It’s impossible to describe the exact taste of lychee fruit, which is why you owe it to yourself to bite into one directly! Lychees are a delicious fruit treat that needs to be tasted to be understood.
Lychees are best eaten fresh, and immediately after they are removed from their skins. However, since they are grown in tropical climates and are mostly imported, it might be easier to find them canned in syrup.
Either way, when you try one yourself, you’ll realize how distinct and different the flavor of a lychee is from other fruit, and how little comparisons do to explain the depth of fruit flavor in lychees.
What Is Lychee Fruit?
Lychee is a pitted fruit that grows on trees, like cherries. Lychees are protected by skin that can be broken and peeled back to reveal the delicate white flesh inside. The Lychee without its skin looks a little bit like a peeled grape.
Known scientifically as Litchi chinensis, the Lychee tree is a member of the soapberry family. It is native to Southern China but grows across tropical Asia, and has spread to other parts of the world.
It grows only in a humid, tropical climate. A lychee tree can grow up to 100 feet tall and can produce up to 20 clusters of dense lychee fruit.
Lychees grow year-round and are harvested all the time.
In countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, Lychees are used for everything from desserts and cocktails to ice cream, sorbets, and cakes.
The sweet and fruity lychee flavor is as well-known and popular as cherry or grape is here.
What Are The Initial Flavors Of Lychee Fruit?
Although it is impossible to describe exactly how lychee fruit tastes, it is a sweet, citrus, and floral flavor that is best compared to a strawberry or a watermelon flavor.
The initial flavors are brighter and more acidic, and the aftertaste is mellower and more like a melon.
If you want to know what lychee fruit tastes like for yourself, you’ll have to pick some up – fresh or canned.
What Texture Does Lychee Fruit Have?
Lychee fruit is a little bit chewy and gummy compared to other soft fruits like grapes or pears. There is a rubbery texture that is not difficult to chew but doesn’t immediately dissolve like watermelon.
Biting into lychee releases the juices and along with them, the brightest flavors. The flesh of lychees takes a little longer to chew and reveals the full depth of the flavor.
The chewy texture of lychees as well as their color, shape, and size remind some people of eyeballs. It’s not an appetizing comparison, but it can help you to imagine the texture of this rubbery, squishy, pulpy fruit.
Where Does Lychee Fruit Come From?
Lychee fruit originated in Southern China, and possibly Northern Vietnam.
From this relatively isolated geographic location, lychee trees have moved across the world, becoming popular across tropical Asia and later finding demand around the world.
Right now, the largest lychee-producing countries are:
- South Africa
Is Lychee Fruit Healthy?
Yes, lychee fruit is a healthy fruit that is high in vitamins and antioxidants.
Lychee contains a lot of vitamin C, as well as important fiber. Like most fruits, it makes a good addition to your diet.
In addition to the benefits you might already know about, studies have shown that lychees are particularly high in proanthocyanidins – which are great to have.
These compounds are anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and are protective against heart disease.
Adding some lychee to your diet is a safe bet that will also improve your health!
Lychee Fruit Nutritional Information
Per 100g Serving, According To Medical News Today
Are Lychees Dangerous?
Lychees, when ripened and eaten properly, are safe.
However, there are some dangers to be aware of. You don’t want to make the mistake of eating lychee the wrong way, because the results could be fatal.
Lychee in its final, edible form is safe, but unripened lychee contains toxins that can be dangerous in high quantities. If the flesh of your lychees has not fully whitened, they might be underripe.
Although a single underripe lychee is unlikely to cause a problem, eating a basket full of these could send you to the hospital.
A toxin called MCPG is present in unripe lychees. When ingested in large quantities, it causes your blood sugar to fall dramatically. In the worst situations, it is fatal.
Like some other fruits (grapefruit comes to mind), lychee can interact with some medications, reducing their effectiveness or causing undesirable side effects.
Lychees can affect anticoagulants and NSAIDs like Aspirin, as well as some cancer drugs, anti-viral drugs, and pain relievers.
If you are taking any of these medications, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor before eating lychees.
Lastly, lychee pits should never be eaten. They also contain toxins that can be harmful.
If you are cooking with lychees or blending them, always remember to remove the pits first.
How Do You Eat Lychee Fruit?
Lychee fruit typically comes in clusters, with each small lychee protected by skin.
The key to enjoying fresh lychee fruit is to remove the skin and the pit so you can enjoy the sweet, citrusy flesh of the fruit.
You can start by peeling back the skin of the fruit around the stem. Peel until you can remove the lychee fruit, and discard the skin.
Press into the flesh to reveal the dark pit. Remove it and throw it away, too.
Pop the lychee fruit into your mouth and enjoy it!
There are plenty of other ways to enjoy lychee fruit too. You can blend lychees into ice cream or sorbets, you can add them as garnishes or flavoring to cocktails, and you can even add them to savory salsas.
What Is The Difference Between Lychee And Rambutan?
The rambutan is a close relative of the lychee.
Some people use “lychee” and “rambutan” to refer to the same fruit, but they are different.
Lychees are a little more citrus and acidic than rambutan. They have a brighter burst of flavor. Rambutan fruit is often compared to strawberry or melon.
The easy way to tell these two apart at the grocery store is their exterior appearance.
Lychee skins are flat, while rambutans feature many long exterior “hairs”.
Lychees and rambutan can be used in many of the same recipes and have a similar flavor. They are interchangeable in a lot of ways, but they are essentially different and it is good to recognize that.
How Can I Pick Lychee Fruit In A Grocery Store?
When you are selecting lychee fruit at the grocery store, look for clusters that have vibrant red skin and are about 1 inch in diameter.
You should be able to press lightly against the skin and feel it give a little bit, but if there is little resistance the lychee might be overripe. When you smell the fruit you should be able to detect a floral note.
Lychees are mostly imported to Europe and North America, so if you are unable to find fresh stuff, you can probably use canned lychees for your recipe.
They retain the same great flavor and are easier to find in Asian grocery stores.
Can You Grow Lychee Fruit?
If you are very determined, you can grow Lychee fruit, like you can grow any other plant.
However, it is probably not worth your while.
For one, lychee fruit only grows in hot and humid tropical climates – like Southern China, Australia, or Madagascar. Unless you live in a rainforest climate with lots of sun and heat, your lychee tree will probably not thrive.
It could also take some time. Lychee trees grow up to 100 feet tall and take many years to reach full maturity.
If you love lychees and want an unlimited supply of fresh stuff, you’re probably out of luck unless you live on a tropical fruit farm. It is probably easier to buy fresh or canned lychees than it is to plant a lychee tree of your own and raise it to maturity.
How Do You Cook Lychee Fruit?
Lychee fruit is most often eaten raw, but many different recipes include Lychee.
Lychee is very sweet and watery, like other fruits. It makes excellent jams or jellies and can be added to cakes or desserts. It can be blended and frozen into popsicles or ice cream or added to cocktails.
How you want to cook lychee will depend on the recipe you want to follow:
Exotic Tropical Fruit – Lychee Recipes
|Raspberry Lychee Mojitos||146||5 Mins|
|Lychee And Ginger Sorbet||181||25 Mins|
|Passionfruit And Lychee Cheesecake||251||30 Mins|
This refreshing mojito recipe takes about 5 minutes to make and will take you straight to lychee heaven.
The sweetness of lychee fruit, as well as the depth of its flavors, comes through in this cocktail. The raspberries are a tart counterpoint to the lychees, and the spearmint and lime give it that signature mojito coolness.
Although you can use pineapple juice as a base, I recommend adding lychee juice (or syrup, if you have it left over from using canned lychees) as this increases the lychee flavor in the drink.
If you don’t drink alcohol, it’s easy to omit the rum and enjoy it as a non-alcoholic mocktail.
Total Preparation Time: 5 Mins
In Asia, one of the most popular uses for lychee is in cool, frozen desserts. You can find all kinds of popsicles and treats with lychee flavoring.
There is something about the bright fruit flavor that makes a great sweet treat to cut the heat.
This sorbet, flavored with both lychee and ginger, is a complex treat that is delicious and unfamiliar to western palettes.
Most of us are used to enjoying ginger as a savory ingredient rather than a sweet one, but in this dessert, ginger gives a spicy note to the sweet and fruity flavors imparted by the lychee.
If you want to experience the way lychee mixes with other Asian flavors in a dessert, this lychee and ginger sorbet will not disappoint. It’s a perfect after-dinner treat for hot summer evenings.
Total Preparation Time: 25 Mins
A classic favorite with an original spin.
We all love cheesecake and its many variations, but I doubt you’ve had one like this. The mix of passionfruit and lychee in the richness of a cheesecake is something you don’t want to miss.
This cake is an over-the-top culinary delight that pushes boundaries and delivers a rich flavor profile.
It also looks fantastic, with the passionfruit pulp and fresh lychees as decoration.
The mix of complex but bright citrus fruit flavors with the richness and depth of cheesecake is a perfect pairing. If you’re a lychee lover, this is a high-profile wow-factor dessert that is worth trying out for your next dinner party.
Preparation Time: 30 Mins
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Lychee Fruit Similar To?
Lychees are similar to some other Asian fruits, particularly rambutan and longan.
You can differentiate these different fruits by their outer skins, or by taking a bite and recognizing the taste.
Although these fruits are similar and might be interchangeable depending on the recipe, there is a difference between them. Once you have sampled a couple of each, you’ll be able to taste the difference.
What Does Lychee Taste Good With?
Lychee is a very sweet fruit that pairs well with other, more tart fruits like raspberry or blackberry.
It also makes a great companion for spicy flavors like ginger.
However, the lychee flavor works pretty much anywhere a sweet fruit flavor is needed, from fruit cake to jam.
Is Lychee Sweet Or Sour?
Lychees are sweet.
However, like any fruit, at different stages of ripeness, they may taste different and include a bit of sourness or tartness.
The initial burst of flavor is citrus and might include a tangy note. As you chew the lychee, you’ll notice more sweetness comes through in the flavor profile.
Overall, lychees are much sweeter than they are sour.
Is Lychee Good For Diabetes?
Lychee fruit is sweet and high in fruit sugars, so it should be eaten in moderation by people who are limiting their sugar intake.
With that said, the sugars in lychee are natural and easy for your body to digest. In moderation, lychees can be a part of a healthy diabetic diet.
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