One our family’s favorite pies while living in Florida was the Key Lime Pie. The key lime has a nice tart flavor, but more pleasant by itself than a lemon or a lime. It’s a perfect substitute for lemon or lime in many recipes. In its simplest form, one only needs a crust, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks, but never…ever, EVER green food coloring. The beauty of the key lime pie is its pale yellow color that comes mostly from the egg yolks. I have resurrected portions of an old post from Fotocuisine.com where I made this recipe over six years ago before I started blogging, and updated to give it a home on my site now.

In 2006, the Key Lime Pie became the official pie of the state of Florida, but long before that my husband – Dave and I have loved the sweet, sour and versatile key lime pie. Before we ever set foot in the Keys, our first summer was spent trying the pie at every restaurant we ran across. It was only later when we actually took two trips to The Keys did we realize how many different ways one could eat key lime pie: plain, frozen, fried, chocolate dipped, dipped, chocolate lined crust, fruit filled, on a stick, meringue topped…

One day we decided to commit to all things key lime by acquiring a key lime tree for our yard, because you can do those things in Florida – it’s basically a requirement. What we really got was limequat tree because it’s hardier in the cold. (It a grafted variety that makes a difference even in Florida!)

That little tree made so many pies, ice cream, crostata, drinks, cookies that w&on a contest, lemon and lime substitutions. I had friends ask if they could dig the tree up when we sold our house! (Sadly I think the current owners moved/got rid of it.) Here’s one of the days water actually froze on the tree, and no it wasn’t the reason we left the state! I miss it – it was like our first child!

Frozen Key Lime/Limequat Tree

No one really knows when the first key lime pie was made, but it is known that prior to the opening of the Overseas Highway in 1930 luxuries such as fresh milk were unavailable. Due to the lack of milk and refrigeration, items such as sweetened condensed milk were a staple in many recipes. Early on, key lime pies were not baked as they relied on a chemical reaction between the milk and lime juice called ‘souring’ – this produced a thick, creamy texture. In the interest of food safety, the pies are baked now and the pie takes on an even more custard-like texture.

Key limes (Citrus aurantifolia) are quite different from regular Persian limes. They are significantly smaller, seedier and more fragrant than a regular lime. They are ripe when their skin is mostly yellow and their rind is also thinner than a traditional lime.

Northern Living with a citrus plant

After about two years living in Pennsylvania, Dave got me a limequat tree for Mother’s Day. So far it has survived the summers outside, and the winters inside. The first year we got a nice batch of limes, about eight. Since then we get a lime here or there. I am still learning how to better take care of the plant during the winter, and so far it has most of its leaves. (Leaf drop and overwatering were a problem last year.) I need to replant it now, but to date it’s the only houseplant I haven’t killed – EVER!

Not bad for northern citrus!

Key Limes grown in PA  Key Limes grown in PA

Photo of our pie from years gone by, made in a tart pan. I hope you give this a try with whatever lime you can find!

Key Lime Pie photo from Fotocuisine.com
Key Lime Pie photo from Fotocuisine.com

 

Key Lime Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy and tart key lime pie
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 1 pie
Ingredients
DIY Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 6-8 tablespoons butter
Key Lime Pie Filling
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (or DIY Graham Cracker Crust finished recipe)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ c cup key lime juice (mix of 3-4 Persian limes, fresh key limes usually a large bag, bottled as last resort)
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • *Optional: 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • *Optional: 1 tablespoon lime pulp
  • *For deep dish/9.5" or 11" tart pan add:
  • ¼ cup key lime juice
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream (½ pint)
  • ~1/3 cup sugar (can use less if wanted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
  2. Clean and zest limes before juicing, and scrape pulp from juiced limes. Optional:Add zest and pulp to lime juice.
  3. In a non-reactive (glass) bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and lime juice mixture. Mix well
  4. Add egg yolks and combine well.
  5. Gently pour filling into graham cracker crust. Tap slightly to remove air bubbles.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and cool slightly before cooling completely in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before cutting.
  7. Garnish and serve
Graham Cracker Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar.
  4. Slowly add butter to the graham cracker and sugar mixture, until it comes together enough to form a crust.
  5. Press graham cracker mixture into pie pan with the back of a spoon, hand or measuring cup.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Cool slightly before using.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
  1. Pour heavy whipping cream into bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  2. On medium high speed (6-8 stand mixer), whip until soft peaks are just about to form.
  3. Lower mixer speed and slowly add sugar and vanilla.
  4. Slowly increase mixer speed until soft peaks form. Do NOT overbeat, otherwise whipped cream will become lumpy.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

 

 

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