Key West Florida is known for two things: the Ernest Hemingway home (with its 6 toed cats) and Key lime pie, named after limes which increase in the Florida keys. Key limes are smaller, more sour and salty than the common limes we purchase yearlong in grocery shops and grown abundantly in different areas of Florida and California. Key lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is light yellow, which, together with the egg yolk, produces the filling’s pale shade.
Appearing in the early 20th century the specific origins are unknown, but 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”, made the dish to get him. It appears 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. Key limes (also known as Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most frequent lime found across the world; the U.S. is the exclusion in preferring the larger Persian lime.
Both controversial versions center around crust and topping. Early pies probably did not even have a crust, but sailors vacillate between traditional pie crust and graham cracker. And then there’s the topping. (Apparently these people have a whole lot of time on their hands) Contrary to popular belief, what makes the filling creamy isn’t cream whatsoever but sweetened condensed milk that’s 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 really had lots of canned eggs, milk and Key limes on board (and a good deal of sponges for cleanup ).
Although grown for centuries in Asian and South America, they did not make an appearance in the U.S. before the late 1800s. (How he would have loved these pies!)
If you go to Key West, pie factories and bakeries abound, and you can literally eat your way from one end to another, reveling in the various offerings and deciding for yourself which you like best. Additionally, there are stores which sell dozens of products improved with Key lime, like moisturizers, potpourri, candles, soaps, candies and biscuits. Unfortunately for much of America, procuring authentic important limes isn’t always simple, and using regular limes simply won’t do. Oh sure, you can purchase bottled juice that the locals would frown on, but for some it is much better than nothing.
Beginning in 2013, the yearly Key Lime Festival is held over the July 4th weekend for a celebration of their favourite citrus not just as pie but in different foods, beverages, and a valuable portion of their. Certainly these aficionados take their pie quite seriously and expect no less from anyone else. And incidentally, don’t even consider using frozen topping. The whipped cream authorities will find you and have you arrested.