Longan and lychee are some of the tropical fruits that are hard to tell apart, especially if you do not interact with them often. I admit that I could hardly tell them apart at the beginning, but over time it got easier.
Longan and lychee are closely related, and they have several similarities. However, they also have a few differences. If you have been having a hard time differentiating longan and lychee, this article is for you.
We will discuss all the differences and similarities between longan and lychee including their origin, appearance, flavor, storage, how to eat them, and so much more.
Longan reportedly originated from the region between Southern China and Myanmar. It is native to China and tropical Asia. Longan has existed since 200bc. The name longan comes from the Cantonese name for dragon eye.
Lychee is native to the southern regions of China. It has reportedly been grown there for over 2000 years. The Guangdong province in China is referred to as the ‘Kingdom of lychee’.
This is because the province produces high-quality lychee in large volumes. Most subtropical regions in the world including France, Australia, and North America started growing lychee as well.
Lychee’s appearance is very similar to that of a strawberry. It has red and bumpy skin. Underneath the skin, there is a translucent white flesh that tastes amazing.
Longen has light golden brown skin. It got the name dragon eye fruit because once the skin is removed, it exposes a black seed that resembles an eyeball. Just like lychee, it has translucent white flesh.
Longan flavor vs Lychee flavor
Lychee has a sweet and tart flavor. A lot of people compare its flavor to that of grapes while others compare it to the pear and watermelon flavor. Lychee compliments other tropical flavors thanks to the sweet, tart flavor.
Longan also has a sweet flavor thanks to its high natural sugar content. It is very juicy because it is mostly water. Longan also has tropical flavors with a hint of muskiness. Don’t be alarmed though, the musk flavor is not unpleasant.
Similarities and differences between longan and lychee
- Both of them grow on trees. Longan trees grow up to 100 feet high whereas the lychee trees are much denser.
- Both belong to the soapberry family. Although they are closely related, there are a few slight differences.
- Lychees are bigger in size compared to longans which are approximately 3 cm in diameter.
- Both longan and lychee have thin and leathery skin, but lychee is red in color while longan is golden brown in color.
- On the outside, longan fruits have a smooth texture as opposed to lychees bumpy skin and rough texture.
- When you peel both longan and lychee you’ll see translucent white flesh. In both the fruits, the flesh encloses a black seed.
- Both have a sweet and grape-like flavor.
- The pulp of lychee is thicker and less crispy compared to that of longan.
- Lychee has a very pronounced floral aroma compared to longan.
- Both longan and lychee can be eaten raw out of hand.
How to eat lychee vs how to eat longan
Eating lychee is pretty straightforward. If you buy ripe lychee, you can easily pierce the skin and use your fingernail to pull off the skin. If it proves to be a little bit difficult, use a knife to split the fruit in half before removing the skin.
You can eat lychee out of hand or add it to smoothies, juices, ice cream, green salads, fruit salads, and even mojitos. You can even use lychee to make a sauce for savory dishes including fish and meat.
To eat longan, you first have to wash them thoroughly to get rid of any dirt. Once clean, dig your fingers into the fruit. When a hole appears, use your fingers to remove the skin since it is inedible. Cut the longan in half, remove the seed, and enjoy the tasty flesh.
Alternatively, just pop it into your mouth and spit out the seed after you are done eating the flesh. The seed is inedible, so do not swallow it. You can add longan to fruit salads, juices, and smoothies.
You can even add lychee to savory dishes like Asian soups to balance out the flavor. If you feel like going the extra mile, you can use longan to make ice cream and sorbents.
Choosing the best longan and lychee fruits
When choosing lychee at the market, go for the ones that are bright red in color. The skin should give a little when you press it gently.
If it is too soft or feels mushy, chances are that it is overripe. The fruit should also have a pleasant floral aroma. In case you do not find fresh lychees, you can always buy the canned version. Your best bet would be to buy them in Asian markets.
When choosing longan, go for the ones with bright skin and without any sign of mold. Additionally, you should use your finger to feel the fruit. If there is a gap between the skin and the seed, the flesh has shrunk and the longan has probably gone bad.
How to store lychee and longan
For both longan and lychee to last longer, they should be refrigerated. Place the fruits in a plastic bag before refrigerating them. It is important to leave an opening on the plastic bag to allow for air circulation and reduce the chances of mold growth.
You can also freeze longan and lychee if you want them to last for much longer. They will stay fresh for up to one year. Just place them in a freezer-safe container before freezing.
Do not peel off the skin before freezing.
Longan and lychee may be similar in some ways, but they also have several differences. It is important to differentiate the two since they have different uses despite the fact that they have a somewhat similar flavor.
If you did not know how different these tropical fruits are, I hope this article cleared your confusion.