The Tasty Florida Keys Key Limes
Key Limes are used in everything in the Florida Key. We put them on fish, make tropical drinks with them, add them to our many sauces and salsa
and even use them to make the delicious and famous Key Lime Pie. All the restaurants
here use them in their recipes.
It looks like such a humble little fruit. But when you bite into one, you get a very tart surprise.
How can such a small lime carry that much of a sour punch?
I was at a party not so long ago. A friend came up to me and introduced me to a little red oval shaped fruit. This thing was less than half an inch long. It’s called miracle fruit. He had a tree that grew these fruits. He instructed me to chew this fruit and roll it around in my mouth then to bite into a Key Lime. Being the curious type, I did. WOW! to my surprise it tasted like limeade. This miracle fruit makes anything sour taste sweet. The flavor change can last for a long time. It lasted about 45 minutes for me.
Key Limes used to be grown commercially here in the Florida Keys. There’s an old Plantation just over the bridge on Cudjoe Key. It was the Thompson Plantation. They grew many acres of the little seedy fruit.
Unlike the Persian Lime, these little fruits are 1" to 2" and yellow. And did I mention they are seedy and sour. Once you’ve had these limes you won’t want to go back to their big green Persian cousins.
If you’re looking to find them growing in the Florida Keys, you will need to look in the yards of the locals. I know of only one grove of them being grown here commercially. It’s in Key Largo.
Last year most of the Key Limes were wiped out by Hurricane Wilma and her tidal surge. Not all of the trees that survived the hurricane are bearing fruit this year. From what I’ve seen, most of them are not.
I met this lady at one of Mote Marines open houses. She was an expert on tropical fruits. She informed me that if you plant your citrus in big pots, you will then have the ability to rinse the salt water out of the plant’s roots after a tidal surge. Lucky me, not knowing this years before Hurricane Georges hit here, I had my citrus in big pots. They're still doing good today.
There is a disease in Florida that has the potential to wipe out all citrus trees. It's called citrus greening. Once your tree has it there's nothing you can do to save it. But if you plant a guava tree next to each of your citrus trees your tree will be protected from the disease. It seems the guava tree emits a chemical that is toxic to the citrus greening.
One of my favorite desserts is the Key Lime Pie. I have this recipe that makes two pies and it doesn’t use eggs. Here, I’ll share it with you. I use the big block of Cream cheese, but I use the 1/3 less fat version. Let it get soft. Put it in a bowl and add in a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. I use the less fat version of this too. I mix these together with the electric mixer. Make sure there are no lumps. Add a bit more than ½ cup of Key Lime Juice. Yes, you can use the stuff in the bottle. When this is all mixed, fold in 12 ounces of Cool Whip. That’s it. Now I scoop this into two Chocolate Graham Cracker Pie Shells. The regular graham cracker shells work as well. Here's a great recipe book showing many uses for this versatile little fruit.
This is a refrigerated pie. It will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks and still taste like you just made it. This is my favorite thing to take to a get-together where everyone is bringing a dish to share.
I hope you enjoy the recipe for the pie. I will be giving you more tasty recipes using Florida Keys Key Limes as I write this web site.
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