Key Lime Pie Headlines July 1-5 Festival in Key West

The Florida Keys’ sweetest treat is to be in the “limelight” Thursday through Monday, July 1-5, as fans of Key lime pie salute the island chain’s signature dessert and the tiny fruit that inspired it.

Lil Miss Key Lime PieThe 2021 Key Lime Festival is to include a Key lime pie–eating contest, cocktail stroll, “moveable feast” pie tasting, wacky Key lime pie “drop” and even a scavenger hunt with a limey twist. The event was conceived by Florida Keys author and pie expert David Sloan, who penned “The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook.”

Believed to have originated in Key West in the late 1800s, Key lime pie was designated Florida’s official pie by the state legislature in 2006. Its primary ingredients are condensed milk, egg yolks and the juice of the tiny yellow Key lime, with the filling typically nestled in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream or meringue.

Events begin Thursday, July 1, with a 5-7 p.m. champagne reception at Key West’s historic Curry Mansion at 511 Caroline St., renowned as the pie’s actual birthplace. Attendees can meet Sloan and purchase autographed cookbooks during the event.

Key Lime Pie Eating ContestThe festival’s undisputed highlight is the World Key Lime Pie Eating Championship set for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 4, at the oceanfront Southernmost Beach Cafe at 1405 Duval St. After donning safety goggles, entrants must attempt to devour an entire 9-inch pie, topped with mountains of whipped cream, faster than the competition — without using their hands.

Gravity’s effects on the creamy pie are to be tested Saturday, July 3, in a quirky competition dubbed the Key Lime Pie Drop. Entrants are tasked with dropping miniature pies from atop the Key West Lighthouse, 938 Whitehead St. — without damaging the luscious confection.

Other festival attractions include the Key Lime Cocktail Sip & Stroll, where participants can sample Key lime martinis, margaritas and other limey libations; the Key Lime Pie Hop, whose participants stroll to multiple locations to savor variations on the famed dessert; and the Key Lime Scavenger Hunt, an offbeat family-friendly challenge for teams of two to five people.

Events conclude Monday, July 5, following a delectable Key lime brunch.
Event information, registration and pricing:

Source: Key Lime Pie to Headline July 1-5 Festival in Key West | Florida Keys Newsroom

Making Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is an American dessert pie made of Key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. It may be served with no topping, topped with a meringue topping made from the egg whites, or with whipped cream; it may be cooked in a pie crust, graham cracker crust, or no crust. The dish is named after the small Key limes, which are more aromatic than the common Persian limes, and which have yellow, not green, juice. The filling in a Key lime pie is also yellow, largely because of the egg yolks.

The filling is made by simply mixing the ingredients without cooking: the proteins of the egg yolks and condensed milk and the acidic lime juice curdle, thickening the mixture without baking. Today, key lime pies are usually baked to pasteurize the eggs and thicken the filling further.

Key Lime Pie History

Key lime pie is probably derived from the “Magic Lemon Cream Pie” published in a promotional brochure by Borden, a producer of condensed milk, in 1931.[4] The recipe is attributed to Borden’s fictional spokesperson, Jane Ellison, and includes condensed milk, lemon juice and rind, and egg yolks. It is covered with meringue, baked, and served cold.[5] According to the pastry chef Stella Parks, users of the recipe altered it with local ingredients; she describes it as a “a stunning reminder of how deeply America’s traditions are shaped by advertising”.[4]

A “Tropical Lime Chiffon Pie”, using condensed milk and egg yolks, is documented in a 1933 Miami newspaper article. An “icebox lime pie”, was mentioned as a specialty of the Florida Keys in 1935. and a recipe under the name “Key Lime Pie” was published in 1940.

No earlier solid sources are known, despite appeals to the public. A 1927 Key West Women’s Club cookbook does not mention the recipe. A 1926 restaurant menu includes “lime pie”, but it is unclear what it was. Various accounts claim that it was known earlier, but none were recorded before 1933. A widely-reported story claims that William Curry’s cook Aunt Sally invented it in the late 19th century. But there is no evidence for this, and the oldest version of this story dates to only 1995, in promotional materials for a Bed and Breakfast in Curry’s former house.

It was in the 1950s that Key lime pie was promoted as Florida’s “most famous treat” and in 1987 as “the greatest of all regional American desserts.

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