“Most natural product research is market-driven and thus many plant species are overlooked for their health value due to lack of financial incentives. This may explain the limited information available about the health effects of the edible fruit species Melicoccus bijugatus.” (1)
An exotic tropical fruit known by many names, the quenepa is an interesting, flavorful, fantastically nutritious little treat.
Whether you call it Spanish lime, ackee, genipe, limoncillo, mamoncillo, honeyberry, or any of its other monikers, the yellow/orange pulpy fruit tastes a bit like a cross between a lime and a lychee.
It’s not a citrus fruit as it may sound but—like citrus—it grows naturally in the tropics—mostly in the Caribbean and South America.
Taste of the Tropics
The flavor of the quenepa can range from sweet to sour. The sour variety is often eaten with chili pepper, lime, and salt. The sweet is eaten just as it is, biting through the outer shell and sucking out the succulent inside—somewhat like a lychee.
The nutrition of the quenepa is impressive, with a wide range of vitamins (A, B complex, and C), minerals (calcium, phosphorus, and iron), proteins, fatty and amino acids (tryptophan and lysine the most notable), phytonutrients, and fiber.
Roasted seeds contain antioxidants and antifungal properties and have been used to grind into flour and mixed with water to treat diarrhea.
Fruit and pulp are antibacterial and antifungal and known to:
- aid digestion
- reduce high blood pressure
- relieve asthma and other respiratory ailments – chronic asthma is often accompanied by electrolyte deficiencies, of which phosphorus is one (2)
- treat constipation
- reduce cholesterol levels
- moderate blood sugar levels
- mitigate herpes labialis and simplex via high lysine content (3, 4)
- induce sleep vis à vis high tryptophan content (tryptophan is necessary for the production of serotonin, a hormone that regulates sleep)
This nutrient-packed fruit is an ace for supporting every part of your body. Quenepa fruits can be eaten as-is, juiced, or made into a luscious jam.
- 2 pounds quenepas, peeled
- 1 inch piece ginger, blended and strained
- 1 quart water
- 1 lime, juiced
- Honey to taste (unpasteurized, unfiltered, local)
- Boil the water while you remove the quenapas’ skin and place them into a large bowl.
- Pour boiling water over the fruit and leave for 20 minutes or until cool.
- Using your hands, rub the pulp from the seeds, massaging all the fruits to get the flesh and juice released in the water.
- Strain the mixture and add the lime juice. Sweeten to taste. Store in the refrigerator.
2 12-ounce glass jars, clean and sterilized
- 1 pound quenepas, peeled
- 16 ounces water
- 1 ½ cups sugar (coconut palm or another raw sugar—avoid white refined sugar)
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and add sugar, lime zest, and cinnamon. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat.
- Add quenepas and allow to simmer 25 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and pour the hot jam into the jars. Secure a lid onto each jar and turn upside down until completely cool. Store in the refrigerator.
Enjoy the sunny, healthful flavor of the quenepa.