Driving in the summertime on the island, you will find pockets of children newly freed from the burdens of their school-year demands waving bunches of emerald green fruits on stems knotted together. From a distance, your summer-trained eyes can already detect what sweet treat is at the end of this call. It’s not uncommon to see cars veer off the road to the sound of feet scurrying across the road to sell a rustic bouquet of Kenep, or Genip, or Spanish Lime or whatever name you call this fruit by … I simply call it delicious!
Trying to describe the Kenep to someone who has never had the pleasure of tasting one is a little difficult. It is a member of the Soapberry Family and a cousin of the Litchi fruit. The scent is clean with light citrus notes. The outside of this fruit is thinly guarded by a delicate and yielding dark green shell. When you break it open, the light amber-gold seed inside splashes some of its juicy gelatinous tartness–a sigh and a grin are usually closely followed. Keneps are sweet and extremely sour all at the same time. But they are a refreshing pop of flavor on a warm day, and an awesome reminder of all things sunshine in the dying days of summer.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy the Kenep is on its own. Its flavor simply means summer to me. However, I also adore the taste of it in a jelly made locally by one of my favorite people, June Archibald. June uses local fruits to create amazing Jellies. A coco-dusted cup of cappuccino, some of my homemade croissants, and June’s seasonal Kenep jelly… heaven! As an aside, the red jelly in the photo below is actually made from sorrel another island flavor.
The island is bursting with foods kissed by sunshine. The kenep is definitely on my all-time favorite lists. If you’ve never tried it, it’s definitely worth scouring your local West Indian markets for, or maybe just taking a trip to this little Rock in the summertime to try one fresh off the tree for yourself!