The exact origin of Key lime pie is unknown, with some historians believing it originated in the mid to late 1800’s from a recipe thought up by the cook of William “Bill Money” Curry. However, others believe that “Aunt Sally’s Key Lime Pie” was just a modified version of the recipe sponge divers created using the acidic Key limes to “cook” eggs and condensed milk in the absence of an oven on their boats.
Contrary to the popular belief that the pie’s filling is cream based, there’s no cream in true Key lime pie. The pie was invented using condensed milk, which was useful in the Florida Keys prior to the 1930’s when they lacked ice and refrigeration. The official pie of the state of Florida, today’s Key lime pie is made from Key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk in a pie crust. Key limes are more tart and aromatic than the common Persian limes seen year-round in grocery stores, and their juice is a pale yellow instead of bright green. Even in Key West, it’s hard to find a true Key lime since most of the indigenous limes were destroyed by a hurricane in 1926 and replaced by the common Persian lime.
Anyone who has visited Key West knows that Kermit’s Original Key West Key Lime Shoppe is the authority on all things Key lime, and DeLand is lucky to be home to Kermit’s kitchen and production facility for non-pie products. Kermit’s sauces, salsas, and jellies are made right here in DeLand!
Most home cooks now bake Key lime pie. If you’re in the mood for some dessert, try Kermit’s Key Lime Pie recipe made with homemade condensed milk!