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What Do Lychees Taste Like? & How Do You Eat Them?

Lychees have 3 layers, they have a bumpy husk, a white and fleshy middle, and a brown seed in the center.

Of all these, only the flesh is edible, so when you are preparing the fruit to eat, you must remember that not all of it can be eaten. 

If you were to try and bite into its red husk it would taste really bitter. And the seed is not the most pleasant tasting thing, like any other seed it would be sour and ‘earthy’.

However, some cultures do eat this to help with digestion, but it can have a purgative effect.

What Do Lychees Taste Like & How Do You Eat Them

The flesh however, is the part that most of us eat, and the part we want to focus on today. This is the part of the fruit that is delicious, and sweet. For the most part. But, let’s take the time to learn more! 

What Do Lychees Taste Like? 

Before we jump into taste, let’s help you recognize what this fruit looks like. It will look a bit like a giant raspberry, although with differences. The texture of a lychee’s flesh is not dissimilar to that of a grape. 

Their flavor of the flesh can be something quite sweet, although it’s got a very subtle rose water hint to it, making it sweet but floral in its taste. 

When we taste things our taste buds pick up from smell, so the rose water scent we pick up becomes a very enjoyable flavor! 

When you buy lychees you can get them fresh, dried, or even canned. If you get them dried they can produce a very flavorful resin, much like a lychee fruit belt. It’s delicious, if you like sweet and floral things. 

Let’s profile the flavors! 

Sweetness

Lychees are very sweet, if you were to rate how sweet they are from 1 to 100, 1 being sour and 100 being super sweet, we would put them around 80. They have a perfect sheen to their flesh, and their floral smell is beautiful. 

Sourness

We would rate lychees at 40 out of 100 for them being sour. They are not sour in an unpleasant way unless they are not ripe yet. But, they can pair beautifully with a citrus fruit like an orange, lemon, or lime in a drink or dessert. 

If you smell fermenting then you should note that the lychees are spoiled, and you should not eat them. 

Saltiness

Lychees have no natural saltiness to them. But, the flavor is strong enough that it could be paired with something salty. You could even combine it with cheese to get a unique kind of flavor in your mouth. 

Bitterness

A properly harvested lychee should not be bitter at all, not even slightly. An unripe lychee will be bitter and sour. In order to ensure that the lychees are not under ripe, you should always check their husks, which should be red like raspberries. 

Florals

Lychees have the taste you get from smelling roses. We would rate this as 30 out of 100. If you have ever tried rose water before, or have rose tea, it is a bit like this.

Rose water goes well with lemonade, which backs up the citrus and lychee pairing! 

Where Can I Find Lychees? 

Lychees come from the lychee tree which is an evergreen tree found in Asia, notably India and China. 

They require an agricultural zone of 10 or 11 to be able to grow, with the added no frost risk. If you happen to live in a climate with this kind of landscape, you might actually be able to grow your own lychees! 

However, for most of us, this is not the case. But there are a plethora of lychee types which have been crafted to be ideal for cultivation, although you need to stay away from standing waters. 

Lychee trees will only bear fruit after a few years of growth, so they need a sheltered location.

Strong winds are also recommended to be avoided, as the trees grow in an umbrella pattern, thus they can be damaged by strong winds, or even uprooted or snapped.

Many of us cannot grow lychees in our environments, so it is best to buy them from a store. However, if you do live in an ideal lychee environment but do not want to grow a tree, you could look into going to lychee farms! 

Lychees Are Fruits

Lychees are indeed fruits, but much like other fruits such as pineapples, oranges, and many other fruits, the skin is not edible and nor are the seeds, or at least it is not recommended. 

In order to harvest these fruits they need to be properly ripened.

You should not pick them when they are green as they don’t ripen, they need to be red to show they are properly ripped, and only then can you cut them from the tree, which must be done manually. 

Once you have harvested these fruits they can be stored for up to 14 days, canned, or dried. Do not forget to cut the husk away before you eat it. 

Like any other fruit, lychees do ferment eventually. 

Do They Have Health Benefits?

If you decide to purchase lychees in a can, you should seek out a producer who does not include a vast amount of sugar when they can fruit. They already have an intense flavor, and thus they will often have a heavy syrup to balance this. 

Their calories come from sugars, and this is why you do not want added sugars on top, as this just increases the calories further. 

One benefit you can get from lychees is how high they are in potassium and vitamin C. What is even better is if you were to get a single cup of canned lychees with no added sugars, you would be getting 10% of the daily fiber that you need! 

Do note to avoid lychees which have not ripened yet, as well as the seeds of the lychee. These will taste bitter and sour, however, their purgative effects are also highly unwanted as well. 

Dried lychees refers to the dried flesh of the fruit. These can be just as beneficial, but much like anything dried they do lose some of their benefits in the drying process.

However, if you eat fresh lychees, then you will get as much vitamin C from ten lychees as one orange. 

With high fibers and high potassium and vitamin C they are wonderful, just stay away from added sugars! 

What Do Lychees Taste Like & How Do You Eat Them (1)

How To Eat Lychees

So, how do you eat these fruits? Well, finding them can be difficult to start, so they are most often found canned. If canned you do not need to worry about peeling the lychee, only spitting out the seed. 

So it can be just like eating a small plum or peach in that way. 

Do remember that because of how they look, canned lychees can look a lot like canned grapes in a fruit cocktail, however, they are vastly different, especially in taste but also because they are an entirely different fruit altogether. 

Canned lychees can be popular in fruit salads, and make for amazing ice cream, sorbets, desserts, and in some case’s tea! Lychee bubble tea is one of the most delicious things on the planet. You could even try them in a smoothie too! 

Let’s not forget how bartenders have been crafting lychee martinis as well, making quite the popular drink.

Although it can go great in many beverages as it also pairs well with coconuts and lime. 

If you get some fresh lychees, consider cheese. Hawaii has some amazing recipes that include fresh lychees being stuffed with a mild cream cheese. Or even adding in a dab of spice with a gorgeous Gorgonzola blend.

If you want to serve a fresh lychee, ensure that you take the seed out and remove the husk. Of course, also make sure it is a ripe lychee. 

Lychee Peeling

So, how do you properly peel a lychee? Is there a method to this mad fruit? 

Well, honestly, not really. 

There are only three things you need to consider. 

  • Brush the lychee with your fingers and find a piece of the husk that you can grab and break away. It is not very tough, so this should be easy. 
  • The husk splits and comes off pretty easily, so it may come off in 1-3 pieces. 
  • Prior to eating, open up the fruit to remove the seed. 

Also note that there is a brown papery seal inside of the fruit around the seed, do not remove this, you only want the seed to be removed. 

You do not need any equipment or anything but your fingers to peel and eat a lychee. 

However, you can pair it with dairy products or alcoholic beverages (although, we wouldn’t recommend it with beer)! So, you could consider preparing it as part of a dish, but this is up to you. 

You can just eat it as is, which is a great way to fully enjoy a lychee, you could dry it, blend it into a drink, add it into a fruity dessert recipe or more. It is your choice entirely!

Dried lychees will resemble raisins, although their flavor is stronger than raisins are. 

Are There Any Fruits Similar To Lychees?

So, we have to wonder, are there any fruits similar to lychees? 

Well, there are some, but none will taste or have the ‘mouth feel’ a lychee does. 

You can get mangosteen rambutan and longans. 

Each of these will be individual, much like strawberries, raspberries and cranberries are all red berries, they are all unique, with their own tastes and textures. 

Lychees do have something in common with its cousins longan and rambutan, in that when they are mixed with alcohol, their flavors usually disappear. 

These fruits can only really be told apart by their shells as they do look very similar. Rambutans, Longans and Lychees all have a similar growing habit as well, but the fruits are very different. 

Rambutans are most similar to lychees as they both have outer husks which are not edible as well as a brown seed on the inside which is also inedible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Lychee Taste Good? 

Lychees do taste wonderful, but it depends on your own tastes. Some people would even say that lychees are similar to pears or watermelons. Which is not far off, but they also have that subtle rosy aroma.

What Is The Best Way To Eat Lychee?

Lychees are best when eaten fresh and on their own. Just peel away the husk, nibble or suck away the flesh from the seed (we recommend nibbling). However, if you want to add it to a dish, a salad is a solid choice!

What Do Lychees Taste Like & How Do You Eat Them

How To Eat Lychees

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Lychees have such a beautifully fresh taste. You just need to remove the shell and seed, and you are ready to mix lychees into your fruit salad, sorbet or even martini.

Materials

  • Fresh lychees (or canned)

Tools

  • Knife

Instructions

  1. Buy lychees: You may not find fresh lychees in every store, so if you want to use them in a fruit salad, then you can also get canned lychees.
  2. Crack fresh lychees: Fresh lychees have a hard, prickly shell around the soft, inner flesh. You can just crack the shell open, or use a knife to cut it open.
  3. Remove the seed: Lychee has a single seed, so make sure that you remove this before adding it to your recipe.
  4. Add lychees to your recipe: Depending on your recipe, you can add lychees to almost anything sweet, including a fruit salad, sorbet and ice cream.
Jess Smith

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