Chenet (Melicoccus bijugatus) mostly grows in the Caribbean and in parts of South America. Chenet is just one name for this shelled fruit, it also goes by Genip, Quenepe, Mamon, Spanish lime and Guinep, just to mention a few. The Chenet belongs to the Sapindaceae family, and it is believed that this fruit was introduced to the Caribbean in pre-Columbian times. The trees that grow these fruits can grow to be quite tall, like up to 25m and spread widely, so it can be used as a shade providing tree. Chenet trees prefer warmer temperatures to grow well. This tree is usually planted from a seed but some people, like farmers for example who plant on a large scale, would use other methods like airlayering or grafting to grow Chenet trees. Once planted, these trees are slow growing and can take 5-10years or more to fruit. The best conditions for growing these trees are at low elevations under humid, dry conditions. They are very adaptable to different soil types but it’s best to plant them in very fertile high pH soils.
The Chenet fruit taste can vary, some Chenet trees bear sweet fruits and some, even when ready, are still sour to the taste. The Chenet fruit grows in bunches like a local grape of some sorts. To eat this fruit you must bite the shell that covers the pulp covered seed inside, and skin it back. Inside you will be greeted by a bright orange pulp that is juicy in texture. You then put the whole seed in your mouth and suck it until the outer pulp covering is removed and the seed is bare. Something about the barbaric way this fruit must be eaten makes it all the more desirable.
When eating this fruit, be very careful as the juice can stain pretty badly. So you may not want to eat a bunch of Chenet in your favourite blouse or shirt because once juice gets on your clothing, you pretty much have to throw it out.
Chenet is rich in Vitamin C, Iron, Protein, Calcium and Riboflavin. So just from sucking on these balls of juice you can gain essential nutrients for your body. In some cultures this fruit is used to make jam and juice, not sure that is a popular practice here in Trinidad and Tobago but we definitely use it to make a wicked chow.
Another yummy and healthy Caribbean fruit is the Breadfruit!