The Lychee has a “delicate, whitish pulp” with a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavour. Since this perfumey flavour is lost in canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh.
The outside of the lychee is covered by a pink-red, roughly textured rind that is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. Lychees are eaten in many different dessert dishes, and are especially popular in China, throughout Southeast Asia, along with South Asia and India.
Lychees are commonly sold fresh in Asian markets, and in recent years, also widely in supermarkets worldwide. The red rind turns dark brown when the fruit is refrigerated, but the taste is not affected. It is also sold canned year-round. The fruit can be dried with the rind intact, at which point the flesh shrinks and darkens. Dried lychee are often called lychee nuts, though, of course, they are not a real nut.
How to Prepare Lychee Fruit
Buy Some Ripe Lychees
When buying lychees, look for pretty pink skin (not green). To see whether or not a lychee is ripe, press the skin gently with your thumb. The lychee should give a little. If it’s too soft, it may be over-ripe.
“Open” the Skin
Using a thumbnail works best for cutting open the skin, then peeling it back.
Peel Off the Skin
Now continue peeling off the skin – it should come off fairly easily.
“Open” the Fruit to Reveal the Stone
You can eat the lychees as you peel, popping them into your mouth – just watch out for the stone, which is very smooth and hard. If you’re planning to prepare the lychees (to serve or use in a recipe), “open” the fruit using your thumb to reveal the stone.
Remove the Stone
After you’ve split open the fruit, dig out the stone and discard (Note: don’t worry if the fruit tears).