Key Lime Pie part II: The Limes
Most of the time, when people think of limes, they imagine those dark green fruits, roughly the size of a chicken egg, that you can find in the produce section of just about any grocery store in the country. These are called Persian limes, and if you have ever had a Key Lime pie made with the juice from one of these, Im sorry to tell you, it wasn't the real deal. Key Limes, also known as West Indian Limes or Tahitian Limes, are smaller, rounder, have thinner rinds, a stronger scent, and are yellow when ripe. You can see the difference in size and appearance in the photograph above. They are native to South East Asia, but long ago their cultivation spread to the United States, where they flourished in South Florida, particularly the Florida Keys.
Most recipes for Key Lime Pie call for about a 1/2 cup of juice and 12 limes will yield just over this amount. Warning, these little guys are not easy to find in the North East outside of a bottle. I am lucky enough to live near a store that specializes in exotic produce, otherwise this project would never have taken off.
Slice and juice the limes. This is obviously quite tedious work because the limes are so small. If you have an electric juicer, use it, or be ready for sore wrists and hands.
I felt terrible about throwing out all of the spent rinds, but couldn't decide what to do with them. Perhaps next time I will try candying the peels to use as a garnish on the finished pie. For now, I'll just have to be wasteful.
Ah precious liquid! Seems like such a small amount after all that work. I really wouldn't recommend obtaining your juice this way unless you are a glutton for punishment, or are intrigued by the novelty of it.
Stay tuned for part III: Making the crust and putting it all together.