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Cooking smackdown: Lime vs. Key lime

459_5966I tried my hand at a Key lime pie this weekend. I fully planned to make it with generic limes when I spied a bag of honest-to-goodness Key limes at my local Pavilions. I was surprised at how teeny tiny they were. And how little juice they released, even after I rolled them on my countertop to loosen 'em up. I needed 3/4 cup of lime juice for the filling. Normally, two to four limes would do the trick. But it took more than 20 Key limes. (They were too small for my wooden citrus reamer, so I resorted to the more powerful lemon squeezer.) Suffice it to say, there was a lot of squeezing.

The pie came together well, although the almond-graham cracker crust was a bit too crumbly. (I'll use more butter next time.) While the meringue was browning in the oven, I conducted my own unscientific taste test, slicing open a regular lime I had on hand and a Key lime. The Key lime was brighter, tarter ... is 'lime-ier' a word?

But I'm not sure it was worth the extra work. Purists, am I wrong? Am I giving up too easily?

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Steve Carney

Comments () | Archives (5)

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Key limes have a distinct flavor, that's why I grow both kinds of limes in my garden.
I've found the best way to squeeze them is in a garlic press. I don't roll them or heat them, just cut them in half and squeeze. Very efficient and quick.

If you go a mexican market - like Vallarta, or a smaller local market, you can easily find key limes.

They are still hard to juice, but wow, are they flavorful.

I can spot key lime vs lime sherbert. The key lime has a more defined lime taste to me.

Key Lime Pies

Thank you for your article on fabulous key lime pies. My dad was born in Key West, Florida home of the original key lime pies. These always had a tarty taste to it and were always difficult to obtain. It was in the 1940"s when I became acquainted with the pies and have always had a decadent taste for them. Sometimes when I go to Miami you can find them along route 1 being sold but most of the time you can get them at 1-2 places for which Key West specializes in.

I was surprised that you were able to obtain the limes so thanks again and I will look for your brand when you become national!

E. Pita

you may want to put the limes in the microwave next time and zap them for about 10-15 seconds, making it easier to get more juice out of them.


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