Buying fresh lychees is a great way to start off your summer. In this article, you’ll find all the tips to help you purchase this fruit.
This luscious fruit hails from China but is now grown in warm, temperate regions like Florida, California, and Hawaii. The Lychee is prized for its sweet flavor and can be found in everything from smoothies to salads.
Lychees are juicy, succulent, and tasty fruits. Also known as litchi, these flavorful fruits are a standard favorite in Southeast Asian countries. Yet, are only recently becoming well-known in the United States.
Called the lychee nut by some, the lychee can be described as a small, fleshy fruit. When you first encounter lychee, you’ll find it has a red outer layer, a tasty white interior, and a large brown, inedible seed.
Where Can You Buy Fresh Lychees?
Where are fresh lychees located in the grocery store? That depends on the type of grocery store you frequent. As stated, the lychee is only now becoming a favored fruit here in the state, so it may be a rare find in some areas.
Fortunately, states like California, Hawaii, and Florida are seeing an upsurge in lychee farms. This means that the chance of buying fresh lychees at your local grocery is on the rise.
However, until then the best way to find fresh lychees depends on having access to an international market or Asian market. If so, you should have no trouble finding them in the produce section of your store.
Do you still have trouble buying fresh lychees in your area? Try contacting the FLGA, or Florida Lychee Growers Association for farms that sell and ship fresh lychees online. You may also inquire if there are any lychee growers that ship to stores in your area.
If you reside in a state like Florida where they grow them, you may be able to pick them yourself. Other than that there are online produce markets that will sell you either fresh or canned lychees when needed.
Lychees come in several varieties: The Bengal Lychee, Brewster Lychee, Sweet Cliff Lychee, Emperor Lychee, and Sweetheart Lychee, to name a few.
If you decide to buy fresh lychees online, know that some growers concentrate only on certain varieties.
What to Look for When You Are Buying Fresh Lychees?
When making your selection of lychee fruit, it’s important to examine the color of their skin. Each lychee you choose should have a uniform, bright red skin with blemishes. Size-wise, each fruit should be between one and two inches around.
As you lift the lychee up for a sniff, you’ll notice that the lychee has a soft, pleasant if somewhat flowery aroma. If the aroma isn’t pleasant but smells a little “off” don’t buy that particular fruit. Finally, feel the firmness of the fruit. A ripe lychee will be soft yet firm. However, overly ripe lychee will be soft to the point of being mushy or squishy to the touch.
When Is The Best Time To Buy Fresh Lychees?
Like all fruits, lychees have their time in the sun, so to speak. In other words, the best time to purchase a fresh bag of lychees is between late spring through summer. Also, remember that the fruit stops the ripening process after being picked, so be sure to consume them soon after purchase. According to research, the quality of the lychee is directly related to the time of harvest.
An important point to consider is that lychees do not continue to ripen once picked like bananas or other produce does. This means if they’re picked too early and sent to the store to sell, they will need to be avoided. This is because unripe lychees have a bad, bitter, and untoward taste and smell.
As stated, the perfect lychee will have red skin, be somewhat soft but not squishy, and have a lovely floral aroma.
How Much Do Fresh Lychees Cost?
When it’s time to buy fresh lychees, you may be a bit shocked at the price per pound, which can go as high as $7.00 per pound.
Just a warning here when you purchase them online. Some growers may charge as much as $40.00 a pound for fresh lychees to be shipped to you, as you can see here. So take care to double-check the price before you click to make that purchase.
How Many Lychees Should You Buy?
If this is your first time buying fresh lychees at the store, you may be confused as to how many lychees you should buy the first time out. In general, most grocers sell them in bundles weighing in at 1/2 pound for $3.00. However, that still doesn’t help you.
A good way to gauge how many lychees to buy is to get an idea of what you’ll do with them once home. As such, become familiar with their uses before you leave for the store, as recipes will tell you how many lychees you’ll need.
For instance, for a tropical smoothie with bananas, pineapple, and mango, you may just need three.
Remember, you can do a lot with fresh lychees, from everything from baked goods, frozen desserts, and even a form of homemade lychee liqueur! Buying fresh lychees for the first time is made much easier by knowing exactly how many you’ll need when you get to the store.
What do Lychees Taste Like?
When you’re at the grocer’s buying fresh lychees for the first time, you may take one look at this odd little fruit with the textured skin and decide to pass on it, as it doesn’t appear to be too appealing. However, don’t balk just yet give this little fruit a try, and you may find that you actually like it!
To help you out, we’ll describe what it tastes like for you. Fanciers of this fruit all seem to have their own opinion. However, suffice it to say that if you enjoy the flavor of fresh strawberries, citrus, or watermelon, then there’s no doubt you’ll find yourself a quick fan of this tropical fruit.
How to Store Fresh Lychees
Once you get your fruit home either keep them in the plastic bag you used to purchase them or place them in a plastic container. If you want your lychees to be around a bit don’t place them in an airtight environment else they’ll get moldy. Make sure that air is circulating freely around the fruit.
If you prefer to store your lychees on the table in a bowl, do so knowing that lychees sitting out like that will rot faster than those which are refrigerated.
Health Benefits of Lychees
Buying fresh lychees is not only a new adventure for the taste buds but also offers you many health benefits. At only around 70 calories a piece, the lychee fruit is loaded with vitamin C, copper, and potassium.
They are also laden with crucial plant compounds known as antioxidants. Chief antioxidants include epicatechin and rutin. Research suggests that epicatechin may assist in cardiac health and cancer prevention. Rutin may work to shield us from chronic diseases.
Buying fresh lychees at the store for the first time can be slightly daunting. After all, their “alligator” skin looks a bit odd at first. But once you get your hands on one of these flavorful tropical fruits, you’ll be hooked.
Their tender, white flesh will offer you a fresh, clean, and crisp taste reminiscent of a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day. With more and more lychee farms sprouting up in the states this unique, healthy, and tasty fruit is becoming more available each day.