Spanish Lime or Genip


Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) belongs to the soapberry family sapindaceae and despite the name it is not connected at all to a lime (rutaceae citrus family). It actually got the name as they resemble small unripe limes.

Become of the large number of countries that eat the fruit it has various others names including genip, guinep, genipe, ginepa, quenepa, quenepe, chenet, canepa, mamon, limoncillo, skinip or mamoncillo.

Spanish Lime


The fruit is about the size of an olive with harder skin that inside have a jelly like consistency. Not only is the pulp edible but also the large seed too. Its tangy creamy pulp ranges from yellow to orange and even pink.

Its flavour profile can go from sweet to sour depending how ripe the fruit is and is best compared to a cross between a lychee and lime. Its rigid tight skin is very reminiscent of the lychee and it can be opened with the teeth, while its appearance and colour are lime like. 

The spanish word for Spanish Lime mamoncillo literally means ‘to suck’ and illustrates exactly how to eat the fruit. The pulp needs to be sucked off the large seed. Quite literally!


The fruit is full of fibre (lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation), vitamin A that boosts your immune system, vitamin C which is a good antioxidant, calcium that keep bones and teeth strong as well as phosphorus that is important for digestion and regulating hormones. Added to this it is low in fat, calories and cholesterol free. Overall a really healthy fruit!


The Spanish lime should really be eaten ripe as they can contain toxins if not prepared properly unripe. By removing the outer skin and then sucking the pulp off the seed this maximises the amount of fruit you get to eat. Using anything other than your teeth just gets complicated.



If you don’t fancy eating the spanish lime fresh it can be peeled and then boiled to produce a sauce, jam or jelly. It also can be soaked in rum and sugar to produce the liqueur bili.

The large seed of the fruit is also edible and can be cooked. In South America roast Spanish lime (Quenepa) seeds are used as a substitute for cassava flour when baking.


In terms of its flavour, annatto goes well with other ingredients that can benefit from an enhancement. Proteins and carbohydrates like rice, chicken, pork, shrimp and plantain can really get a kick from annatto. Combining  this with its interesting colour annatto has found its way into numerous dishes. Smokey/nutty ingredients like cheese, dried chilis, garlic and peanuts pair especially well with it.


  • With the sweeter variety the Spanish lime can be eaten when its ripe.
  • The sour varieties often need some salt, sugar or other ingredient like chili to balance out the flavour profile.


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