Monday, April 19, 2010

Additional Notes on Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie

The Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie was delightful. I couldn't distinguish any difference in flavor as a result of using some lime juice and the taste was plenty citrus-infused. Also, no one got sick, so the egg yolks were fine. Next time I make this pie, I'll use the 9-inch pie plate instead of the 10-inch. That way I can heap the meringue on top more obnoxiously.

In an attempt to simplify my life and pie and avoid using unnecessary processed ingredients, I did some research on cream of tartar before deciding to go out and buy some since I didn't have any on hand. I have made this pie without cream of tartar before, but admittedly the meringue did not come out as fluffy or creamy. Regardless, if you make this pie with or without cream of tartar, expect that some little liquid blobs will start to separate out of the meringue after a day or two. I think it's liquid sugar, but don't hold me to that. If you look closely at the top of the pie slice in the photo, you can see a few pools.

According to, cream of tartar is the culinary name for potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, a byproduct of winemaking. Crystals form during the fermentation of grape juice or on the underside of a cork in wine bottles that have been stored at temperatures below 50 F. In its crude form, cream of tartar is referred to as "beeswing". The processed cream of tartar is a white, odorless, acidic powder that is often used to stabilize egg whites, prevent the crystallization of sweet syrups, or reduce the discoloration of boiled vegetables. It can also be combined with baking soda to create baking powder or with potassium chloride to create salt substitutes.

I feel it is also necessary to comment on cornstarch. I generally avoid using processed forms of corn (high-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup being high on the list), and plan to phase out my use of cornstarch once my current box is finished. A friend of mine said she uses arrowroot starch instead, so I'll give that a try. If it works as well in making Chinese food (my husband's specialty), I will switch permanently. Some of you may be wondering what to do about the corn syrup called for in some pies. I substitute any other naturally sweet syrup instead. I use molasses most often, but if a recipe calls for a large amount of corn syrup, I will probably use a combination of molasses and maple syrup or honey. Large amounts of molasses carry a VERY strong flavor. I haven't tried using sweet sorghum syrup yet, though I just picked some local organic Wisconsin stuff up at the farmer's market this past weekend. It is said to be comparable to molasses, so I look forward to trying it. I'll let you know how it is.

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