores sell dozens of products improved with Key lime, like moisturizers, potpourri, candles, soaps, candies, and cookies. Unfortunately for much of America, procuring essential authentic limes isn’t always simple, and using regular limes will not do. Oh sure, you can purchase bottled juice, which the natives would frown on, but for some, it is much better than nothing.

Starting in 2013, The yearly Key Lime Festival is held over the July 4th weekend to celebrate their favorite citrus not just as pie but in different foods, beverages, and an essential part of theirs. These pros take their pie quite seriously and expect no less from anyone else. And incidentally, don’t even consider using frozen topping. The whipped cream police will find you and have you arrested.

Author Dale Phillip Never met with a lime she did not like. Although not a Florida native, she’s Enjoyed Key lime Pie on her visits to the Sunshine State and guarantees it is well worth trying. As a Southern California resident, she enjoys the more giant bright green limes. She squeezes them from avocados to Mexican Food, but the vital west variety isn’t shared and seldom seen.