Turks & Caicos Local Fruits: Kinnip / Guinep
Melicoccus bijugatus, commonly called Spanish lime, is a fruit that grows throughout the Caribbean, Central America and some parts of South America.
This fruit goes by many names, genip, guinep, kenèp, honeyberry, quenepe, chenet, limoncillo, skinip, kinnip, huaya, or mamoncillo, to name a few. This tree is in the soapberry family and in the Turks and Caicos its peak season is in the summer between the months of June to August.
The locals here call them Kinnip or Guinep; they are a small little fruit that grows in clusters, has a green outer shell and is a little larger than an olive and contains amino acids which can help to lower blood sugar levels. Once open you would see the fruit in the inside that has a beautiful orange color, it has a large seed and only a thin layer of pulp.
With it’s sweet and tangy combination of flavor the fruit definitely makes a perfect travel and nutritious snack and if you're lucky you will find a sweet bunch. Honestly there is no guarantee way to tell if the tree would bear fruit that's sour or sweet, you basically have to taste it in order to find out.
Eat only ripe Kinnips/guineps, otherwise they may be toxic. The fruit should only be given to children with caution/supervision because of the possibility of choking on the large seed.
When picking Kinnips/Guineps usually most of them are similar in size and some would be a little bit bigger then most. The ones that are bigger usually has 2 inside, which we like to refer to as twins because the seed actually splits into two.
How would you eat a kinnip/guinep? Like a candy. Because the seed is huge and there is only a little bit of pulp surrounding it. You would crack the outer shell with your teeth and then suck the pulp until its just the seed and then discard it.
Here are some benefits to grab a bunch the next time you see them and can make a good habit.
Kinnips/Guineps are a low fat/low calorie food that’s basically cholesterol free; with only 58 calories per serving, they make a great snack choice.
They contain amino acids which can help to lower blood sugar levels and also contain vitamins A and C, which are excellent for boosting the immune system; vitamin A also helps to prevent the formation of urinary stones.
The fruit contains fiber, which is great for preventing constipation and lowering cholesterol, calcium which is a great mineral for strengthening bones and teeth.
Kinnips/Guineps also contain important antioxidants (Phenolic Compounds) that can help to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes.
They contain phosphorus, a mineral important for digestion and regulating hormones and a large amount of tryptophan, which is important for producing serotonin, feel-good emotions and good sleep.
The seeds are edible and in some cultures are roasted and used to help with stemming diarrhea; the leaves can also be boiled and taken as tea for this same intestinal issue.
The pulp of the kinnip/guinep fruit can also be made into a refreshing juice, a jam, sauce, and are also used in desserts; something I have yet to master.
Kinnips/Guineps are very affordable and can be free if you have your own tree growing in your yard, or have a friendly and kind neighbor. If you know what you are looking for you can find these trees throughout the country. Not brave enough to try and get them yourself? no worries. During the season you will find local people selling them along the beach in Grace Bay or in some local stores.
Until next time