I picked up a 16-ounce package of key limes at Central Market. Not wanting to make the ubiquitous key lime pie, I opted instead to candy the key limes for use in various recipes, starting with panna cotta. With this recipe, you’ll also end up with a quart of key lime syrup, which can be used in salad dressings, cocktails, and drizzled over fresh fruit.
16 ounces key limes, cut into thin wheels (seeds discarded; about 6 slices per lime)
5 cups warm water
2-1/2 cups organic sugar
4 dried keffir lime leafs or 1 lemongrass shoot
Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lime wheels and keffir leafs; reduce the heat to medium and cook for ten minutes (barely bubbling). Remove from the heat.
Transfer the lime wheels and their syrup to a container and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the keffir leafs. Transfer the lime wheels to a separate container. The syrup itself can be refrigerated for up to one month, and the candied lime wheels can be refrigerated in syrup for for up to one month.
Note: if you can’t use a quart of fresh key lime syrup in a month, freeze the key lime syrup in ice cube trays for later use to chill a cocktail, lemonade, limeade or sparkling water, or thaw out for use in salad dressings, drizzled over fresh fruit or vanilla bean ice cream.