During our visit to the farmers’ market of San Miguelito, we came upon a delicious fruit which Panamanians love. In Panama we call this fruit mamones or mamoncillos. The scientific name is “Melicoccus Bijugatus”.
The fruit clusters are branched, compact and heavy with nearly round, green fruits tipped with a small protrusion, and suggesting at first glance small unripe limes, but there the resemblance ends. The skin is smooth, thin but leathery and brittle.
The glistening pulp (aril) is salmon-colored or yellowish, translucent, gelatinous, juicy but very scant and somewhat fibrous, usually clinging tenaciously to the seed. When fully ripe, the pulp is pleasantly acid-sweet, but if unripe, acidity predominates.
In most fruits there is a single, large, yellowish-white, hard-shelled seed, while some have two hemispherical seeds. The kernel is white, crisp, starchy, and astringent.
Call them what you will, mamones, mamoncillos, honey berries, Spanish limes, genips or quenepas, this tropical fruit is one-of-a-kind. It has an outer shell one removes to reveal a sweet grapelike seed to suck on like a newborn baby.
It is related to lychee nuts, since they have a similarly leathery shell, soft, slimy flesh and a large and round sweet seed. The flesh is a peachy or pinky color and delicious to savor. They are very popular in Latin America in countries such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Panama.
The seed can be roasted in a microwave after sucking the juice outer covering of the pinkish-color seed. I understand in Puerto Rico, the seed without the shell is added to local rum. After fermenting for five days, it’s called “bili”, a popular drink during the holidays and special festivals.
I took a couple of photographs of these funny looking green cherries which I found at a farmers’ market at San Miguelito. Here we go.
Please return tomorrow, for more pictures of our visit to a street market in Panama City, Panama. Good Day.