Key Lime Pie originated in Key West, Florida by the local residents referred to as "Conchs". The original version was made before the days of refrigeration. There were no cattle in the area so the only milk available was canned milk originally brought in by ship, later by train. This is why the recipe uses canned milk and not fresh. Also, the traditional key lime pie would not be cooked. The acid from the lime juice would set and thicken the egg yolks. Because of the potential of Salmonella bacteria it is best to cook the dessert and bring the yolks up to a temperature of at least 110 degrees.
Key lime pie is a dessert made of key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk in a pie crust. The pie is topped with meringue, then baked until the meringue is a golden brown. Some key lime pies use other types of whipped toppings or none at all. The dish is named after the small key limes that are naturalized throughout the Florida Keys. Their thorns make them less tractable, their thin yellow rind makes them more perishable, but they are more tart and aromatic than the common Persian limes seen year round in most U.S. grocery stores.
Key lime pie is made with canned sweetened condensed milk, since fresh milk was not a common commodity in the Florida Keys before modern refrigerated distribution methods.
Key lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is a pale yellow. The filling in key lime pie is also yellow, largely due to the egg yolks. Some cooks add food coloring to give the pie filling a green color. This practice is frowned upon by those who make traditional key lime pies.
During mixing, a reaction between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice occurs which causes the filling to thicken on its own without requiring baking. Many early recipes for key lime pie did not instruct the cook to ever bake the pie, relying on this chemical reaction to produce the proper consistency of the filling. Today, in the interest of safety due to consumption of raw eggs, pies of this nature are usually baked for a short time. The baking also thickens the texture even more than the reaction alone.
Easy, Schmeasy Key Lime Pie
Stuff You Need... 4 large or extra large egg yolks 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (approximately 12 Key limes) 2 teaspoons grated lime peel, green portion only Whipping Cream For Garnish (Optional) 1/2 cup whipping cream 2 teaspoons granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon vanilla