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From a tropical evergreen fruit tree native to China, Vietnam and Indonesia, fresh lychees are only available in the UK from late winter until early spring so they are worth buying when the opportunity arises. It is only in recent years that we have seen fresh lychees here, having been used to the tinned variety so prevalent in the fruit salads of Chinese restaurants in the West.


The skin has a knobbly outer appearance, which is easy to peel. Remove the skin to expose the pearl-white fruit, inside the fruit is a shiny, oval seed, which should be removed, as they are mildly poisonous. When buying fresh lychees look for a pinkish/red skin, the deeper the colour the better as this indicates ripeness. If the skin is a pale brown then they are not yet ready for eating.

Lychees are a great way to finish an Asian meal; they are sweet and light, rich in vitamin C and a perfect palette cleanser after spicy food. Delicious on their own or as a component in an exotic fruit salad, they also make an excellent sorbet.

Content and picture Miles Collins