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Mar 16, 2010 02:02 PM

Help! Key limes vs. mexican limes vs. regular limes, key lime pie

I've never had Key lime pie but I like lime so I thought I'm going to try to make one.
While thinking about this a week or so ago I checked my usual store and they had "Key Limes: from FL I think.
Today I buy limes but get home and realize its a bag of limes that just say Limes from Mexico.
Now they are smaller than "normal" limes of which I have one which is also from Mexico but I'm not sure they are as small as key limes.

I know ATK has said regular limes will do but I would rather not try that first time out.
My question is - could these be key limes vs. the bigger "persian" limes?
They are definately green while the internet says they are yellow when ripe. But I think the FL ones were green although I think they did have a bit more yellow.

Any lime experts out there?

Any key lime pie experts while I'm at it?

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  1. I would not worry about what kind of limes they are. The recipe is so easy and foolproof that the type of lime, in my opinion, does not make a noticeable difference. I love Key Lime Pie and have made it with whatever lime I could find at the time. Takes longer to juice the key limes because they are so small.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LGD

      Well I think I found my own answer in a "recommended link" Now I have to figure out whether I get redressed and scour the city for real Key Limes or not. Will real limes sweet? since the Key Limes are reputed to be tarter?

      Hmm.. I've read that as an official name for Key limes but now in L.A. I've seen some terrific limes sold as "Mexican limes" that cannot be Key limes - and what is wonderful is that we also see plenty of Key limes here (also grown in Mexico) - the flavor profile is way different. The first Mexican limes I mentioned are, to me, regular limes like Americans think of them but with a little yummier salty bite vs. the bigger traditional "Persian" limes. The Key lime is way more sour and tart and lacks, well, what I think of as primary lime flavor.

      I'd never had limes as tasty as the limes marketed out here as Mexican limes (not Key limes)... just in case anyone is shopping out in L.A., there might be some terminology evolution or regional usage coming into play here. Best take pics with you.

      The way I see them in stores, there are:

      regular Persian limes - often kind of big, puckered at the ends, dimpled skins
      "Mexican limes" that are not Key - smaller, smoother skin, less pucker, softer
      Key limes - smaller yet, like a golf ball or smaller, less consistent green shading (sometimes yellow)

      Linda Whit's post on this thread gets into it a little more:

      And yes I'm sure that what is traditional Key lime, as in the pie tied to the Florida Keys, utilizes what I speak of here as Key limes rather than the (even if possibly routinely misnamed) "Mexican limes" I've had from L.A. stores.

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      1. re: marys1000

        I've had Key Lime Pie made with key limes when eating out. And I've made Key Lime Pie with both key limes and regular limes. The fact is my homemade pie has always been better than anything I've eaten out, no matter what kind of limes I used. Key limes have a slightly different flavour - I wouldn't say it's more tart, exactly. Maybe a harsher bitter edge, which twists the flavour in an interesting way. But the regular limes make a perfectly fine and delicious and absolutely not overly sweet Key Lime Pie. I'd choose any kind of fresh lime over bottled lime juice any day of the week.

        1. re: marys1000

          the "non key" mexican limes you describe sound like waht is often known as a Creole lime (I have no idea to which species it belongs, indeed I may be a hybrid between the two), especially if the limes you are thinking of are much "shinier" (smoother of skin) than the "regualrs". Around here in New York, you often seen them in the loose lime piles in the supermarkets, especially the latin ones (they usually make up about 25% of the piles there, so there are enough to pick them out of the regulars andf still have a decent bagful. from what I understand, they actually were the standard lime grown in south florida until one of the big hurricanes back in the 70's that destoyed most of the lime orchards; when they were re-planted they were mostly re-planted with Persians, which the remaining Creoles almost relict populations (in much the same way that the creoles themselves were replacements for the Key lime trees that were being grown much more widelty until a big hurricane in the 20's.) I'd say that a creole would work for the pile as well as an actual key, though the flavor will be different (to me at least, key limes taste far more like lemons than they do like Persian limes. However a lot of Persians don't have a lot of juice, so you likey need a great deal more of them. And dont even THINK of trying it with either the Palestinian Sweet Lime or the Rangpur/Kaffir lime. The former has basically no acid, so the taste of the juice verges on insipid. And the latter, assuming you could find enogh of them (and would not go broke buying enough to make a pie, has juice that tastes rathe like what you would get if you tossed a whole lime (peel, pith and flesh) in a blender, then filtered it (in otherwords the juice contatins a lot of the oils of the skin)

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          +1 here! I've made key lime pie with small key limes (a total pain to juice!) And I've used Nellie and Joe's. Can't tell the difference. It's my go-to dessert for any occasion. Use the recipe on the back of the bottle = never fail.

        2. I went out and bought 2 bags. Used maybe 5 limes from the second bag.
          So now I have 3/4 of a bag of Key Limes and
          a whole bag of Mexican limes

          What do I do with all these limes?

          1 Reply
          1. re: marys1000

            Juice them and freeze the juice in an ice cube tray, then bag them and save them for next time, when you'll just buy one bag and supplement w/ the frozen cubes.

          2. Make a batch of Margaritas!


            1. IMHO, I would definitely use fresh squeezed regular (persian) limes before using any kind of bottled, preserved, reconstituted mystery juice; great for stripping paint of removing rust but NOT in a food product. Yes, there is a difference between the persian and the "key lime" (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle), and enough to be noticeable, but with the processed and bottled juices, preservatives added, stick with the fresh persians. Good luck!