My first taste of the lychee (also spelled “litchi”) fruit came from a can.
I can still remember biting into soft, milky white flesh, a sweet floral taste bursting in my mouth. It was definitely love at first bite and it’s stuck with me.
When I was growing up, canned lychees were all that was available. Over the decades, the fresh fruit became increasingly easier to find. Lychees grow wild in China, Vietnam and Cambodia but are now cultivated in China, India, many parts of tropical Southeast Asia, and even California and Florida.
Ironically, I was a little disappointed when I came across the fresh fruit later in life. I was unsure of the pinkish-red skin, scaly and prickly in parts, and what’s that hard coffee-brown seed doing in the middle? Plus, after working hard to peel the skin off, not every fruit was sweet, unlike the ones from the can.
As much as I prefer fresh fruit and vegetables, I almost always choose canned lychees – there’s no fuss, no seeds, and they’re always ready to eat.
And there are oh-so-many ways you can eat canned lychees. You can stuff them, eat them with almond jelly and make a mean lychee martini. I’ve also had an absolutely delicious duck and lychee red curry at a Seattle Thai restaurant. My mom used to crack open a can of lychees and serve them to us in a bowl with ice – instant dessert!
Yes, lychees are very versatile.
This summer has been pretty brutal so far. If it hasn’t been storming, it’s been in the 90s, or both! As I languished in the heat and humidity, I decided to comfort myself by incorporating one of my favorite fruits into everyone’s must-have summertime treat – popsicles.
Easy Peasy Creamy Lychee Popsicles
1 cup whipped topping (like Cool Whip) or heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup lychee syrup (from the can)
10 lychees, drained (1/2-3/4 cup)
1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse for 5 to 10 seconds until well mixed but the lychee bits are still chunky.
2. Pour the mixture into 6 x 1/4 cup popsicle molds, leaving about 1/2-inch at the top. Freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Related post on Pickles and Tea: Portuguese Egg Tarts (Pastéis de Nata)