Learn About Lychees

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is a Lychee?

A lychee, also called an alligator strawberry, is a tree-grown fruit originating from southeastern China.  It has an exterior that is like a cross between a raspberry and a strawberry.  The bumpy skin is pinkish-red and it covers the large white fruit inside.  The fruit is firm and juicy.  There is one large brown seed, often called a pit, in the middle of the fruit.  The flesh of the lychee is aromatic with a soft floral smell.

What Does a Lychee Taste Like?

Lychee has a floral taste with a slight tang.  It is like a cross between a watermelon, a grape, and a strawberry.

Learn About Lychee
A bowl of whole lychees and a lychee half showing off its seed.

How Do You Eat Lychees?

Lychees are typically eaten raw, but they are also enjoyed cooked.  Peel the skin away and remove the seed from the center of the lychee before eating or using.  A normal way to enjoy lychees is to blend them into drinks, smoothies, or smoothie bowls.  Lychees garnish desserts, cook down into jams and preserves, and are even turned into cakes.  Coconut and lychee are a common pairing, such as in coconut milk lychee ice cream, coconut lychee salad, and coconut lychee popsicles.  Lychee is popular in savory dishes such as ceviche, chicken curry, and shrimp dishes.

Where Can You Buy Lychees?

Fresh lychees may be available in the produce section of a well-stocked grocery store from May through the summer.  Canned lychees are usually easier to find and are located in the canned foods section with the other fruits.

How Do You Store Lychees?

Store fresh lychees in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Unopened canned lychees should be stored in a cool, dry place.

Fun Fact About Lychees

Lychees were a delicacy for Chinese emperors and their court.

Did You Know?

While the skin looks like it is difficult to remove, it is easy to peel with your fingers.

Recipes Using Lychees

Lychee Cantaloupe Popsicles

To make these popsicles, place lychee, cantaloupe, lemon juice, water, and honey in the blender. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth, and pour into popsicle molds. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for at least 4 hours, or until it is completely frozen solid.

Lychee Salsa Recipe

This lychee salsa is made with lychee, bell pepper, jalapeño, parsley, onion, olive oil, lime juice, and garlic. Dice all of the ingredients with a knife or using a manual food chopper. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, cover the bowl, and let it sit for at least three hours in the refrigerator. This salsa is great on fish and seafood or even on its own with chips.

Lychee Milkshake

Use lychee to make a healthy, creamy smoothie by blending them with milk, sugar, and ice. Try adding other flavorings like cinnamon or use maple syrup instead of sugar!

Lychee Ginger Granita

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and sliced ginger. Boil the mixture until it becomes thick, like a syrup. In a blender, combine the syrup with lychee fruit and juice. Blend until the mixture is completely combined, and pour it onto a baking sheet or baking dish. Put the dish in the freezer and take it out every 30 minutes, stirring and scraping until the mixture is completely frozen into small crystals.

Lychee and Apple Crumble

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add chopped apples, sugar, lychee, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice. Cook this mixture until the apples cook slightly. In a bowl, combine flour sugar, butter, and oatmeal, and mix with to forks into a crumbly texture. Put the apple mixture in a baking dish and top with the crumble mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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