How Long Can You Store Key Lime Pie On The Counter?

Bursting with acidic lime notes and creamy custard-like textures, Key lime pie is a quintessential dessert for holidays, parties, and summertime events. With the right recipe, it's also considered easy to make as the baking time is short and the filling only requires a few ingredients such as egg yolks, limes, and sweetened condensed milk.

In terms of its history, the origin of the Key lime pie has somewhat of an aura of mystery surrounding it. According to Flamingo Magazine, the pie traces its roots back Key West, Florida where early 19th century sponge fishermen would make a rudimentary version in order to help prevent scurvy while at sea. Historian David Sloan wrote in an article featured in Keys Weekly that the person who perfected the Key lime pie recipe that we know today was Sarah Jane Lowe Curry, nicknamed "Aunt Sally." She was a Bahamian woman and the daughter-in-law of Florida's first millionaire, William Joseph Curry. While Sloan asserts that Curry was, in fact, "Aunt Sally," the definitive identity of this person has not yet been entirely proven.

Today, this is a treat enjoyed at parties and summertime events. When it comes to serving such a thing of beauty, one may wonder if it's safe to leave the pie out on the counter for an extended period of time. And the answer may be much shorter than you think.

Follow these USDA guidelines

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), certain strains of bacteria are more susceptible to rapid growth when foods are left out at room temperature for too long. Bacteria loves to grow between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, which is referred to as the "Danger Zone." Because of this, you should only keep food, including Key lime pie, on the counter for up to two hours. If it's particularly warm with a temperature that is at or over 90 degrees F, then that timeframe drops to one hour.

If your Key lime pie has been sitting out on the counter for over two hours (or for over an hour in 90 degrees F temperatures), throw it away to eliminate the possibility of foodborne illness, per guidance on food safety from the USDA. As an added safety measure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests placing desserts on a bed of ice and replacing the ice as needed in order to help maintain cooler temperatures. The best way to do this is by filling a deep pan with ice and then placing the pie in a shallow container on top of the ice.

So the next time that you're looking to serve a dessert like Key lime pie, be sure to follow the above measures in order to ensure a safe and delicious treat for you and your guests.