Easy fast pie made with key lime juice, sweeten condensed milk and egg yokes in a graham cracker pie crust topped with meringue. Traditional and original South Florida pie that has been made since Borden began manufacturing can sweeten condensed milk in 1853. Originally the pie was made with a blind baked pie shell but today we have graham crust pie shell to make it very quick and easy. Key limes are small round limes.
Key West Islands had many lime orchards and their cash crop of limes was sold to ships that stopped to resupply. Limes was important to sailors to keep them from getting rickets from the lack of vitamin C. There wasn’t many cows on the islands and plenty of chickens to sell to the ships. The new canned milk was used to make a pie using the local limes and eggs. A simple pie that didn’t require a long baking process in the tropical heat. The lime acid cooked the egg yokes and set up the pie. The left over egg whites was beaten with a little sugar that topped the pie baked just long enough to set the meringue. Cooking was done in a kitchen not attached to the home usually during the cooler hours of the day. The main meal was in the middle of the day and a smaller meal in the evening usually of left overs from the earlier meal. Nothing was wasted.
Over the years, chefs have deviated from the simple recipe to more gourmet leaning pies. Using ingredients like heavy cream, other types of limes, gelatin and green food coloring. True key lime pies are not green because key lime juice is light yellowish green. If you can’t find key lime juice at the market you can take lemon and lime juice in equal parts to come close to what key lime juice taste like. An authentic key lime pie is a pale color and mild in flavor.
Authentic Key Lime Pie With Meringue
- 1 baked pie shell or graham cracker crust pie shell
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup key lime juice (10-12 key limes)
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) sweeten condensed milk
- 3 eggs separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
In a bowel beat sweeten condensed milk with egg yolks. (Reserve the egg whites for meringue.) Add lime juice to mixture and mix until thick. Pour into pie shell.
With a electric mixer beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tarter and continue beating until white and thick. Add sugar while beating slowly and beat until the peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Top pie and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until meringue is set and peaks are brown. Chill and serve.