This small fruit varies in taste- sweet, tangy, and stainy- that has a similar appearance as lychee which Jamaicans refer to as Chinese guinep.
However, the Jamaican guinep fruit has a smooth green color skin and light yellow to an orange pulp. But many people normally ask what’s the hype about Jamaican guinep?
Where is it grown? What are its benefits? How and where can I get it? Is it near me? How is it eaten? When is guinep season?
Can I plant the tree? Alias? And many more, but fret not, in this article you will find out all the details you need.
What Is Jamaican Guinep?
Jamaica is the first place I had an encounter with this sweet jelly-like fruit, where its exterior is a smooth green skin shaped like an olive but a little bigger.
This exotic seasonal fruit is grown in a tropical climate where its harvest is most copious in the summer (June- August). The fruit is mostly grown in the Caribbean, Africa, Florida, and other locations with a warm climate like South and Central America, Hawaii The Philippines, and even Israel!
The guinep fruit grows as clusters containing twelve or more on one stem on a tree called mamoncillo.
Here’s a fun fact it’s a part of the Sapindaceae family, where its scientific name- Melicoccus bijugatus- can be accredited to Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin (a scientist that studied botany, chemistry, and medicine) in 1760.
Other Names For Guinep
Unsurprisingly, with a probability of 0.95, the name of the Jamaican guinep fruit differs in each country it is grown. For example, mamoncillo in Cuba, ackee in Barbados, and quenepa in Puerto Rico.
Other aliases include Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus, honey berry, genip, genipe, ginepa, kenèp, quenepe, quenette, chenet, talpa jocote, mamón, limoncillo, canepa, skinip, kinnip and huaya.
The Jamaican Guinep Tree/Leaves/Seeds
Not just the fruit is nutritious but the leaves are too! The guinep tree leaves can be boiled or brewed as a tea. The tea is good for intestinal issues like peptic ulcers and stomach aches.
So, sweeten with a little honey or sugar and you’re good to go! The tree is planted as a sucker/seed with fertilizers which takes up to five to ten years before it produces fruits.
Keep tending to the plant with fertilizer and manure and before you know it, bam! You have a healthy guinep tree. Don’t forget to plant the guinep seed or sucker away from other plants, giving it enough space to grow and prune. However, remember that it was stated earlier it is grown in a warm or tropical climate? This is because the fruit tree cannot withstand low freezing temperature (below 25 F) which is damaged through frost.
But an amazing factor or pro is that it is very drought- resistant for its plants over five years. But be aware of those garden pests! Did you know that guinep seeds are edible?
High five if you read and recalled when it was stated above! Yes, in many countries the seeds are roasted or baked and are eaten in the form of nuts or in other baking products. A quick tip is roasting the seeds then adding honey will assist with diarrhea and even helps with weight loss!
Where Can I Buy Guinep Fruit?
A frequently asked question which I’m happy to assist with. You can purchase this delectable and addictive fruit in your local markets or supermarkets during its harvest season.
You can also try a reputable online store that sells them when they are in season, where the seeds are available too. Purchases of these fruits are more accessible to those who are living in a warm climate.
A quick ‘where to buy guinep?’, ‘guinep near me’ or ‘where to buy guinep near me?’ in a google search will assist you too.
How Do You Eat A Guinep Fruit?
Many Jamaicans or other Caribbean citizens break the shell-like green exterior with their teeth! Creative yes, but don’t forget to wash the fruit first.
You can also tear the shell open with your fingers but be careful, this fruit is stainy so keep away from your clothes while breaking the shell and eating it.
Once the green shell is removed, suck gently to remove the honey-like pulp then discard its seed, duly note, however, it is optional to chew rather than suck.
You can even make a nice savory drink with the pulp after removing the seeds.
WARNING this fruit is haphazard to children while eating! The seeds can be slippery for young children to control which may result in choking.
A recommendation is to remove the pulp from the seed before giving them to eat or avoid giving it to children under 15 years of age. After you are finished eating, don’t forget to wash your hands.
A quick tip is to NEVER eat unripe guineps, as the seeds contain a lot of toxins like cyanogenic glycoside that converts to hydrogen cyanide (a poisonous substance which blocks oxygen to vital organ systems) after consumption. Bon Appetit!
Nutritional Benefits Of Guinep
Now the moment that many of you have been waiting for! Let’s dive in on the nutrients and benefits this fruit provides.
- High in Vitamin A and C (boosts the immune system, where Vitamin A reduces the formation of urinary stones)
- High levels of tryptophan and lysine (reduces blood pressure due to these amino acids present but can also be a ‘sleep tranquilizer’ and mood stabilizer that helps to prevent anxiety, depression, and insomnia due to the production of serotonin caused by tryptophan. Serotonin also assists with pain)
- High in calcium (fortify teeth and bones)
- A good source for phosphorus (regulates hormones and helps in digestion)
- Produces fiber and ferulic acid (assists with constipation and intestinal issues as well as lowering cholesterol).
- Phenolic compounds are present which act as antioxidants that prevent cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
- Good source of iron (prevents anemia, where it increases the production of hemoglobin)
- Low in fat and calories (aids in weight loss)
Other Fruits To Enjoy
Did you know that guinep has been used to treat herpes and cold sores due to the L-lysine amino acid component? Just thinking about all these nutritious values and the succulent taste of guinep makes me want to purchase some near me when it’s summer again.
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I grew up in Connecticut, so it took me until adulthood and meeting my ex-husband, to first discover West Indian foods. It’s interesting how the languages differ down there, even when people all speak English. I know that Puerto Ricans call that fruit guinep, as Jamaicans do, but Bajans (Barbadians) call them Ackee. I know – to Jamaicans – that’s the fruit always sold canned up here for safety, and which is a good vegan substitute for scrambled eggs and other things.
I just found these little guys at my local farmers market in Boston. A zillion years ago I used to just grab them off trees while I was living in St Thomas. I’ve been looking for them since.
Pam that’s a great find, they are really a great treat when they are sweet.
This was a good read. Thank you for sharing our Caribbean fruits
Melissa, you are welcome.
How I love these fruits. I remembered them growing up in Haiti. I used to throw rocks are the “kénèp” trees to get them. This post brought back some memories.
That’s so cool, I’m so happy it brought back happy memories.Thank you for your feedback.
Oh wow. I have heard so much about this. This sounds delicious. Thank you so much for creating this post.
You are welcome Mirielle, my pleasure!
OMG I absolutely love this in Haiti. You are bringing me back home with this. Thank you so much for this post.
Ahh, I’m so happy to bring back good memories!