Key West Florida is known for two things: the Ernest Hemingway house (with its 6 toed cats) and Key lime pie, named after limes which grow in the Florida keys. A favorite American dessert made with Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks, the traditional”Conch version” uses the egg whites to make a meringue topping. Key limes are smaller tart and aromatic than the limes and grown abundantly in other areas of California and Florida. Key lime juice is yellow, which, along with the egg yolks, produces the filling shade.
Appearing in the early 20th century the exact origins are unknown, but the first recorded mention of Key lime pie might have been produced by William Curry, a ship salvager and Key West’s first millionaire. Supposedly his cook,”Aunt Sally”, made the pie for him. It appears his crews of sponge fishermen at sea didn’t have access to ovens but the original version allowed the creamy pie to be prepared without baking. Early writings say that Aunt Sally’s version called for a graham cracker crust and softly whipped cream.
Bakers and many cooks in Florida claim their recipe is the sole authentic version. Be that as it may, the filling is seldom disputed: rather, most debates revolve around the crust and topping. Everyone does agree that green food coloring is for amateurs, and a version ought to be yellow. Key limes (also known as Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most common lime found throughout the world; the U.S. is the exclusion in preferring the larger Persian lime.
Both versions center around topping and crust. Sailors vacillate between traditional pie crust and graham cracker, although early pies probably did have a crust. And then there is the topping. The two camps argue meringue vs. whipped cream. (Apparently these people have a whole lot of time on their hands) Contrary to popular belief, what makes the filling is not cream at all but sweetened condensed milk which is thicker than milk and comes in a can, initially introduced in the late 1800s by the Borden Dairy firm. It’s possible that if the sponge divers had anything to do with the dish, they really had plenty of canned eggs, wild animal control near me and Key limes on board (and a good deal of sponges for cleanup ).
In most dishes, they are used in countries where Key limes grow and as a flavoring that was favorite. Although grown for centuries in Asian and South America, they didn’t make an appearance in the U.S. until the late 1800s. Which means president Thomas Jefferson missed out. (How he would have loved these pies!)
Pie factories and bakeries abound if you go to Key West, and you can literally eat your way from one end to another, deciding which one you like best and reveling in the offerings that are various. There are also shops which sell dozens of products such as candles, potpourri, moisturizers, soaps, candies and biscuits. For much of America, procuring important limes isn’t always easy, and using regular limes just won’t do. Oh sure, you can buy bottled juice which the locals would frown on, but for some it is better than nothing.
Starting in 2013, the yearly Key Lime Festival is held for a celebration of their favourite citrus over the July 4th weekend not only as pie but in foods, drinks, and a valuable portion of their. Certainly these aficionados take their pie seriously and expect no less from anyone else. And incidentally, don’t even think about using topping. The whipped cream authorities will find you and have you arrested.