There are two choices with fresh lychees: You can like them, or you can love them.
Me? I love, love, love them.
Who was the first wise guy with the courage to pluck one, skin and eat it? It must have been done on a dare, because once you peel that sandpapery, rough, bright red rind, the inside is distinctly challenging – gelatinous and translucent white. The flesh is a bit like if you had peeled a grape, only whitish. The flavor? Unmatched!
To say it looks improbable as food is severely understating it.
But don’t let humble looks stop you! Strip a lychee down and you will be rewarded with a cool, sweet, perfumed eyeball of a fruit that hints of the tropics. A prominent seed can be removed with your fingers, or spit out (more fun!). The skin peels easily once you get it started.
If all you know of lychees is the overly sweet canned variety, forget what you think you know and re-open your mind to this exotic tree fruit.
Their season is May-September, and they retail for $3.99-$4.99 a pound. My sample, provided to me by the fruit and veggie experts at Melissa’s Produce, came from Mexico, although lychees are also grown in Taiwan, China, Brazil, Japan, elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and in California, Hawaii, Texas and Florida.
Health benefits: The lychee contains, on average, a total 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, according to the USDA. Snacking on nine lychee fruits would supply an adult’s daily recommended Vitamin C requirement, on average.
How to Eat Lychees
Serving: I’m a fan of eating them out of hand, for the freshest flavor and most fun. You’ll want to peel them as you eat them, not ahead of time.
–Serve them in a bowl of ice, with instructions on how to peel and a little bowl to the side for the pits, if you like.
–Freeze them whole, with the rind on. When you are ready to eat them, thaw, peel and you won’t know they had been frozen. Or run the frozen lychees under warm water for 15 seconds to thaw the skin, then peel, and eat them frozen!
–Or skin and pit them and use them in…
If you’re still feeling anxious about them, give a quick look at this 2-minute video that shows you how to peel and pit lychees. It’s super easy, but if you are one who likes to watch before you do it yourself, this is for you.
Go ahead, be brave and expand your fruit world, and then tell me how you like them!