Sour Orange Pie Is a Forgotten Southern Classic

Learn about this forgotten Floridian favorite.

Key lime pie is unquestionably Florida’s most popular, best-loved dessert. But there’s another, lesser-known pie from the Sunshine State that is just as creamy, tart, and delicious: sour orange pie. Like its Key lime cousin, a sour orange pie also has a rich filling made with citrus juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks and a simple graham cracker crust. A pile of whipped cream or burnished meringue on top is optional, but helps balance out the puckery flavor.

sour oranges calamondin
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The difference is all in the name—instead of Key limes, a sour orange pie is made with the juice and zest of calamondins, a small yet intensely tangy variety of citrus that is commonly grown (indoors and outdoors) throughout Florida. Also called miniature oranges or sour oranges, calamondins are about the size and shape of Key limes but are bright orange. The trees, which are on the small side, are typically grown for decorative purposes because the fruit is too sour to eat out of hand. (You may even see them sold as ornamental potted houseplants.) But when sweetened up in a pie filling, calamondins can make a lovely dessert.

If you’re lucky enough to have a calamondin tree, make a sour orange pie by substituting the juice in your favorite Key lime pie recipe. If you don’t have access to calamondins, you can still approximate the flavor. Start with a Key lime pie recipe and substitute the fresh lime juice with half fresh lemon juice and half regular fresh orange juice. (You can also add orange and lemon zest if the recipe calls for zest.)

Calamondin juice would also make a great addition or substitution in a lemon meringue pie filling, if you prefer a citrusy pie filling that’s not creamy.

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