Beyond the Pie: Why Key West is Obsessed with Key Lime

Welcome to Key West, where the turquoise waters meet golden sunsets and the air is filled with the scent of saltwater and citrus. Among the many flavors that define this island, one stands out above the rest – it’s Key Lime, of course. This tiny, tart, and tangy citrus fruit has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike, becoming a beloved symbol of Key West’s culinary heritage.

Beyond the Pie: Why Key West is Obsessed with Key Lime

The Rich History of Key Lime

To appreciate the Key lime obsession, we must look at its rich history in the Florida Keys. Henry Perrine, in the early 1830s, is considered responsible for introducing the lime to the Florida Territory. After its arrival in the Keys, the lime spread to early settlers’ home gardens. By the turn of the century, commercial Key lime groves were recorded. This small, tart fruit quickly adapted to the Keys’ warm climate and became an integral part of the local culture.

The most iconic use of Key limes today is in the famous Key Lime Pie. This beloved dessert, made from Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks, encapsulates the essence of the Keys. The pie’s origins are tied to local legend, with one story crediting its creation to Aunt Sally, a cook for William Curry, one of Florida’s first millionaires. The obsession continues to grow and goes beyond the pie. Photo courtesy of the Key Lime Festival.

A Culinary Treasure

Key Lime isn’t just an ingredient—it’s a culinary treasure infused into Key West cuisine. From savory dishes to sweet treats, Key Lime adds a unique zing that elevates every bite. Imagine savoring a Key Lime-infused dish where the citrusy notes perfectly complement the fresh catch of the day. Or delight in a refreshing Key Lime cocktail, a staple on cocktail menus, offering a zesty twist to your favorite tropical drink. And we can’t forget the dessert of all desserts, Key Lime Pie.

Beyond the Pie: Why Key West is Obsessed with Key Lime 1

Yes, There’s Even a Festival

Yes, there’s even a festival! Key West celebrates this citrus sensation with the Key Lime.

Beyond the Pie: Why Key West is Obsessed with Key Lime 2

Festival, taking place from July 3rd to July 7th. This five-day event is a must-visit for any Key Lime fanatic, especially during the July 4th holiday. Highlights include the Key Lime Cocktail Sip & Stroll, the Key Lime Pie Hop, the World Famous Key Lime Pie Eating Championship taking place at Southernmost Beach Cafe on July 4th, mini-Key Lime pie classes, and a Key Lime Pie drop from the Key West Lighthouse. Plus, there’s JF Haden’s Key Lime Pie Liqueur Battle of the Bartenders event happening at The Marker Key West Harbor Resort on July 6th. View the Key Lime Festival Schedule of Events. Photo courtesy of the Key Lime Festival.

Sip and Savor

Key Lime’s influence extends well beyond desserts. On any given day, you can find Key Lime-flavored dishes and drinks that tantalize your taste buds. Sip a tangy Key Lime Colada like the one pictured above captured by IG: a_travelingfoodie, or Key Lime Margarita poolside at Southernmost Beach Resort or Southernmost Beach Cafe, where the tropical vibes and swaying palm trees enhance the refreshing citrus flavors. Or enjoy a Key Lime-infused dish at Southernmost Beach Cafe, or any restaurant on the island, where the culinary teams craft innovative dishes that highlight this beloved fruit. And don’t miss our tangy sweet treat on a cone at our local ice cream shop.

A Taste of Paradise

No trip to Key West is complete without indulging in the many ways Key Lime can tantalize your senses. From traditional Key Lime Pie to unexpected culinary delights, this tiny fruit packs a punch that’s hard to resist. It’s more than just a flavor – it’s a taste of paradise, capturing the essence of island life in every bite and sip.

What’s your favorite Key Lime treat in Key West? Is it the pie, the cocktails, or a dish you’ve enjoyed at one of our restaurants across the island?

Next time you find yourself wandering the streets of Key West, let your taste buds lead you to the nearest Key Lime delicacy and dive into the obsession, and discover why Key Lime is the heart and zest of Key West. #somolife