Hello, my dear friend! I'm thrilled to share with you my wonderful world of lychees, a fruit that has been cherished for centuries, especially in China. We hold a special place in history and have been enjoyed by emperors and their families since ancient times, as early as 1700 BC.
We are a subtropical fruit, round to oval in shape, and about the size of a walnut. People often call us "the King of Fruits" because we are so loved and highly regarded. When you see a lychee, you'll notice that we look like small pink balls with a tough outer shell. But don't worry, we don't eat the shell!
Once you peel away the shell, you'll discover a glistening and juicy ball of jelly-like flesh. It's so refreshing! In the centre, you'll find a shiny brown seed. The taste is magical combination of sweetness and fragrance, with hints of grapes and roses. It's like enjoying a burst of nature's own deliciousness.
Speaking of seeds, their size is an important feature that distinguishes different varieties of lychees. Most people, prefer small-seeded lychees because they are easier to enjoy without any interruptions.
Australia has the longest lychee season in the world. We're available from October to March, and at their most plentiful and cheapest December to February.
Although not sold in the shops by varieties there around 17 different lychee varieties grown commercially in Australia. The following varieties are the most common; Kwai Mai, Tai So, Bengal, Fai Zee Siu, Souey , Salathiel, Baitaying, Erdon Lee and Wai Chee.
Most lychees usually weigh around 20 grams each, but let me tell you about the incredible Erdon Lee variety. These lychees are the true giants among their lychee family, weighing an impressive 50-60 grams each! Sometimes they even reach a whopping 100 grams!
Imagine holding a lychee that's three, four, or even five times bigger than the usual ones.
We're berries and are produced on tropical evergreen trees which grow to 10-12 metres. Our parent trees have a short trunk and low spreading branches that are quite attractive. Their shiny, green leaves are composed of several smaller long, thin leaflets which are grouped in pairs. Long sprays of green-white to green-yellow flowers turn into bunches of fruit following pollination but the trees need lots of water and a cold winter to do this.
We're harvested in bunches when ripe. Harvesting is done by hand and may require ladders, especially on the older taller trees.
Select the plumpest lychees with fresh-looking, vibrant firm skin. They should give to gentle pressure when gently pressed. Avoid any with dry shrivelled skin.
We do not ripen any further after harvesting. Ensure you keep them in an airtight container in the fridge so that they stay fresh and juicy. Use within 7 days.
Lychee growing regions in Australia include tropical Far North Queensland, Central Queensland, South East Queensland and Northern NSW.
As I mentioned before we come from China where we have grown grow for many thousands of years. It is only recently that we have grown in other tropical and sub-tropical countries like Australia. Lychees were first introduced into Australia by Chinese gold miners in the mid-1880s.
For quick eating, simply pierce our skin with your thumbnail then break it into halves, squeeze the fruit straight into your mouth and spit the seed out.
Lychees are so snackable - like a healthier lolly. They’re perfect for a sweet treat and a burst of goodness at any time of day.
Add peeled lychees to a tropical fruit salad with mango, banana and passionfruit.
Toss peeled lychees onto a greased barbecue and cook for a few minutes until warmed. Spoon over barbecued chicken.
Serve lychees layered in glasses with mango sorbet or ice-cream.
Try these super-easy lychee recipes from Sydney Markets: