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How Do I Peel a Lychee?

By Lynelle Harmon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Lychees are a small fruit with a tough exterior skin and a sweet interior flesh that looks similar to a peeled grape. The skin must be removed from the lychee before eating it, but the method of removal varies depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Peeled and seeded lychees can be served in fruit bowls, stuffed with a sweet filling, or become a component of desserts including parfaits and ice cream, among others.

The ease of removing skin from a lychee depends upon the ripeness of the fruit. A fully-ripened lychee will have skin that is already loosened and a small notch can be made at one end of the using either a fingernail or a knife. This hole can be spread open with the fingers until the fruit within pops out. Lychees that aren’t as ripe may require a cut to be made all the way around the skin that can be tugged and spread until it comes off.

The interior seeds need to be removed from the lychee and discarded before the flesh can be consumed. The seed is easiest to access by slicing the fruit lengthwise until the pointed end of the seed emerges and can be pulled out and discarded. Depending on the planned use of the lychees, it may be necessary to cut carefully to prevent damage to the structure of the fruit.

Freshly-peeled lychees can be eaten plain or incorporated into a fruit bowl. A fruit salad containing the lychee can contain a mixture of fruits with a balance of flavors. The fruit pairs well with blueberries, raspberries, and pineapple. It is best to not include watermelon, grapes, or strawberries, as the lychees themselves already reflect these flavors and may overpower the other fruit in the dish.

Stuffed lychee can be served as a bite-sized snack. The interior can be filled with savory creamy ingredients, such as mayonnaise or cream cheese. or a blend of the two. Sweet interior ingredients could include ground nuts, whipped cream, or pudding.

Lychees can be used in a wide range of desserts wherever the use of fruit would be appropriate. Ice cream and sorbets can be made with these fruits, where they pair well with flavors of coconut or lime. The lychee can also be diced and submerged in lime gelatin before it sets so that it will be suspended in the final dessert. Cakes, quick breads, and cobblers are all possible when baking with lychee.

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