Lychee Recipes

Litchi chinensis

Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit

Lychees glow against dark green leaves.

The lychee (Litchi chinensis) is native to Southern China, where it has been prized for centuries. Although introduced to Florida before 1880, it is now gaining popularity here. The tree has a handsome, dense canopy of bright green, shiny leaves. Under ideal conditions, trees may reach 40 feet high, but with pruning, they can be maintained at 15 feet. Pruning is used to establish a strong, permanent structure which allows for easy harvest. Lychees need full sun. Young trees must be protected from heat, frost and high winds. They are susceptible to cold.

The spectacular pink to strawberry-red fruit contrasts attractively with the foliage. Fruit matures in the spring, about two months after flowering. It must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree. The average yield per tree ranges from 20 to 175 pounds. The aromatic, oval fruit is about an inch in diameter. The thin, rough shell, the pericarp, is flexible and easily peeled when fresh. The edible portion or aril is white, translucent, firm and juicy, somewhat like a peeled grape. Inside is a large, shiny brown seed.

Lychees are most often enjoyed fresh. The flavor is sweet, fragrant and delicious. Peeled and pitted, they are popular in fruit cups and fruit salads. They add an interesting contrast to savory sauces when added just in time to heat thoroughly. They are low in calories, high in vitamin C and a good source of potassium.

Canned lychees can be substituted for fresh. Dried lychee, sometimes called lychee nuts (although they are the flesh, not the seed) are chewy and smokey, and cannot be used in place of fresh or canned lychees. Lychees can be kept for severol weeks under refrigeration, and will retain their flavor, although not their texture, if frozen unpeeled.


Lychee Cocktail (Serves 4)

Divide carambola evenly between four large stemmed glasses. In a blender or food processor, puree lychees with sugar, gin, ice and lime juice until smooth. Pour a few drops of grenadine into puree; stir once to give marbled effect. Carefully pour lychee mixture over orange carambola.

Lychee Pudding

Line a deep mold or glass dish with ladyfingers or sponge cake to form a shell about an inch thick. Fold lychees into stiffly whipped cream. Fill mold with mixture and chill.

Stuffed Lychees

(Makes about 4 dozen)

Drain lychees. In a small bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with sherry and salt until mixture is smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stuff lychees and serve.

DHTML JavaScript Menu By

11935 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156-4299 USA

Phone: 305-667-1651   •   Fax 305-665-8032