The guinep (La quenette)
This blog post highlights another tropical fruit you can easily find in Guadeloupe Archipelago from June to September. We are going to find out more about the Melicoccus bijugatus which is the scientific name of the Guinep also known as “(La) quenette” in French. Ackee, Canopi, Genip, Guenepa, Kenepa, Limoncillo, Mamoncillo, Mauco, Quenepe, Skinnip, and Spanish lime are other names of the Guinep depending on the Country/Island it is grown.
Origin & Description
The Guinep tree is native to Northern South America from Colombia to Guyana and has been introduced in Guadeloupe Archipelago in the early-19th Century. Nowadays, the Guinep is cultivated in Central America, Southern Florida, Africa but also in most of Caribbean islands and other tropical areas. The Guinep tree has a large trunk and can reach up to 30 metres high which make it a bit hard to pick the fruit from but fortunately Guinep fruits grow in bunches. The fruit is small, round and green-coloured with rigid outer shell. Inside, the pulp is usually cream or orange-coloured with a sweet flavour covering a large seed. The taste is quite similar to the lychee. Guineps must be fully ripened if you want to consume them otherwise they contain toxins.
There are several ways to enjoy the Guinep. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, the most common ways are eating them fresh or by making delicious syrups to mix with our traditional rums. To eat them fresh, you will need to suck the pulp off from the seed where it is well attached. You can also enjoy them as a fresh juice or a jam. In South America, roast Guinep seeds are used as a substitute for cassava flour for baking. In fact, the large seed can be eaten roasted like other seeds and nuts. If you have intestinal problems, you can alternatively boil the leaves to make a great tea.
Nutrient content and Health benefits
The Guinep is very nutritious and possesses a large amount of calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin C along with the amino acids tryptophan and lysine. The fruit is full of fibre which is excellent to lower cholesterol and prevent constipation. Furthermore, the Guinep has indications for heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, asthma and is good to strengthen teeth and bones as well as preventing cancer.
In Guadeloupe Archipelago, even though it is possible to find the Guinep on markets during the entire season, they are also sold by vendors on the streets.
CAUTION: Do not let young children eat Guineps because they can accidentally swallow the seed as it is the perfect size for them to choke on. Also, be extra careful when eating them as the stain can be very strong and ruin your clothes. Other than that, don’t miss it out if you are lucky enough to visit the archipelago during the appropriate season.