Mamoncillo, Quenepa, Ginep

Cameron calls the fruit guy on the corner of Spring and Sixth Avenue our porno fruit guy. He has signs that have adjectives on them like “extra big size cherries”, “beautiful nectarines”, “sweet beautiful pineapple” and my favorite, “all kind sweet apple”.

I’ve bought cherries and bananas from him before. Today I walked by and saw these green little things. I asked him what they were and he told me they were quenepas and that they are “sweet and sawah.” (I love this guy!) This Puerto Rican girl sitting on a stoop came up to tell me they are from Puerto Rico and showed me how to eat them: you take a small bite to crack the leathery green skin, suck the juice, peel off completely and pop the plum in your mouth. You basically suck it until it’s dry. They are a little sweet and a little tart at the same time. After a few of them, you get a cotton-feel in your mouth because of the fuzzy texture of the fruit’s flesh.

They’re known in the Caribbean as mamoncillo, or mamon, which is also an obscene word. (You’re going to have to email me to find out what it means.) This Jamaican girl from work calls them ginep. She said they grow all-year round in Jamaica although this is the first time I’ve seen them in New York City. According to Caribbean folk wisdom, girls learn the art of kissing by eating the sweet flesh of this fruit. (More than just kissing, I bet.) In Ecuador, my friend Vanessa told me, you eat them with salt.

I’ve saved some of the seeds to dry them and I’ll be roasting them over the weekend. Tune in next week for the results!

So I put the dried seeds on a baking sheet and roasted them while I read The Times on Sunday morning. I remembered to take them out as soon as my mother asked about the funny smell in the kitchen. Thankfully, I didn’t burn them completely. When they were cool enough to handle, I cracked a few using a nutcracker. The quenepa seed meat was surprisingly tender, just like chestnuts. They were a pretty good snack considering they were spat out by co-workers. Now I feel like I have to tell the fruit guy that the little fruits make good tender, nuts.

27 thoughts on “Mamoncillo, Quenepa, Ginep”

  • 1
    ibalik on July 22, 2007

    parang santol?

  • 2
    cia on July 22, 2007

    Oo, pero kasing laki lang ng holen mo.

  • 3
    Crystal on May 4, 2008

    Very interesting report. I never dreamed the seeds contents were edible.
    I was searching online to try and find them (for purchasing) and ended up here. It’s a childhood treat for me. I was born in Jamaica and later moved to Florida. Both (country/state) had guinep, but a year ago I moved to the Nordic country of Sweden, and as you can imagine I’m all lucked out when it comes to picking them up conveniently at the grocery store.
    Being Jamaican not even I knew about that story of the girls learning the ‘art’ of kissing with the fruit. That’s certainly not what I was using them for. This and tamarind (which I’ve managed to find here, although not packaged in the best of ways) are my all time favorites. Guavas are great too… and jack fruit, breadfruit, tropical almonds, mangoes, June plum, sour and sweet sop, sugar cane, star apple, naseberry, maple apple, ackee … I miss Jamaica! (I listed so many so that you could perhaps check them out yourself. The seed of the Jack fruit are excellent when boiled).

  • 4
    Niq on March 20, 2009

    Yummy! Quenepas :) They are very popular in Puerto Rico on the street lights. They are available on summers and sometimes in early autumn. I had never seen anyone roast them or eat the seed. Gosh, mamones sure is a very ugly word.

  • 5
    Jo on August 1, 2009

    I’m from The Bahamas and I love guineps! Some of us eat the seed too, after biting off the casing. I was checking the internet to see whether anyone ever tried roasting them, and there you were. Thanks. I’ll try and probably use them as a salad extra.

  • 6
    andrew on March 13, 2010

    Wow am from Jamaica myself and I now lived in Dallas Texas and I try to find a lot of these fruit as well and its really hard to find them so I only get them when I go back home on Vacation but its really True that Jamaican is all over the world even in Nordic Sweden all the way From Flordia one love and Big up Jamaican all over the world

  • 7
    Alex on July 27, 2010

    I’m from Panama RP (not Panama City, FL). I remember these fruits growing up as a kid in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Every summer the grocer’s would have them available for sale. It was a summer treat that my mom gave to the kids to eat while walking up and down Flatbush Ave. I only new them as mamones. Now i’m in California and can’t find them anywhere. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • 8
    Anne Sutton Brown on August 26, 2010

    I grew up in Jamaica (60 years ago) and I love guineps but can’t find good ones here in Montreal, Canada. As children, we always managed to get guinep stains all over our clothes and the stains were impossible to remove – similar to the stains left by choke cherries that one finds growing wild here in Eastern Canada.

    I’m interested in the roasting of the seeds and wonder whether they are really safe to eat. There are so many seeds that have toxic components in them that I think you should try and find out before eating too many!

  • 9
    Eileen Onions on July 24, 2011

    we are looking to buy quenepas cant find them any where can you help?

  • 10
    cia on July 29, 2011

    Sorry; we just have them readily available from street fruit carts here in NYC.

  • 11
    Dominik on August 3, 2011

    what are the specifics of roasting them? I tried today but not with good result (350 degrees, 20 min). They were taking forever though so I took them out of the oven and boiled them. They cooked but the problem was that they were too soft from the water. I guess letting them dry out or roasting or both would have done the trick then.

  • 12
    cia on August 5, 2011

    Dry the seeds first before you roast them. When ready to roast, spread on a baking sheet and roast at 300º. Try for 10 minutes first and just go from there. I don’t think I roasted them for more than 20 though.

  • 13
    Carlos on October 4, 2011

    Please!!!!!!! I live in central Florida and I fell in love with this fruit when I went I went to St. Thomas someone please tell me where I can find them in central Florida … I’m desperate!!!! Thanks in advance

  • 14
    Noah on February 10, 2012

    Okay everyone!! I went to the Dominican Republic two years ago fell in love with this fruit! I have been searching for these things ever since. Is there a wesbite to by them online? I live in Indiana, so theres not much tropical food around. Wud be gracious if someone got back 2 me! Thanks yall! God bless!

  • 15
    cia on February 13, 2012

    I get a lot of emails asking about where to buy this fruit, but unfortunately, I haven’t found any site online that does. Who wants to make it their next business plan?

  • 16
    KayCee on February 28, 2012

    I lived on St Croix for most of my childhood. I miss this fruit soooo much. And mango, tamarind, jojo and so on. Currently in dfw, the mexican influence does provide some access to mango and tamarind, but they stage of ripeness they pick and prepare these fruit is not the fully ripe (and rolled in sugar ^_^ ) sweet fruit I am used to going outside and picking off the tree. maybe i should go talk to whole foods, central market, and the farmers market vendors to see who could have this available for me (and everyone in the metroplex =^-^= ) thnx for providing a pic, and the roasted seed bit is quite interesting.

  • 17
    Karlton on May 2, 2012

    I would definetly consider making this my next business plan. I am even working on ginep juice. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I need to locate ginep producers to provide reliable sources for inventory. Anyone interested in partnering up with me. Please let me know.

  • 18
    David G on June 25, 2012

    You can find these in Chicago in most Mexican or Puerto Rican stores in the summer for about $2-$3 a pound. Some street venders also carry them which leads me to believe that they can be had pretty easily from a major fruit supplier in a big City.

  • 19
    L. Sanchez on July 20, 2012

    Try this site.. The price is outrageous though. We just got them from a Latin Market in East Boston for $3/lb. My husband was in heaven! He’s from Venezuela and hasn’t had them since he left there 12 years ago. Now I am addicted!!

  • 20
    Craig on July 22, 2012

    You can buy them online, and any other tropical fruit for that matter. Check out

    They sell fresh tropical fruit all grown in south florida. Ships from the grove right to your door.

  • 21
    cia on July 23, 2012

    Should I be making money off this post? It’s summer here in NYC and they are in every fruit stand in the corner!

  • 22
    Mia on August 20, 2012

    Thank you so much for writing this article, and especially to whomever posted the comment about (Craig?)!!

    I spent three years of my adolescence in the Carribean (St. Thomas for 1yr, PR for 2) and completely took for granted the fresh fruit available. My family and friend had bananas, mangos, plantains, coconuts all growing in our backyards, but by far my favorite were our quenepas!!!!! My little sister and I would eat these tiny pulpy seeds for hours. We thought we had died an gone to fruit heaven. We moved from the Carribean in 2000 and it brings tears to our eyes when we think of how we can’t find them anymore. Even the more common fruit (coconut, mango, plantain) isn’t nearly as sweet and certainly not as fresh as when picked from our backyard.

    As an added suggestion – my best friend’s mom would cut a coconut in half, mash up a mango or two with the coconut water, and fill each half with the mango mush and put it in the freezer for a few hours. BEST DESSERT EVER!! And a very healthy treat

  • 23
    Rick jeffries on September 3, 2012

    Saw your comment and I am in the process of ordering some Quenepas (as they’re known in Puerto Rico. Try Irene at or 787.870.7909.
    Good luck

  • 24
    Jessica on September 30, 2012

    Hey Noah! You can find mamoncillo at Saraga International Market in Indianapolis!! They may not always have them in stock, but they do carry them–I just bought some today!

  • 25
    Dave on August 15, 2013

    We are visiting family in Kissimmee, FL. We found quenepas at the Bravo grocery.

  • 26
    Jo on January 18, 2014

    ask the produce manager at any Publix… many folks get them.. they can even punch the name in a computer and give you all the names from different countries for it… lol… I’m back living in Panama and ginnup season is right around the corner.. lucky for me.. my neighbor has a huge tree and doesn’t like them…

  • 27
    Anita on August 17, 2015

    Just tried some for the first time – tasted great; only downside is that they require some work due to the large seed. Here are my observations.

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