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19 July 2005

Pop! Goes the Litchi

(editor's note -- written by the WineGoddess)

LycheeIn my desire to consume as much chilled white wine as possible in this nasty and oppressive New York City heat, I rediscovered my love for zesty and refreshing gewürztraminer (more on this wine gem in a future article). Quite often I sat there with sweat running down my forehead, reading the back labels of the flute-shaped bottles: “Intriguingly aromatic with bold hints of exotic spice and litchi nuts…” And then it dawned on me. What the hell is a litchi nut anyway?!

I had a strong urge to find out.

If you’re anything like me (a product of small-town America), you’ve never tried a litchi nut, let alone seen one. So I made a trip to the local Stop & Shop to get the scoop. I was in luck, because apparently early July is prime litchi nut season. Herb the Produce Man (sanity check: can a man named Herb really work in produce?) was kind of enough to point me in the direction of the litchis, piled high in a small box low to the ground and out of sight – clearly not a popular item. Brownish red with spiny looking skins, these golf ball sized things seemed to stare back at me, desperate for attention. I grabbed a few, threw them in a plastic bag, and made my way home.

Like an idiot, I forgot to ask Herb how to eat them.

LycheepeeledI tried to peel the litchis, but that got me nowhere; the skin was tough and unyielding. Then came the paring knife, which met with somewhat greater success than my fingernail. With a slit around the circumference, I popped off the casing and found myself with a translucent white ball, vaguely resembling an eyeball. Kind of creepy. Slicing down the center like a skilled surgeon, I discovered a smooth brown almond-shaped seed living in the middle. Scooping the white flesh away from this seed, I was finally left with the prize: juicy, sweet, exotic fruit worthy of the time spent procuring it from its covering. And aaaahhhhhh, it smelled like gewürztraminer! The luscious litchi. So that’s what they were talking about!!

You need to experience it for yourself. Words really can’t describe the marvelous sensation.

Now the 411: Did you know the litchi nut is actually a fruit and not a nut? It hails from Southeast Asia and is often grown in the subtropical climates of California, Florida and Hawaii. Spelled many different ways, including lychee, lichee and litchee, you can rest assured it’s not a careless typo on the back label of a wine bottle when you see it in its many forms. My Stop & Shop sold litchi nuts for $3.99/lb, which depending on their size, gives you about a dozen to play with.

My advice to you: Hurry up and check them out before they go out of season. And be sure to have a glass of gewürztraminer by your side for the full sensory effect!


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Rahul Deep

I belong to the place in India named Muzaffarpur. This place produces the tastiest litchi in the world. the reason behind it is sybiotic micro-organism called micorhiza, found in the soil of Muzaffarpur. The total production in this area is about 56000 tons in a season.

Gavin Hardy

So Miss Winegoddess, I farm Litchis in South Africa and we export to Europe mainly.
You eat a litchi like this:
Bite off the skin at the stalk end of the litchi, say about 15% of surface area.
Politely spit it out.
Squeeze, pop the flesh and pip into your mouth leaving the skin in your fingers.
No mess.
If you want to experience ecstacy come eat when we start picking at 05h30 in the morning when the litchis are cold on the trees, to die for !!!!!!!
Now help me?? Please
We are trying to export into the USA but are battling with phyto-san issues, which appear to be ???? as you import from many other countries with similar issues.
We are GLOBALGAP and TESCO approved.
We harvest from oct to feb. What a treat for Christmas !!!!!!
We can price at say $2-$3/lb FOB RSA for the finest quality.THIS IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FOR SOMEONE IN THE USA.
Some of us farmers are paticularly early and airfreight almost our entire crop to Europe, pre christmas.


They are really tasty, I went to china like 4 years ago, and on that trip I knew about the litchi nut, I was for months trying to see where in here I can get them.

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They are really tasty, I went to china like 4 years ago, and on that trip I knew about the litchi nut, I was for months trying to see where in here I can get them.

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