The lychee – sometimes spelled lychi or litchi – is a favorite tropical fruit native to China. Trees are heavy with them now. The trees are tall, and the crop comes in over only a couple of weeks.
Native to southern China, they’re harvested on Florida fruit farms May through July. Typical size is 1 to 1-3/4 inches in diameter. This fruit is picked ready to eat. The thick red covering peels off by hand; the translucent pulp surrounds a large seed. It’s juicy and has a sweet flavor, faintly banana-like. Best eaten fresh, or may be refrigerated up to 7 days or frozen whole for later use. It’s a good source of vitamin C.
Those diners from the 60s will remember a “Chinese lychee nut” dessert at Chinese restaurants from that era; the fruit was exotic and rare in those days. Florida grows most of the small crop harvested in the U.S.
Rarely sold in stores, you can find these and other tropical fruits at Robert Is Here – a tropical fruit stand in Florida City that is featured in the Spring edition of Florida Food & Farm. They may even have lychee milkshakes this month – check them out, along with farms that specialize in tropical fruits. They’re in our directory of farms.