The Difference Between A Key Lime & A Regular Lime

What makes a Key lime so special

Fresh off the holiday weekend, we're still in full-on celebration mode, praising and taking advantage of the occasion to eat all of our favorite American foods. One regional specialty we can't get enough of is Key lime pie.

Of course, there's the nagging question that always comes up as we're enjoying this American staple: What the hell is a Key lime and how does it differ from a regular, old lime?

Here are some key differentiators:

① Key limes, also known as Mexican or West Indian limes, are more aromatic, with tarter and more floral juice.

② They are slightly yellow in color and contain more seeds.

③ Though less common in the U.S., they're more prevalent throughout the rest of the world.

④ They were grown commercially in the Florida Keys until a hurricane wiped out many groves in the 1920s, and farmers replaced them with the larger, seedless Persian limes you see more often in the U.S. these days.

The aromatic juice, the key ingredient (sorry, we can't help ourselves) in the famous pie, from Key limes comes with a catch: It take a lot more of these guys to produce the same amount of juice that comes from the more common Persian variety. But fresh Key lime juice is worth the elbow grease, so don't compromise with the bottled stuff. The zest is powerful, too, and you won't get that unless you're buying the real thing.

Now that you know what a Key lime really is and why it's worth your time, learn how to perfect one of the greatest gifts the state of Florida has ever given us.