“In the South, I think, food mirrors our lives. When I was growing up, no matter what you were grieving or celebrating, my mama would be at the door with a cake or a pie.” – Kimberly Schlapman
Before I go too much further I am going to post my mother’s Ice Box Lemon Pie. Many people (well, some people) have asked for this recipe and I am happy to oblige.
Ice Box Lemon Pie is a staple in the south, especially in the hotter months. You can, of course, purchase a lemon meringue pie at any grocery store and most fast food chains, but once you’ve tasted this version, made from scratch, all store bought versions will pale in comparison. It is commonly kept refrigerated and is served cold as a refreshing ending to any meal. It was commonly referred to as “lemon icebox pie” because you chilled it in the ice box and the name stuck.
In the days before electricity was commonly available, most people had an ice box. My grandmother called her refrigerator an “ice box” throughout her life. Wooden ice boxes were predecessors of refrigerators. The earliest versions date back to around 1830. Made from hardwood such as oak or walnut, ice boxes looked similar to a large dresser. Hollow walls were lined with zinc or tin and packed with insulating materials such as flax straw fiber, sawdust, seaweed, cork, mineral wool or charcoal. There were several storage compartments inside, including the ice compartment, which had a drainage hole. Melted ice water was collected in a catch pan or holding tank that would need to be emptied on a daily basis. An iceman delivered ice to patrons in his horse and buggy every morning.
Similar to key lime pie, this dessert shares common ingredients with its cousin. If you’re tempted to skimp on the fresh-squeezed juice and use store bought instead, don’t.
Freshness counts big with the flavor of this pie. There is nothing original about this recipe so I can’t claim creative rights. It came directly from my mother, but I’m sure every mother and grandmother in the south have a similar recipe. My children called my mother Mimi, hence the name I am using for the pie.
Here is the actual recipe card that my mother passed on to Karel, probably in the early 1970’s. You can see it has been well used.