Lychee is a tasty tropical fruit that can be eaten at any time of the year. It is a fruit from China and is sometimes spelled litchi or called alligator strawberry. It can grow in some parts of the United States. Usually, you can buy fresh lychee at an Asian market. Under the hard, bumpy husk is soft, white flesh that tastes like a mix of strawberry and watermelon. This flesh covers the fruit’s seed, a hard stone you can’t eat. Lychee can be eaten raw on its own and also goes well in fruit salads, sauces, desserts, and drinks. Before eating or cooking with lychee, you’ll need to know how to choose and peel this small, delicate fruit.
It comes from China, but it can grow in warm places like Florida and Hawaii in the U.S. Because its skin is red and bumpy, lychee is also called “alligator strawberry.” Lychees are 1 1/2 to 2 inches across and round or oval, and their white, opaque flesh smells sweet and floral and tastes the same. Lychee fruit can be eaten on its own, added to tropical fruit salads, or blended into cocktails, juices, smoothies, and desserts.
What is Lychee Fruit?
In Asia, people like the lychee fruit because it has a lot of flesh to peel and is usually eaten by itself. The fruit has three parts: the reddish husk, the white meat, and the brown seed. It is also called a lychee nut. Even though the outside looks tough and leathery, it’s easy to take off with just your fingers. This will show that the inside is white, shiny, and firm, like the inside of a grape.
Lychees are a small fruit with a tough exterior skin and a sweet interior flesh that looks like a peeled grape. The skin must be removed from the lychee before eating it, but the removal method varies depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Peeled and seeded lychees can be served in fruit bowls, stuffed with a sweet filling, or become a component of desserts, including parfaits and ice cream.
Since they can only grow in tropical climates, lychees are often brought in from other places (except Hawaii and some areas of Florida). The busiest times depend on what country they’re from, but most of them come to the U.S. between May and September. If you find fresh lychees, you can keep them for up to a week if you wrap them in a paper towel and put them in a breathable or perforated storage bag ($7, Target).
How to Peel Lychee?
Peel the Lychee
Lychee must be peeled, and the stone and husk must be thrown away. The seed is a little poisonous, and you can only eat the white flesh. Be careful because it is a delicate fruit; work over a bowl to catch any juice.
Before or after peeling, there’s no need to wash lychee. The husk protects the part you eat, and it’s easier to take off when it’s dry.
- Holding one fruit in your hands, use your thumbnail to poke a hole in the rough skin.
- You can peel the skin like an orange; the fruit should come off in a few easy pieces if it is ready.
- The part of the fruit you can eat is the white flesh you can see. If the lychee is unmistakable, has spots, or looks yellow-brown, it is fermenting and should not be eaten. Cut the meat carefully along one side to get to the stone.
- The stone should stay on one side when you open the two pieces, like in an avocado.
- To get rid of the stone, pinch it between your finger and thumb and dig a little bit under it. It should come out quickly, but don’t worry if a little bit of the fruit breaks while you do it.
- You’ll find a soft, light brown membrane part of the pit inside the white flesh. This part is edible, but it’s almost impossible to take it off. If you try, you’ll lose juice and tear too much meat, so it’s best to leave it alone.
Place pitted lychee in a bowl to eat or use in a recipe.
How to Eat Lychee?
Raw lychee fruit is a tasty and refreshing snack in and of itself, but you can do so much more with fresh lychee. Use the fruit as the main attraction on a cheese plate with soft chèvre and cheddar.
Lychee is often mixed in with other tropical fruits in fresh fruit salads. Banana, coconut, mango, passion fruit, and pineapple go well. Lychee is an exciting ingredient to add to green garden salads when used like strawberries. You can also make a tasty breakfast treat by adding lychee and cashews to oatmeal.
Lychee fruit or juice is often used in Asian cooking to make a sweet sauce for savoury dishes. You can add the fruit to a stir-fry with a sweet and sour sauce. People like to eat chicken and fish, and lychee is now used in some homemade barbecue sauce recipes.
Lychee is used in a lot of sweets and drinks. You can blend the fruit into a smoothie or cook it in sweet dishes like this Thai coconut milk dessert. People often make lychee syrup by boiling the fruit with sugar and water. The syrup is a great way to add sweetness to drinks like cocktails, tea, and others. It tastes excellent, drizzled over ice cream or sorbet, too.
Lychees can be used in many desserts where the fruit is a good choice. These fruits can be used to make ice cream and sorbets, which go well with coconut or lime flavours. You can also cut up the lychee and put it in lime gelatin before it sets, so it floats in the finished dessert. You can make cakes, short pieces of bread, and cobblers when baking with lychee.
Lychees that have just been peeled can be eaten by themselves or added to a fruit bowl. A fruit salad with lychee can have a variety of fruits with different flavours that go well together. Blueberries, raspberries, and pineapple go well with the fruit. It’s best not to add watermelon, grapes, or strawberries since the lychees already have these flavours and may make the other fruits taste too strong.
What does it Taste Like?
Different words are used to describe the taste of lychee fruit. Some say it tastes like a strawberry and a watermelon, while others say it tastes like a mix of citrus, rose water, or another floral note. This is because the fruit has a strong, sweet smell.
The lychee has a sweet, slightly floral, and somewhat sour taste. When you bite into it, you’ll get a juicy flavour that tastes like a strawberry or pear with a hint of citrus. Some people also say that the taste is like a rose. Now that you know about lychees look for them at an Asian or international market near you.
If fresh lychees aren’t available, canned lychees will do (which are deliciously frozen or served over ice). You can eat lychee plain, in a cocktail, or even in a savoury salsa, whether they are fresh or in a can.
Lychee Fruit Recipes
Because the fruit has a unique taste, the most common way to eat it is by itself. Ripe lychee adds a burst of juicy sweetness to a fruit salad or green salad. You can also boil lychee with sugar and water to make a simple syrup for drinks (like a martini), ice cream, sorbet, and sweet summer tea. When using lychee nuts, remember that they go well with tropical fruits like mango, coconut, banana, passion fruit, and pineapple.
- Lychee Margarita
- Smoothie with Lychee Fruit
- Thai Banana Lychee Dessert
Where to Buy Lychee?
It can be hard to find fresh lychee fruit. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where lychee grows, you can buy or pick the fruit in June and July, when it is in season. The season can be anywhere from May to September, depending on where the lychee comes from. If not, go to an Asian market near you or buy lychee online that has been vacuum-sealed or canned. You might also find dried lychees, which are complex and crunchy.
If you want to buy fresh lychees or pick them right off the tree, look for ones with bright red skin bigger than an inch in diameter. To see if it’s ready, gently press your thumb on the skin. It should feel a little springy. Ripe lychee should have a bright colour and no soft spots or marks. Lychee fruit doesn’t get any riper after it’s picked, so it has to be sold as soon as possible. The lychee has already gone bad if any fruit is broken, leaks liquid, or smells like it has been fermented.
Because lychee ferments as it ages, it is essential to keep it in the right way. Wrap the fruit in a paper towel and put it in a plastic bag with a zip-top with holes. You can control it in the fridge for up to a week. It would help if you used them quickly to get the most out of their unique taste.
Lychee can be frozen to keep for a longer time. Just put them in a bag with a zip-top, remove any extra air, and put them in the freezer. Even if the skin changes colour, the fruit inside will still taste good. They taste like lychee sorbet when eaten right out of the freezer.
Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is a fruit from Kwangtung and Fukien provinces in southern China. It is in the soapberry family, which is called Sapindaceae. A lychee tree can grow from 30 to 100 feet tall and make clusters of 2 to 20 fruit. The outside of the lychee is red, oval, and about 1 to 2 inches wide. Under the skin of lychee fruit is a thick, white, almost see-through part that covers a seed. Choose fresh, reddish-pink lychee fruit (though browner skins are also perfectly OK to eat).
How easy it is to take the skin off lychee depends on how ripe it is. When lychee is fully mature, the skin is already loose, and you can use your fingernail or a knife to make a small notch at one end. You can open up this hole with your fingers until the fruit inside pops out. If the lychees aren’t as ripe, the skin may need to be cut all the way around and pulled and stretched until it comes off.