Mamoncillo: A Tangy Tropical Fruit

Ingredient Spotlight

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An unfamiliar fruit is a marvelous treat. Though I may not know what it's supposed to taste like, or even its name, I can never resist the opportunity to try something fresh and new. Such was the case with these mamoncillos

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I stumbled upon clusters of these little green drupes while visiting a Latin American grocery store. Between my broken Spanish and the checkout lady's broken English, I learned that they were "mamones" from El Salvador, to be peeled before eating. So I bought a branch, picked one off, and tore open the thin skin to reveal a succulent salmon-colored pulp. It tasted like a cross between a lychee and a lime — tangy and a little sweet. 

Mamoncillos (Melicoccus bijugatus) are native to Mexico, South and Central America, and the Caribbean and are also known as mamón, mamones, Spanish lime, quenepa, guinep, limoncillo, and a host of other names. They are traditionally eaten out of hand or used to make drinks, desserts, and jellies. The seed is quite big and in many varieties, including the one I tried, the flesh clings to it in such a way that the best way to eat the mamoncillo is to suck on it for awhile, sort of like eating a tropical lemon drop candy. 

Have you ever tried these? How do you use them? 

(Images: Flickr member gnexus licensed under Creative Commons)

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