Key Limes – A South Florida Staple

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

Music – “Captiva Moon” from Sanibel Samba – the Songs of Danny Morgan by Bob Mosci. Released: 2008

If you have ever been to Florida, you will probably have sampled “Key Lime Pie”, prevalent all over Florida, but particularly in South Florida.

Key Lime Tree (Photo Credit:  www.bayflora.com)

Key Lime Tree (Photo Credit: http://www.bayflora.com)

The Key Lime is thought to have originated in India, Burma or northern Malaysia and was likely introduced to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 16th century. It appears to have escaped cultivation and began growing wild in southern Florida.

The Key Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is more tart than other limes and smaller in size. The rind is very thin and the pulp tends to be more greenish-yellow in colour, as opposed to the true green of other lime species. If you have sampled true Key Lime Pie, you’ll notice that the colour of the custard is a creamy yellow. If you’ve eaten bright green Key Lime Pie, green food colouring is sure to have been added!

My all-time favourite places in Florida are Captiva Island and Sanibel Island, off the Gulf Coast. The islands were once one island about 6,000 years ago and were inhabited first by the Calusa Indians, and later by the Spanish and Portuguese.

Anhinga - Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Anhinga – Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Despite early settlement on the islands and the building of a lighthouse on Sanibel, it wasn’t until 1963 that a causeway was opened between Sanibel Island and mainland Florida and the tourists flocked in and still do so today. The causeway was re-built in 2007 to replace the aging one.

Snowy Egret, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Snowy Egret, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

There are so many attractions on the islands, it’s hard to know where to start, but one is the “J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge”. There are about 25 miles of beautiful white sand beaches between the two islands and 230 kinds of birds call the islands home.

Captiva Island Sunset, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Captiva Island Sunset, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Lemon Pecton Shell, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Lemon Pecton Shell, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

If you’re not an avid avian enthusiast, you might, like me, be a shell collector; more than 250 kinds of shells inhabit the waters around the islands and if beach collecting is not your thing, there are plenty of specimen shell shops to tug at your pocketbook.

Lettered Olive Shell, 1996

Lettered Olive Shell, 1996

Atlantic Thorny Oyster

Atlantic Thorny Oyster

Of course, despite all of these attractions, there are also Key Limes.

Snowy Egret, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Snowy Egret, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

No cookbook from Florida worth its’ salt wouldn’t have key lime recipes. I have a number of Florida cookbooks, but one is devoted exclusively to key limes: “The Key Lime CookBook” by Joyce LaFray Young.

"The Key Lime Cookbook" by Joyce Young

“The Key Lime Cookbook” by Joyce Young

Just for something different, instead of making pie, how about trying this recipe? The original recipe comes courtesy of “Heart of the Palms” by The Junior League of the Palm Beaches:

 

 

 

 

 

Key Lime Italian Ice

1 Key lime
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
dash of salt
½ cup Key Lime juice
(Note: if you can’t get fresh key limes, you might try looking for “Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice”, bottled, and available in many grocery stores)

 

 

Remove the zest from one Key lime and cut into small pieces. Place zest and sugar in a blender or food processor and process until zest is finely chopped. Pour mixture into 3 quart saucepan. Add water and salt and heat until sugar dissolves. Cool.

Blue Heron, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Blue Heron, Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, Sanibel Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Add enough water to Key Lime juice to make 2/3 cup liquid. Stir into cooled sugar mixture. Pour into divided ice cube trays and freeze. Place frozen cubes in container of blender. Cover and process until the cubes become a velvety slush. Scoop into individual goblets and serve (store remainder in freezer). Makes about 4 ½ cups.

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a refreshing summer treat
and the key limes make a difference.
Enjoy!

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Sunset, Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Sunset, Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)

Captiva Island, 1996 (Photo by Sue Jimenez)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,124. What next? More shelves!
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