by Chef Harry Christensen, of Harry’s Continental Kitchens on Longboat Key, Florida
Gardeners in Southwest Florida are lucky—we can grow almost anything here. But the jewel in every one’s back yard is the Key Lime tree. This sturdy plant requires little attention yet its wonderfully fragrant blooms and fruit appear almost all the year round. And what fruit! The flavorful little key lime is a welcome addition to cocktails, adds piquancy to seafood, and—of course—it is the flavoring ingredient for the world famous Key Lime Pie.
Chef Harry Christensen of Harry’s Continental Kitchen (Photo courtesy of Chef Harry)
You rarely find Key Limes in grocery stores. Our lime is more tart and aromatic than the more common Persian Limes but the Key Lime tree has more thorns so the fruit harder to gather. Also, the rind of the Key Lime is thinner so the fruit is more perishable and harder to ship.
Condensed milk is used in a traditional Key Lime pie. Before modern refrigeration, early settlers of the Florida Keys often did not have fresh milk. The unique taste of condensed milk is part of the experience of a real Key Lime pie. Also, a traditional pie never has added food coloring. Key Lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is a pale yellow. The filling in a Key Lime pie is also yellow, largely due to the egg yolks.
Harry’s Key Lime Pie
1 Baked 10 inch deep pie shell
10 eggs (separated, use yolks)
2 cans (14 oz.) condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice
Mix together add key lime juice last.
Use egg whites
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
equal amount of sugar as egg whites
Whip egg whites with crème of tarter till stiff then add sugar slowly to a stiff peak
Pour filling into pie shell; let it sit while making meringue, pipe meringue on top bake at 325 degrees till golden brown, about 35 minutes-
Hint: For a good key lime pie, the egg yolks get cooked from the Key lime juice (like ceviche), so let it sit a bit.
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