Monday, November 5, 2012

Key Lime Pie with Homegrown Limes

Key Lime Pie doesn't exactly scream Autumn to me, but since my potted key lime tree has had a bumper crop this year, when facing a decision on what pie to bring to a recent Samhain potluck, I decided it was a good opportunity to use up these limes and make something I haven't made before.

Here are the limes I picked off my tree. The limes most Americans are used to are Persian Limes, the big green ones. Key Limes are also known as Mexican Limes, and are golf-ball sized with more aromatic flavor. They also turn yellow if you let them fully ripen on the tree! I've had my tree in a pot for several years, but I'll probably plant it in the ground soon, so it can get even bigger.

I ended up getting almost enough juice for a whole pie, only needing to top it off with less than a quarter cup of store bought lime juice. Squeezing all those little limes was a bit of a pain, though.

I based my recipe off a recipe for Easy Key Lime Pie I got off, but with some tweaks suggested by the comments, using two cans of milk instead of one, four egg yolks instead of five, and a full cup of lime juice. I was pressed for time, so I didn't make my own crust and used a store-bought one.

Key lime pie is an amazingly simple recipe, using only three ingredients in the filling: lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. It was invented in Florida before refrigeration was common, hence using canned milk, eggs that were presumably freshly laid by the backyard chickens, and freshly picked limes off the local trees, all things that don't need to be refrigerated! Originally it wasn't even baked. The acid from the lime juice made the eggs set up. Today it's baked, but only for a short amount of time.

Here is the finished pie. I only made one mistake, and that was to throw in the zest of my limes along with the juice. That made it have little chunks in it, and I think I would have liked it better if the filling was completely smooth. Next time I'll leave out the lime zest, but other than that it was very good. The filling set up perfectly, and it was nice and tart. It's the kind of dessert for people who like things like Sweet Tarts and Sour Patch Kids.

Key Lime Pie
  • 1 deep dish graham cracker crust (either homemade or store-bought)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 (14 ounce cans) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup key lime juice
Whisk the egg yolks, milk, and lime juice together until smooth. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Chill completely before serving. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Easy as pie!


  1. We've been keeping our key lime tree in a pot so that we can move it inside should the weather get too cold.
    How low a temperature can a key lime tree withstand?

  2. I've read conflicting things about that, but I want to try it anyway. I'll wait until spring so it gets more time to get established. My mother-in-law has a bay laurel tree she planted in the ground that she covers with a tarp when it gets too cold. I might try that as well. That will work until the tree gets too big, but maybe once it's big it can withstand colder temperatures.