Greet spring with Key lime pie

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

According to the calendar, spring has officially arrived. The temperatures outside, though, say otherwise. This is no reason why you can’t turn your beach dreams into reality in the kitchen. It’s time to put on some Jimmy Buffett and whip up a key lime pie. Margaritas are optional.

If you’ve never had an authentic Key lime pie, be prepared for a surprise — the filling is not green. Key limes, native to the Florida Keys, have a light yellow juice. The juice, combined with egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk, produces a pale yellow filling.

If you think canned milk and palm trees don’t belong in the same sentence, think again. While limes were abundant on the Keys, dairy products weren’t. Until 1930, there was no ice or refrigeration on the Florida Keys. When Gail Borden Jr. introduced condensed milk in 1857, Key residents rejoiced and a pie was born.

To make a truly authentic Key lime pie, you need the right limes. Unfortunately, few Key limes reach the supermarket shelves here in York County. That being said, the choice is between bottled Key lime juice or freshly squeezed juice from Persian limes, the large green ones always available in the supermarket. I tend to go with the latter, as often what is labeled Key lime juice is just juice from more common limes made from concentrate. I don’t want to spend time online investigating the true provenance of juice that comes in bottles.

The final question is the crust and topping. I find the sweetness of a graham cracker crust balances the tartness of the citrus filling. As for a whipped cream topping, Key lime pie purists eschew it, but I think it adds just the touch to make it Instragram worthy.

Key Lime Pie

For the graham crust

11/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Dash of salt

1/3 cup melted butter

For the filling

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup Key lime juice

For the topping

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Thoroughly mix all of the crust ingredients. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool while you make the filling.

Beat the egg yolks and lime zest until very shiny, about 4 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk, and continue to beat until thick. Add the lime juice, and mix until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the crust, and return the pie to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until it appears set around the edges, though still a bit wobbly in the center.

Let the pie cool, then chill for several hours before serving. Top with whipped cream beaten with confectioners’ sugar.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at