Strange Fruit (or how I learned to love guinep)

avocado, orange, limes and guinep – all locally grown

There are lots of reasons why I love living in the Caribbean and pretty close to the top of that list is the food.

Every trip to the store is a voyage of discovery.

I feel like Christopher Columbus – he discovered the new world, I discovered guava, mango, guinep, monster avocados and the sweetest pineapples I’ve ever tasted.

It’s very similar when you think about it.

Here’s a short rundown of the fruits I’m enjoying chowing down on, in the spirit of the world’s greatest explorers.

Coconut

hard to extract…but worth it

Ah coconut, the other, other, other white meat.

Having grappled with many coconuts in the years I’ve lived here, I feel extremely confident that I could survive on a deserted island with only palm trees to keep me company.

There’s a knack to prising it open (get a hammer, beat the living daylights out of it til it cracks) and it might take some effort but it’s definitely worth it.

Once you get inside that treasure trove, the meat can be used to make coconut milk, shredded and put in delicious baked goods, blended into a smoothie or simply eaten.

But before you get out the meat, drain out the water.

This is best done with a handy corkscrew. Insert it into one of the ‘eyes’ (three darker spots at the top of the coconut) and proceed as if opening a bottle of red. The ‘eye’ is the weakest part and therefore easy to drill through and make a small hole.

like so

Then you simply pour it into a glass and enjoy the refreshing, healthy beverage.

Coconuts are a veritable superfood.

There are so many benefits I don’t have the space to list them here so read this and get yourself some coconut products, pronto.

Guinep

a dollar for a bag at my local market, or from a roadside vendor

Guineps took me a while to get used to.

For a start, they kind of have the lychee-eyeball-texture thing going on.

And there’s not much to them, you just break the skin and suck them (the seed is quite large so there’s not much meat). Sounds gross, right?

see? an eyeball!

But it’s worth it because they have a delicate sweet flavour and are actually kind of addictive once you get over the texture hurdle.

During guinep season, you’ll often see guys standing by the side of the road selling a bag – which is a pretty good travel snack if you ask me.

As I was informed by the lovely Stephanie via facebook, they’re also called Melicoccus Bijugatus.

Catchy eh?!

Guava

why buy ’em when you can pick ’em?

Funny story. I tried to bake using guava once. Then I realised that the seeds are so miniscule, and so hard, that it’s practically impossible to strain them out.

(if anyone can give me tips on de-seeding, I’d be forever grateful)

The baking project was abandoned but I haven’t given up on guava entirely because they taste so good.

Also they’re rich in Vitamins A and C ( a single guava contains four times the Vit C of an orange), folic acid and potassium.

Mango

mango smoothies rock my world

Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat. Of course I’d eaten mango before I moved here but they are so plentiful in these parts (and so juicy and sweet) that I couldn’t leave them off the list.

Also this is a good chance for a bit of filthy self-promotion – while you’re here, why not check out my pork & mango skewers, mango raspberry cheesecake or spicy mango salsa?

Your turn: Have you ever eaten any of the above? What’s your favourite ‘unusual’ fruit? How the hell do you bake with guava?

*I’m from Ireland, I ended up in the Caribbean. Go figure.

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16 thoughts on “Strange Fruit (or how I learned to love guinep)

  1. mmm, making my mouth water! Most unusual fruit I like, although I haven’t see one for a while, is the custard apple. Bit of a strange texture, but does actually taste like apples and custard… weird as!

  2. I used to live in the Virgin Islands and mango season reminded me of zucchini season in the Midwest of the US where I’m originally from. So, so many mangos. Genips or guineps were everywhere and made a great beach snack, but yeah, they’re definitely weird until you get through the first couple and then they’re totally addictive. Now I live in a high rise in South Florida so I can still get all the great tropical treats, but I have to go to the grocery store for them instead of just the yard.

    As far as guava is concerned I leave it to the professionals.

    The southern most winery in the Continental U.S. is not too far from where I live and they make zero wine out of grapes and all their wine out of tropical fruit. Even avocados. If you ever get to South Florida I would highly recommend a trip to Schnebly (sp?) winery.

  3. Love tropical fruit! It’s just not the same by the time it travels all the way to Washington. So enjoy some of that sweet deliciousness for me too! Have you tried lychees yet? One of my favorite things in Thailand. So yummy!

  4. Guineps are my absolute favorite, and in Colombia and Miami they are called Mamones, or Mamoncillos. In Spanish, to ‘MAMAR” is to suck, hence the name, and the action required to eat this fruit! And guava, well, in Colombia we used to eat them and bake with seeds and all. If you don’t want to pick all the suckers out, you can just scoop the inner seedy part with a spoon and just use the outer part. And mango’s and coconuts? Used to have them in my back yard. Another interesting tip, many many moons ago, coconut milk used to be used instead of a saline drip in very poor areas of Colombia!

  5. I would die for a bag of genips. I can’t find them in California!!! Loved them in Panama back in the 60’s! I can still taste the taste and feel the texture….and the little “pop” when you crack them open…OMG

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