Key Lime Extraction: A Culinary Adventure into the World of Tiny Citrus Wonders

citrus extracts key limes on cutting board - Culinary Solvent

Key limes, often synonymous with the famous Key Lime Pie, are prized for their unique flavor profile that sets them apart from their larger lime counterparts. In this post, we'll explore how to create an exquisite Key lime extract using fresh Key limes and 200 proof food grade alcohol. We will cover everything from understanding what makes Key limes special, to selecting the best fruits, and storing your homemade extract. Plus, we'll suggest ways to use your homemade Key lime extract in your culinary masterpieces.

Key Limes: The Tiny Powerhouses of Flavor

Key limes, also known as Mexican or West Indian limes, are significantly smaller than regular limes, with a diameter of just one to two inches. They have a thinner, more aromatic rind and a distinctive, tart flavor with floral undertones. Their high acidity and strong aroma make them a preferred choice for many chefs and mixologists.

Selecting Key Limes for Your Extract

When choosing Key limes, look for fruits that are heavy for their size with a vibrant, glossy skin. Avoid limes with any signs of shriveling or discoloration. Remember, organic Key limes are best for making extracts to minimize potential pesticide residues.

Homemade Key Lime Extract Recipe


  • Zest of 2 fresh Key limes
  • 2 fl oz of 200 proof food grade alcohol


  1. Clean the Key limes thoroughly and pat dry.
  2. Use a microplane or a serrated vegetable peeler to zest the limes, taking care not to include the bitter white pith.
  3. Transfer the zest to a clean, dry jar.
  4. Pour the 200 proof food grade alcohol over the zest, ensuring it's completely submerged.
  5. Secure the lid, give it a gentle shake, and store the jar in a cool, dark place for about 4 weeks. Shake the jar every few days.
  6. After 4 weeks, strain the extract into a clean bottle, discarding the zest. Your homemade Key lime extract is ready!

Storing Your Key Lime Extract

Keep your homemade Key lime extract in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight. Make sure the bottle is tightly sealed to prevent evaporation and maintain the potency of the extract.

Suggested Uses for Homemade Key Lime Extract

Your homemade Key lime extract can elevate various dishes with its vibrant, tart flavor. It's perfect for baking, adding a unique tang to cakes, cookies, and of course, Key Lime Pie. It's also excellent in marinades, salad dressings, and tropical cocktails. The possibilities are endless!

Now, armed with the knowledge and a simple recipe, it's time to embark on your own Key lime extraction journey!

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