Lychee, scientifically known as Litchi chinensis, is a small tropical fruit native to China. Known for its sweet and floral flavor, it is a delightful treat that can be enjoyed in various ways.
Whether you eat lychee fresh, incorporate it into a fruit salad, or use it to add a unique twist to your cocktails, the lychee never disappoints. But how do you peel and eat this exotic fruit? Let's find out!
Describing Lychee Fruit
Lychee, sometimes spelled litchi or called alligator strawberry, is a small fruit about an inch in diameter. It's native to China but can be found in many Asian markets worldwide.
The fruit is covered in a bumpy, red skin that encases the soft flesh. At the center of the fruit is a large, brown seed.
The lychee membrane, also known as the aril, is the thin, translucent layer that encases the lychee fruits. It's what separates the outer bumpy skin from the edible part of the fruit.
How To Peel Lychee
Peeling lychee fruit is a simple process. Here's a step-by-step guide:
- Wash the fruit: Always start by washing the lychee under running water. This helps to remove any dirt or residue on the skin.
- Make an incision: Make a small cut along one side of the lychee using a knife. Be careful not to cut too deep; you don't want to damage the fruit inside.
- Peel away the skin: Once you've made the incision, use your fingers to peel lychee away from the skin. It should come off easily, revealing the white flesh underneath.
- Remove the seed: After peeling, you'll see the brown seed in the middle of the fruit. Use your fingers to remove it before eating.
Remember, lychees don't ripen after they're picked from the tree, so it's best to eat them as soon as possible after purchasing.
How To Eat Lychee
Once you've peeled your fresh lychees, you're ready to enjoy its sweet, floral flavor. Here are a few ways to eat a lychee:
- Eat it raw: The simplest way to enjoy lychee is to eat it raw. Its juicy, sweet flesh makes it a refreshing snack on a hot day.
- Add it to a salad: Lychee adds a unique flavor. Combine it with other tropical fruits like mango and passion fruit for a delicious treat.
- Use it in cocktails: Lychee can be used to make a variety of cocktails, including a lychee martini. Its sweet flavor pairs well with various spirits.
- Cook with it: Lychee can also be used in savory dishes. It's a popular ingredient in some Asian cuisines and can be used in homemade barbecue sauce recipes.
- Blend it into a smoothie: For a refreshing drink, blend lychee with other fruits and some yogurt or milk to make a smoothie.
Remember to always remove the seed before eating the fruit. The seed is not edible and can be a choking hazard.
Signs of Spoiled or Fermenting Lychees
Brown Husk: If the outer skin or husk of the lychee turns brown, it's a sign that the fruit is overripe or beginning to spoil.
Cracked or Secreting Liquid: Lychees that are cracked and secreting liquid are likely undergoing fermentation. This process can lead to an off or unpleasant smell, indicating that the fruit is no longer fresh.
Transparent or Discolored Flesh: The exposed white flesh is the edible part of the fruit. If you notice that it's transparent, has spotty patches, or any yellow-brown coloring, the lychee is starting to ferment and should not be eaten.
Unpleasant Smell: A strong, off-putting, or unusual smell is a clear indication that the lychee has spoiled. This odor is a result of the sugars in the fruit converting into alcohol and other compounds, a key aspect of the fermenting process.
How Can I Tell if a Lychee is Ripe?
A ripe lychee has a bright red exterior. It feels snug but not too hard when gently squeezed. But the most reliable indicator of ripe lychee is the scent. If it has a strong floral fragrance, it is usually ripe and ready to eat.
What Does a Lychee Taste Like?
The flavor of lychee is often described as sweet and tart, similar to a grape, strawberry, or watermelon. Some people also find that it has floral or rose-like undertones.
Is There Any Way to Use Lychee Seeds?
Lychee seeds are hard and not edible. However, they can be planted to try and grow your lychee tree.
Remember that growing a fruit-bearing tree from seed can take a significant amount of time.
Can I Make Lychee Sorbet?
Certainly! Lychees have a sweet, unique flavor that works well in a sorbet.
You can blend the fresh lychee fruit (after removing the seed and peel) with some sugar, water, and lemon juice, then freeze the mixture to make your lychee sorbet.
Can I Eat Canned Lychees?
Yes, canned lychees are a perfectly acceptable alternative to fresh lychees, especially when the fruit is out of season. Just note that they tend to be slightly sweeter due to the sugar added in the canning process.
Do I Need to Wash Lychees Before Eating?
Like any fresh fruit, it's a good idea to wash lychees before eating. This removes any potential contaminants on the lychee's surface.