Key Limes

  • What Are Key Limes?

    Key Limes
    Key Limes. Photo © Molly Watson

    Key limes are smaller, juicier, and more acidic than Bearss limes (a.k.a. Persian limes), with a sharper, more bitter flavor that is highly prized by those who like them. Key limes are also known as Mexican limes or West Indian limes. While you may find them at grocery stores looking as bright green as an emerald, key limes actually turn a much more yellow shade (as pictured above) when ripe. These yellow, ripe key limes are juicier, with a fuller and more floral flavor than their under-ripe...MORE counterparts.

    Key limes are named after and associated with the Florida Keys, where they are used to make the famous key lime pie. The pie is a concoction of key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk that, traditionally, depends on the "souring" power of lime juice to "cook" the egg yolks and thicken the pie filling. (Because of concerns about food safety, key lime pies are usually baked right away.) The finished pie is topped with a sweet meringue or whipped cream.

    Key limes have uses well beyond key lime pie, though. Use them wherever you might use limes: gin and tonics or margaritas, of course, but also salad dressings and other desserts.