What To Look For When Buying Lychee

A small tropical fruit that's native to China and grown in various subtropical regions, including parts of the United States (via NPR), lychees are a juicy and delicious summer treat. An ideal balance of sweet and tart, lychees have a delicate, floral flavor that's been described both as a combination of grape and rose or pear and watermelon (via HuffPost). Also known as lichee, litchi, or alligator strawberries (via Eating Well), they are a good source of vitamin C, copper, potassium, and healthy antioxidants (via Healthline). 

According to the Australian Lychee Growers Association, lychees are best eaten when they're fresh, either on their own or added to fruit salads and sweet and sour dishes. Lychees are also popular when added to desserts like ice cream or tasty cocktails like lychee sake martinis, lychee vodka martinis, and mojitos (via Brit+Co). It's no wonder lychees are one of Jillian Michael's favorite fruits and Bindi Irwin's absolute favorite food.

Look for ripe lychees

It's important to only select lychees that are already ripe, as they will not ripen any further once they have been picked from the tree (via SFGate). Eating unripe lychees can be dangerous, as they contain an increased level of a toxin that has been tied to the deaths of a number of children in northern India (via Proactive Health Labs).

When buying lychees from the market (or picking them from the tree), look for ones that have "vibrantly colored skin," whether red, pink, or orange, and are more than an inch in diameter (via The Spruce Eats). Ripe lychees also give off a floral scent, and when pressed, the skin should give a little, though not too much (via Taste of Home). Avoid lychees that are "cracked, leaking juices, or are blemished with a sour taste" as they are likely too ripe, or even spoiled (via Produce Made Simple). According to Eating Well, the delicate fruits will be in peak form from May to September in the US, and you can expect them to last for around a week in the fridge.